State of the Dead

  • Everyone eventually dies. But the gospel says that everyone will be resurrected — brought back to life. When will this happen? The resurrection will occur when Christ returns (John 6:40; 1 Corinthians 15:21-23, 52; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17). We will be given new and dramatically different bodies—imperishable, glorious, powerful, spiritual, and immortal (1 Corinthians 15:35-51). Therefore, we look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.
  • Now, what happens between a believers’ death and the resurrection, is the person conscious, or not? Most Christians believe that the believer is conscious, in heaven. However, some say that the soul is unconscious until the body is resurrected. This is known as the doctrine of psychopannychism or “soul sleep”. Some verses suggest one view, and some verses suggest the other view. Let us examine some of these verses used by both views.

Let us examine the verses put forward by those who believe in soul sleep to show that the dead must be unconscious.

1. The dead know nothing.

Ecclesiastes 9:2,5,6,10, “It is the same for all. There is one fate for the righteous and for the wicked…The living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten. Indeed, their love, their hate and their zeal have already perished, and they will no longer have a share in all that is done under the sun. In the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” 

Examination: The dead cannot think; they are unconscious as per the above verses! It appears that this text is describing afterlife, however, verse 5 says that the dead “have no further reward“. Now is that true about those who die? Of course not. In fact, dead do have future rewards; they wait for the resurrection rewards. Similarly, verse 6 says that the dead will never again have a part in anything “under the sun“. The perspective shared in Ecclesiastes is limited to this life, and we cannot use these verses as accurate descriptions of the afterlife. Ecclesiastes 9:2-3 also say, “There is one fate for the righteous and for the wicked.” This is also not true. Righteous will live with Christ. If we allow verses from Ecclesiastes as evidence about the afterlife, then they would show that there is not any afterlife, or future reward at all. Therefore, we can begin by noting that Ecclesiastes is poetry, and poetry often uses figures of speech and exaggeration and much of Ecclesiastes is written from an earthly perspective, pertaining to things that happen “under the sun”, not what happens “before the Son”.

2. Humans are dead as animals are.

Ecclesiastes 3:19-21, “The fate of human beings is like that of the animalsthe same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?” 

Examination: This verse suggests that humans are just as dead as animals are — unconscious — and divine intervention would therefore be necessary if anyone is to be conscious again. But wait. Ecclesiastes 3:19 says that humans have the same fate as animals, and their life is no better than animals. No! Humans do not have the same fate as animals. Here again, we cannot pull verses out of context and take some of the verses as the final word on after life and ignore others. That is not a good way to build a doctrine. Therefore, this is yet again poetry, and not a definite word about after death.  

3) No one praises God from the grave

Psalm 6:5 “No one remembers you when he is dead. Who praises you from the grave?

Examination: Here, it seems that David did not think that he would go immediately to heaven to enjoy and worship God. He would worship after he is resurrected (Psalm 16:9-10), but until then he would be in the grave, unconscious. But wait a minute. See Psalm 88:5: “The dead, whom you [God] remember no more”. Is God unaware of the dead? Of course not. If we take this out of context, it means that God is unaware of the dead, which is not correct. When Psalm 6:5 says that dead people do not remember God, we need not take it any more literally than Psalm 88:5, which says that God does not remember them. The perspective is from this physical life. Psalms like Ecclesiastes use poetry, and poetry often uses figures of speech and exaggeration.

Similarly, Psalm 30:3 says, “O Lord, you brought me up from the grave.” Was the writer of the Psalm who is writing while living actually in the grave? Probably not.

Psalm 49:12: “Man is like the beasts that perish.” Like Ecclesiastes, this comment has a restricted perspective, showing that poetry is not a good source of doctrine about the afterlife.

Psalm 86:13: “You have delivered me from the depths of the grave.” Was he really in the grave? No.

Psalms 86:16: “Your terrors have destroyed me.” Was he actually destroyed by God? No. The poetry is impressionistic, not literal.

Psalm 115:18: “We extol the Lord, both now and forevermore.” This verse could be used to argue that no one ever stops extolling or praising the Lord. Not even death stops the exaltation. We use this verse not to argue for consciousness, but to show that contradictions occur if we take verses out of the psalms and treat them as statements of fact.

3. His thoughts perish

Psalm 146:4 (NKJV), “His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; In that very day, his plans perish”.

Examination. Some translations say “thoughts”, but the hebrew says more appropriately, “plans perish” or come to nothing meaning their earthly plans perish, without referring to the state after death. When a person dies, his earthly plans, ambitions and thoughts perish with him. When you are dead, you cannot contribute anything to fulfill your earthly ambitions under the sun. Again Psalms 146 is talking from an earthly perspective.

4. Grave cannot praise God

Isaiah 38:18, “The grave cannot praise you; death cannot sing your praise; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for your faithfulness.”

Examination: Isaiah also speaks poetically about death. Isaiah 14:9 says that sheol, “is all astir to meet you at your coming; it rouses the spirits of the departed.” Some translations say, “It stirs up the dead for you”. This makes it sound like the people in sheol can be awakened – but this may be spoken in irony or sarcasm against the king of Babylon, using beliefs of Babylon to mock him. So, one passage describes sheol as silent; another describes conscious people in sheol. Which is figurative, and which is descriptive? Both are figurative, they are not meant to reveal the nature of the afterlife.  

5. Lazarus was sleeping.

John 11:11-14, “Jesus said, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.’ His disciples said, ‘Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.’ Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples though he meant natural sleep. So, Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead.’”  

Examination. In John 11, Jesus said that a dead man was “asleep”. Jesus called death sleep. Being dead is like being asleep — unconscious. Lazarus never said anything about where he was — and if he had been conscious in heaven, then Jesus made his condition worseby bringing him back to life on earth, right? So, Lazarus was asleep, unconscious. But wait a minute.

However, pagans used this figure of speech too. Even pagans who believed in a conscious afterlife referred to death as sleep. A figure of speech does not prove anything. There is of course a difference between death, unconsciousness, and sleep. When we sleep, we are conscious (we can see dreams). Is that how “sleep” is used for the dead? Or are the dead unconscious unlike sleep? The analogy of “death as sleep” cannot tell us whether a dead person can have dreams (like sleep) or is unconscious (unlike sleep).

As we have examined above, we see that every soul-sleep scripture has a serious weakness. If people approach these scriptures cautiously, perhaps they would be open to the following Scriptures. Before that, let us see what the Bible teaches about man.

1. The Bible teaches that man has a spirit, and the Lord formed it. 

  • There is a spirit in man.” (Job 32:8)
  • What man know the things of a man, save (except) the spirit of a man which is in him?” (I Cor. 2:11). 
  • The Lord forms the spirit of man within him.” (Zech. 12:1). 

2. The word “soul” is used in varying senses in the Bible.

The word soul is employed in varying senses within the different biblical contexts in which they may be found. The Hebrew term for “soul” is nephesh. The Greek term is psuche.   

  • Soul is used for a living person. “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground (body) and breathed into his nostrils the breath (spirit) of life; and man became a living being (soul)” (Genesis 2:7). “The soul (person) who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20). But this is not its only meaning.
  • Soul is life itself such as all creatures have “life” Gen 1:30, “Everything that moves on the earth which has life”.
  • Soul is used as the aspect of man that is emotional and intellectual such as in Job 30:16, “And now my soul is poured out within me
  • Soul is used as an life aspect that is departing the person at death: “It came about as her soul was departing (for she died), that she named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin” (Genesis 35:18). “Then the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived” (1 Kings 17:21, 22).
  • Soul is also referred to as something distinct from the body of a person: “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul. but rather fear Him [God] who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28). 

Now some would argue that “Souls” die basedonEzekiel 18:4, 20, “The soul who sins is the one who will die.” Howeveras we have seen above, “soul” sometimes means “person”, but sometimes it means something more than the body. Ezekiel 18:4, 20 says nothing about the nature of the afterlife. And Matthew 10:28 says the soul is something that can survive ordinary death: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” If the body is all there is of the man, if the soul is simply the life of the body, then men can kill the soul. But Jesus says they cannot kill the soul. But the question remains, is it conscious?

3. The word “spirit” is used in varying senses in the Bible.

As with soul, the word “spirit” may take on different senses, depending upon its contextual setting. In the Old Testament, “spirit” is ruach. The Greek term is pneuma.

  • Spirit can refer to the air we breath or wind as found in such as people pursuing empty goals are but striving after the wind (Eccl. 1:14, 17).
  • Spirit can refer to the breadth of life in me. “All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils” (Job 27:3).
  • Spirit can refer to non-material being of God such as “God is a spirit” (John 4:24).
  • Spirit can refer  to a whole person himself or the spirit behind the person such as “Believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world (1 Jn. 4:1).
  • Spirit can refer to the character of the person. “But let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:4).
  • Spirit can refer to non-material beings such as angels. “Are not all angels spirits in the divine service” (Hebrews 1:14).
  • Spirit can be used as a synonym for the soul such as “I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.” (Job 7:1`).
  • Spirit does not have flesh and bones and is a non-material living thing. When disciples thought they had seen a spirit, Jesus said, “See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” (Luke 24:39).

Sometimes the spirit and soul, which are (non-material part of man), is used distinguishably from the body (material part of man). 

  • “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow [body], and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrew 4:12).
  • “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).  
  • Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul. but rather fear Him [God] who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28). 

Now some contend that man’s spirit is just breadth as we saw from Job 27:3. But that is not the case as seen from how the word spirit is used in the Bible. Here are a few more scriptures showing the difference between a person’s breath and spirit:

A.     “What man knows the things of a man, save except the spirit (not breadth) of a man which is in him?” (I Cor. 2:11). Then the spirit is that part of man that can think, reason, know.

B.     Therefore, I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit (not breadth), I will complain in the bitterness of my soul” (Job 7:11). Then the spirit is that part of man that can feel.

C.     “The spirit (not breadth) of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the innermost parts of his being.” (Proverbs 20:27). Then the spirit is that part of man that can search his inner being.

D.    The [Holy] Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit (not breadth) that we are children of God (Romans 8:15–17).

E.     “Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer man [body] is decaying, yet our inner man [spirit] is being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16). So, there is a part of man that is “the inner man” that is being renewed daily, while the outer man is decaying.

Hence, the overall testimony of scripture is that man (a living soul) is not simply body plus breath, but body (physical nature) and spirit/soul (non-material nature). So if that is true, that man (a living soul) is not body plus breath, but body (physical nature) and spirit/soul (non-material nature), then the next logical question is, “What happens to the body and the spirit/soul when we die”?

4. The body is dead without the spirit

“The body without the spirit is dead.” (James 2:26).

The body is dependent upon the spirit to be alive. Therefore, the body is dead without the spirit. Now what happens to the “body” at death is not the same as what happens to the “spirits” of the righteous. The Bible often refers to death by the euphemism of “sleep”. However, that euphemism is only applied to the body, never to the spirit. “Sleep” always describes the appearance of the body at death, but never the state of the spirit.

The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised” (Matt. 27:52)

“Your dead will live; their bodies will rise” (Isaiah 26:19).

So, if the body sleeps at death and goes to the grave, where do you think are “the spirits of the righteous” men now? Hebrews 12:22-23 gives us a glimpse of, this is the already, not yet, part of our theology. My citizenship is now in heaven (Philippians 3:20), but I do not live there yet. I still live here. So, it is true of me being a citizen in heaven there, but I am not there yet. So, the author of Hebrews says while we are running the race on earth, all the angels are gathered in joyful assembly there in this magnificent scene in heaven, Jesus is there, and also “the spirits of the righteous men”:

“You have come to…the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn… You have come to God… to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant” (Hebrews 12:22-23).

Why are “the spirits of the righteous” there in heaven if they are not supposed to be there until the resurrection? Now the text does not say the “spirits” are conscious or unconscious. However, if the spirits are unconscious, it would be also anti-climactic to mention them. The angels are conscious, Jesus is conscious, why not the spirits, too? Their ‘spirits’ have been made perfect. They are perfectly holy, and righteous, and virtuous; they are described as “spirits” as they are yet to receive their resurrection bodies. 

So, the dying Stephen said, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59).Of course, Stephen was not saying receive my breadth.

“For you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen. 3:19). “Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.” (Eccl. 12:7).

Therefore, not once in all the Bible is it said or intimated that the spirit ever dies, while it is distinctly stated that it does not go down to dust with the body. Instead it returns to God.

5. He who believes in me will never die

He who believes in me will never die.” (John 11:26).

If death means sleep, then this means that “He who believes in me will never sleep”. Instead, this text is teaching us that though our bodies may die, believers will continue to live, even while awaiting the resurrection of the body. Note this promise of “never die” is only for “believers”. This promise of “not die” therefore do not apply for the wicked, in the sense “of eternal life” that applies to the righteous.

·         One thing needs to be stated about immortality. As for the question of man’s original state, man was created neither immortal (see Gn. 3:22–24) nor mortal (see Gn. 2:17) but with the potentiality to become either, depending on his obedience or disobedience to God. While not created with immortality, he was certainly created for immortality. 

·         Regarding “immortality”, three Greek terms are used in the New Testament to express the idea of immortality: athanasia, ‘deathlessness’ (as in 1 Cor. 15:53–54); aphtharsia, ‘incorruptibility’ (Rom. 2:7); and aphthartos, ‘incorruptible’ (Rom. 1:23). It is significant that the terms are never used in association with the word ‘soul’ (psyche) or spirit, although Christ says there is something about the “soul” that cannot be “killed” at the death of the body (Matt. 10:28). For Paul, immortality is a natural attribute of God alone (1 Tim. 6:16). For believers, immortality is conditional, but only in the sense that there is no “eternal life” except in Christ.

Some say that when Christians believe that believers “do not die”, they are actually believing the devil’s lie that “You will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4). Well, Jesus says believers will never die. Was Jesus lying too? Of course not. God said, “on the day that you eat from it you will certainly die” (Gen 2:17). Adam and Eve died on that day, in a real sense! They died spiritually, and how long they would live in the body was also affected. Gen 2:17 is no evidence for what happens after death for believers this side of the cross. Jesus says, “He who believes in me will never die.” (John 11:26).

6. He is not God of the dead but of the living.

Matthew 22:31-32, “But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.

Jesus is talking about the afterlife in the above passage. Jesus is saying that the patriarchs are living, even centuries after they died. Jesus does this while arguing that a resurrection will take place in the future, but he still uses “living” to refer to people who had died such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob.

7. Away from the body and at home with the Lord.

In 2 Corinthians 5:1-9, Paul explains something like this. Let us review it verse by verse.

“For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1).

We know. This is not some wishful theory, some speculative idea, but it is stated as well-established Christian theology in Scriptures.

If the earthly tent which is our house is torn down: Paul is talking about his body which is decaying. Paul uses “earthly tent” here to refer to the body. It is the temporary “house” in which we dwell. In other words, the “body” is the home of the “spirit”. Peter used the same language: “As long as I am in this tent.” “Knowing that shortly I must put off my tent.” 2 Pet. 1:13, 14. If this tent is torn down (body destroyed in death), what do we have?

We have a building from God. If this tent is torn down (body destroyed in death), Paul states categorically that we are going to go from a tent to a building.

A house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. We are going to go from something that is a part of this creation to something that is not, a house not made with hands, which is a phrase referring to something not of this creation. It is from heaven, from God. 

“For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven” (2 Corinthians 5:2).

For indeed in this house. This “tent-house,” our present body.

We groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven. We long to be transformed into our eternal existence to escape the deterioration, pain and suffering experienced as this “tent” is being torn down. Paul is mixing his metaphors. He is comparing the house from heaven being put on by us as if it were clothing. What is Paul talking about? He is talking about his resurrection body (which is the dwelling from heaven), the glorious body we will receive at the second coming of Christ.

“Inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked” (2 Corinthians 5:3).

Inasmuch as we, having put it on, shall not be found naked. When we put that “resurrection body”, we would not be found naked. So, being naked would be a condition in which you did not have your resurrection body, right? Nakedness would be a condition when you did not have your resurrection body, because when you put it on you are not found what? Naked. Also, nakedness is not your condition in this tent now, or mortal body either, because you are clothed with a tent that you now have as a mortal. So, what is Paul talking about by “not be found naked”? He is talking about that his hope as a believer is not some spiritual life to come, but a life that also involves a resurrection body. Bodiless-ness to Paul, and to any thinking Christian, is a repulsive thought. We are to be a person, not a spirit without “flesh and bones” (this is not the same as ‘flesh and blood’ mind you).

“For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life (2 Corinthians 5:4).

For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan. While we are in this “tent” or body, we are groaning for the redemption of our body, being burdened, weighed down by afflictions, and weakness, because. Why?

Because we do not want to be unclothed. We do not want to be “unclothed” or “naked”. We do not want to be in that condition of a bodiless soul. We do not want to just exist as disembodied spirits, naked and unclothed.  

But to be clothed. Paul wants the second coming of Christ to happen so that he will not have to die and be without a body, but rather have his present body swallowed up, or clothed in the glorious resurrection life of the new body, “so that what is mortal [body] will be swallowed up by life [resurrection body]”. In Greek and pagan culture, they taught that when you died, you continued to exist like a bodiless spirit, but Paul rebukes that Greek teaching, and teaches that we will not remain “unclothed”, but we will be “clothed” with resurrection bodies.

“Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge” (2 Corinthians 5:5).

God is the one who has been working for us and in us for the express purpose of mortality [body] being swallowed up by eternal life [resurrection body]. The Holy Spirit, given to all true believers, is the great down payment, guaranteeing the coming change.

“Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— [7] for we walk by faith, not by sight— (2 Corinthians 5:6–7).

Therefore, being always of good courage. The “Therefore” refers to the fact that we have already received the Holy Spirit as a pledge of our coming inheritance, that is the hope of resurrection of the body.

Knowing that. Again, note the assurance, “knowing”. This is not speculation or wishful thinking; it is “knowing.”

While we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. Means while our ‘spirit’ or “inward man” is living in our “tent” or body. Now Paul clearly says that during this life in the body or tent, we are “absent from the Lord.” He inserts, “We walk by faith, not by sight.” Physical sight or visible evidence does not easily prove the afterlife. We must grasp it by faith: (1) a faith which rests upon the literal resurrection of Jesus who is our life; (2) the Holy Spirit-inspired Word of God and (3) the reality of our new birth—being born of the spirit.”

“We are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:9).

We are of good courage. Paul now reaffirms that he and his companions are of good courage, meaning that they are walking by faith because they already know they have a glorious body waiting at the resurrection.

Prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Paul cannot be speaking of an existence at the “resurrection of the body” at the second coming, for then he would not be “absent from the body”, instead he would be in the body [the resurrection body] and at home with the Lord.By being absent from the body, Paul is talking about a condition of man being “naked” and “unclothed” without a body, yet present with the Lord.This is the condition that man appears to be in between death and resurrection.Paul knew that Christ was with him even in this age, but he preferred to leave his body so he would be with the Lord in a better way. However, he did not want to be in the condition of “naked” or “unclothed”, as disembodied spirit, but he was willing to, for a period, if necessary, if he could be with the Lord as soon as possible. Would Paul prefer unconsciousness with Christ as better than consciousness with Him now?

“Therefore, we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him” (2 Corinthians 5:9).

Paul’s ambition is to be pleasing to the Lord both now in this life and in the after life including the time between death and the resurrection of the body.

For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleepwe will live together with Him” (1 Thessalonians 5:10)

Here is the crucial point: If Paul had his preference, he would choose to receive his new resurrection body (to be clothed) at the second coming of Christ without having to die. And the reason he gives is that the experience of “nakedness” — that is being stripped of his body — is not something as good as having his body swallowed up by life as he is changed in the twinkling of an eye at the second coming of Christ.

This means that the great final hope of the Christian is not to die and be freed from our bodies, but to be raised with new, glorious bodies, or, best of all, to be alive at the second coming so that we do not have to lose our body temporarily and be “naked” as souls or spirits without bodies (Matthew 10:28; Hebrews 12:23).

8. The possibility of being “in body” or “out of the body”

This is an interesting verse. While it does not teach anything about after life, it does teach that a man could be in his body and go to heaven and hear words like in vision, or man could be out of his body and go to heaven and hear words there. 

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows— was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. (2 Corinthians 12:2-4).

9. Depart and be with Christ

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better (Philippians 1:21-23).

When he wrote to the church at Philippi, he was in prison, thinking about the possibility of death. Paul had Christ in this life, yet he apparently felt he would have more of Christ if he died and “departed” from this life. Would he count departing from this body, and sleeping (unconscious) since the second coming of Christ as “depart and be with Christ”?

10. John the Revelator sees “souls” in heaven.

Revelation is a symbolic book, so one must be careful when interpreting it. Interestingly, John sees “souls” in heaven, not bodies, and they are depicted as conscious. Are they the “spirits of the righteous” that Hebrews speaks about?

 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained. And they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:9-10)

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years (Revelation 20:4).

John sees souls, not bodies. First, they are described as martyrs (they had been beheaded). These souls were seen by the Apostle “under the altar,” (Revelation 6:9) that is, before the throne of God in heaven. Though the language of “souls” need not require that these saints are no longer dwelling in the body, the reference to their beheading implies that this is the case. Now the Adventist would say God does not keep literal souls under a literal altar in heaven. Of course, God would not. The imagery of souls slain and crying in heaven is to convey a reality of the cry of all martyrs who died for Christ. Now John also saw for instance, a “Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth” (Revelation 5:6). Now does Jesus always stand in heaven as if slain with seven horns and seven eyes? Of course not. This is imagery, and such imagery does not deny the existence of Jesus as a person or the existence of souls.

11. Does not the Bible say David is not ascended into the heavens?

David slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David.” (1 Kings 2:10)

Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day… he [David] looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand ” (Acts 2:29-34).

Was David’s spirit or soul buried in the tomb? No, only the body sleeps. The context shows plainly that this is said of the body. David “is both dead and buried [his body] and his tomb is with us.” Peter is not speaking of David’s soul here, but of his body. Since David’s body has not yet been raised, it is clear that he has not yet “ascended” in the bodily resurrection that happens at the second coming. David’s spirit returned to God, just as his body returned to dust, and is awaiting ‘bodily” resurrection and ascension at the second coming of Christ.

12. The comma of Luke 23:43

Jesus told the thief on the cross, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43).

Is the comma in the right place? Jesus did not need to stress the day of his promise. That was already known. Jesus stressed how soon the thief would be in paradise. Both Jesus and the thief went that day to paradise. But the passage does not say whether they were conscious. The word paradise is a synonym of heaven (Revelation 2:7; 2 Cor. 12:2-4). The three times it is used in Scripture all refer to the presence of the Lord.

Did Jesus rob Lazarus of the bliss of heaven? 

Anyone who was resurrected by Jesus or a prophet was raised for God’s glory. They were special cases. So, you think if God used them for His glory, they would consider it a blessing and a privilege to come back to earth and serve Him or they would consider it being robbed of a blessing – heavenly bliss? As a born again believer, if you were brought back to earth from heaven, will you serve God on earth, just like Jesus left heaven, and all glory, and came as a servant?

Why don’t the resurrected (e.g.: Lazarus) share their testimonies?

Whether Lazarus told his neighbors about heaven is only speculation.

  • What if Lazarus shared their testimonies, but the Holy Spirit did not think it was important to include it in the recorded Scriptures?  
  • What if Jesus commanded them to be silent about it like after healing a man of leprosy (Mark 1:41-42), “Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: ’see that you don’t tell this to anyone…‘” (Mark 1:43-44).
  • Will you only believe if the resurrected shared their testimonies? 

What about the Rich man and Lazarus? Parable or not, Jesus plainly used this story to teach that after death the unrighteous are eternally separated from God.

13. I have not ascended to my Father

Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father” (John 20:17).

The day Jesus died, Jesus’ spirit was committed to the Father just like Stephen, “Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.” (Luke 23:46). Jesus also told the thief on the cross, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43).

So, Jesus’ ‘spirit’ had been with the Father, but His ‘body’ (just like David’s) had not yet ascended into heaven when he spoke to Mary. The bodily ascension of Jesus took place several weeks later.

But why did Jesus say to Mary, Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father (John 20:17). What does Jesus mean, do not cling to me? Do not forget that the other Mary’s ‘held Him [Jesus] by the feet and worshiped Him’ (Matt 28:9) on the resurrection day. So touching Jesus should not be an issue. The Greek word here means to “cling to” to “fasten on” to “grasp” an object. The tense is present, and the prohibition is, therefore, not of an individual act, but of a continuation of the act without stopping, “Do not continue clinging to Me”. Mary was holding to Jesus, as a lover would hold, without letting go of Him ever again, as we may see in Song of Solomon 3:4.”Scarcely had I left them When I found him whom my soul loves; I held on to him and would not let him go”. Jesus is telling Mary, do not hold me like that continuously, I am still with you for a while, I am yet to leave you and ascend to the Father.

13. Other verses.

Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?” (Hebrews 12:9). If God is the Father of spirits, then, necessarily, his children must partake of that spiritual nature.

That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). Notice the marked contrast between flesh and spirit. They are of different natures. 

The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees believe all these things” (Acts 23:8). The Pharisees believed in the resurrection, in angels and in spirits, and so did Paul. Many Christians believe the first two and deny the third.

And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him [Jesus]” (Mathew 17:3). Elijah was taken to heaven without seeing death, but Moses died, and his body was buried on earth (Deuteronomy 34:6), and nowhere are we told Moses’ body was resurrected. Michael disputing with Satan over Moses’ body does not reveal that Moses was resurrected bodily (regarding this incident in Jude 1:9, no specific reason is given in the context, but several theories have been suggested). Even If Moses was resurrected bodily, then he becomes a special bodily resurrection case, and this again does not affect the spiritual reality of the soul of believers.

15. At the second coming God will bring those departed “spirits of the righteous” saints with Him when He comes.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus”(1 Thessalonians 4:13-14).

In verse 14, the resurrection of the bodies has not happened. This coming of the Lord with the saints is the signal for the dead—i.e., the bodies that sleep—to rise in verse 16:

“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-16).

Similar to the Lord “will bring with Him” the saints at the second coming, Revelation 19 describes the second coming of Christ, and when He comes, he will come with an “army” of saints who are clothed in fine linen.

“And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. (Revelation 19:14).  

Fine linen is what is worn by the “saints” 6 verses ago in the same chapter.

“It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (Revelation 19:8).

16. He will then raise up for them “the spirits of the righteous” imperishable bodies in the resurrection.

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised [resurrection] imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52).

17. The concept of ‘soul sleep’ intends to do justice to the doctrine of the resurrection of the body, but it undermines the spiritual reality of the soul. However, when doctrines of new age, and “Isms” that promote reincarnation are in the air, we must affirm the spiritual reality of the soul with discretion.

18. The truth that to be absent from the body means we will be present with the Lord refutes 1) the false doctrine of “purgatory” (saying that the believing dead must be “cleaned up” through their own suffering before coming into the presence of God). 2) the false idea that “spirits” are stuck in this world to haunt people or the pagan idea that people can communicate with the dead spirits or dead loved ones from earth.

19. The final reward for believers is the “resurrection of their bodies”, and blessings of living with Christ in the new heavens and new earth (Revelation 20-21). Yet, the Bible appears to teach that the “spirits of the righteous” go to be with God at death and remain with Him till the resurrection of the “bodies” where immortality and incorruption is granted. This reality as “spirits” “unclothed”, “naked” before God’s presence is possible only for the righteous because, “Truly, truly, I [Jesus] say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment [condemnation], but has passed [paste tense] out of death into life” (John 5:24). 

20. The Bible only reveals a limited amount of information about what goes on in the presence of the Lord for believers between death and resurrection of bodies (similarly for the wicked in the absence of God’s presence).

21. The Scripture teaches that man is more than body + breadth. This teaching that man has both a material nature “body” and a non-material “spirit” nature, is not a peripheral issue. However, no matter whether we are unconscious or fully conscious, for believers in “Christ”, they will be with the Lord.

For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleepwe will live together with Him” (1 Thessalonians 5:10)

Truth About the Sanctuary Truth

SDAs teach that, “What was done in type in the ministration of the earthly sanctuary is done in reality in the ministration of the heavenly sanctuary(GC420)”. Does Jesus’s ministry in heaven follow the pattern of the Old Covenant Sanctuary ministry? Does such a belief withstand biblical investigation and testimonies from the word of God? The purpose of this section is to review the sanctuary doctrine of the SDA church.

1. Earthly sanctuary is a “shadow” of the heavenly, not a duplicate

Nearly 2,500 years after Adam, Moses was shown “an example and shadow” (Heb 8:5) of the heavenly things to teach an object lesson to the Israelites. What Moses was shown was not an exact duplicate of the heavenly sanctuary itself. According to the blueprint given to Moses, they were to make ten curtains of “fine twined linen,” each one four by twenty-eight cubits; and eleven curtains of goat’s hair, each four by thirty cubits; and then a covering of “rams’ skins dyed red;” and another covering of badgers’ skins.  In front of the tabernacle was to be placed the altar of burnt offerings with its grate, shovel, tongs etc. What Bible student will contend for a moment that in heaven there is a structure made of wooden boards overlaid with gold, held together with bars and covered with red goats’ skins and badger pelts? If the layer and the altar of burnt offerings were not patterns of things in the heavens, then what right has any one to contend that any of the furniture or service was an exact duplicate of the heavenly?

2. Do SDAs truthfully teach that Jesus is following the Old Testament Sanctuary pattern in Heaven?

If Jesus is following the pattern of the earthly sanctuary, then it should be obvious from the New Testament Scriptures, and the teachings of the SDAs. However, Seventh-day Adventists are really not that seriously interested in teaching pattern-fulfillment except when it involves their own view of the Day of Atonement. Notice the following:

  • The earthly sanctuary, which was a shadow of the heavenly, places the ark or throne of God in the holy of holies, or second apartment, while the priest was ministering in the first apartment. Guess where SDA’s place it? SDA’s place the throne of God in the first apartment while the priest ministers in that same apartment, in violation of the type.
  • The earthly sanctuary represents the high priest as going from the court where the Lord’s goat was slain directly into the holy of holies, on the day of atonement. SDAs teach that Christ went from his ministry in the first apartment, and not from the earth where he died, into the holy of holies on the day of atonement which they begin in 1844.
  • The earthly sanctuary sends the high priest directly through the first apartment into the holy of holies as soon as he has in his hands the blood of the Lord’s goat, or the blood that pays the penalty of sin. SDA’s view stops our great High Priest in the first apartment when he has his own blood which paid the penalty of sin.

The above facts are plain enough to show that SDAs do not live up to their claim that, what was done in type in the ministration of the earthly sanctuary is done in reality in the ministration of the heavenly sanctuary. They will only speak of pattern-fulfilment when it suits their view of atonement.

3. Jesus is not a Levitical priest who follows the earthly pattern

Now if what is done in type is done in realty, then we can expect Jesus to do things like Aaron did, like a Levitical priest. If we think of Jesus as the anti-typical high priest doing the ongoing work of the anti-typical “Day of Atonement” during the investigative judgment, we then have no trouble believing that Jesus is following the earthly pattern just like the Levitical priesthood. However, instead of following the Old Covenant pattern of Levitical priesthood, Jesus “descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests” (Hebrews 7:14). In fact, regarding Christ’s ministry in heaven, the book Hebrews teaches “pattern-dissolution,” not “pattern-fulfillment”. Christ was out of Judah “who has come, not according to a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an endless life” (Hebrews 7:16), meaning that His ministry is not patterned according to the Old covenant law. While the Bible is clear that Jesus is not a Levitical priest, Adventism shows us that He is. Because there was a change of priesthood, “there is made of necessity a change also of the law.” (Hebrews 7:12). Christ coming from an entirely different priesthood and serving under an entirely different law, cannot be confined or limited to the Levitical law governing the priesthood. At the crucifixion of Christ, the Levitical priesthood came to an end and the law governing the priesthood ceased to operate. Then why should anyone insist on explaining the priesthood of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary be after the pattern of the Levitical priesthood which not only ceased to have authority, but even the law governing that priesthood became inoperative?

4. SDA assumptions

The whole system of SDA sanctuary doctrine rests on the false supposition and assumption that the confessed sins of God’s people were carried into the first apartment of the sanctuary in the blood and sprinkled before or on the vail, thus defiling the sanctuary, and consequently requiring a service of cleansing on the day of atonement. Essentially, the SDAs teach that the blood from “daily” sacrifices defiles the sanctuary, whilst the blood of the sacrifice, pertaining to the yearly Day of Atonement, cleanses the sanctuary. Let’s see if the Bible teaches such a teaching.

5. Only sins of ignorance when it is remembered were confessed

The book of Leviticus makes it clear that (normally) only “sins of ignorance” or unintentional non-high-handed sins committed accidentally (when remembered) could be atoned through individual confession and sacrifice. In other words, only general and accidental sins were daily confessed in the sanctuary.

  • If a person shall sin through ignorance against any of the commandments of the LORD…( Lev. 4:2)
  • When a ruler has sinned, and done somewhat through ignorance against any of the commandments of the LORD ….( Lev 4:12)
  • And if the whole congregation of Israel sin through ignorance, and the thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which should not be done, and are guilty (Lev. 4:13)
  • Or if a soul touch any unclean thing, whether it be a carcass of an unclean beast, or a carcass of unclean cattle, or the carcass of unclean creeping things, and if it be hidden from him; he also shall be unclean, and guilty (Lev. 5:2)

The only kinds of sins which were brought to the sanctuary for atonement were: sins of ignorance committed either inadvertently or accidentally (Lev. 4-5; Num. 15); sins of omission where one failed to do what was right (Lev. 6); theft requiring restitution (Lev. 6); sins of obligation where one was forced into defilement such as touching a dead relative (Lev. 11); leprosy (Lev. 13-15); other minor trespasses against God’s standards of holiness (Lev. 19), and jealousy over suspected marital infidelity (Num. 5). This discussion of what kinds of sins were actually brought to the sanctuary is not found in the Adventist sanctuary doctrine.

6. Not Presumptuous sins

Presumptuous, pre-meditated, intentional, willful sins could not be atoned by daily sacrifices. Premeditated (willful, deliberate, high-handed) sins were NOT brought to the sanctuary for atonement under the statutes and ordinances of the Law because pre-meditated sins could not be atoned by daily personal sacrifices, but the guilt had to be borne by the sinner.

“But the person that does anything presumptuously [defiantly], whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproaches the LORD; and that person shall be cut off from among his people. [Note that no sacrifice was prescribed.]. Numb. 15:31 Because he has despised the word of the LORD, and has broken his commandment, that person shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him”(Numb. 15:30)

When a serious high-handed deliberate sin had been committed, death, or cutting off, was often the penalty, or consequence. The judges declared a “life for life, eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.” No sacrifice was acceptable! Death not a sacrifice was the punishment for idolatry (Ex. 22:20), blaspheme of God’s name (Lev. 24:16); adultery (Lev. 20:10), incest (Lev. 20:11), homosexuality (Lev. 20:13), working on the Sabbath Day (Ex. 31:14); cursing parents (Lev. 20:9), child sacrifice (Lev. 20:2), sex with animals (Lev. 20:15) and witchcraft (Ex. 22:18). The guilty persons “bore their own iniquity.” See Numb. 5:31; 30:15 ; Eze. 18:20.

Unlike the old covenant, however, the new covenant takes care of presumptuous and willful sins as explained in Acts 13:39. Our practice of confessing and receiving forgiveness of all sins (high-handed, deliberate, willful, general and accidental) does not follow the Old Covenant sanctuary pattern at all. Yet the book of Leviticus makes it clear that (normally) only unintentional non-high-handed sins committed accidentally or in ignorance could be atoned through individual confession and sacrifice. Where another’s property was involved, confession required restitution plus an offering (Lev. 5:16; 6:4-5). Therefore, when Seventh-day Adventists include confessed and forgiven deliberate sins among those which (they say) defile the most holy place during the daily ministration of the sanctuary service (Old and New Covenant) they blatantly misunderstand and misrepresents the nature of the sins involved.

Again, no presumptuous, premeditated, high-handed sin was ever brought to the sanctuary for sacrifice and atonement. Since those sins were punished instead of forgiven, they would not be entered into the books of heaven. How did they get to heaven? Why does not SDA theology explain where these sins are in their Investigative Judgment scenario?

7. Sacrificial Blood carried no sin, but was the proof of payment for sin

Here’s a verse-by-verse explanation of the daily Jewish sanctuary service from Leviticus 4:16-20

And the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands upon the head of the bullock before the Lord: and the bullock shall be killed before the Lord (Leviticus 4:15)

And the elders of the congregation. In this situation, as the whole congregation could not lay their hands on the victim, their representatives (elders) had to perform this act. Besides this sin offering there was only one other congregational offering upon which there was this laying of hands: i.e., the scape-goat (Leviticus 16:21) ritual on the day of atonement.

Lay their hands upon the head of the bullock. Laying hands represented confession of sins, transferring guilt and identifying with the sacrifice as their substitute. The bullock shall be killed in the court near the altar of burnt offering, either by a priest, or Levite, or by a butcher.

And the priest that is anointed shall bring of the bullock’s blood to the tabernacle of the congregation (Leviticus 4:16)

The appointed priest brings the bullock’s blood to the tabernacle of the congregation. The blood of the sacrifice represented the substituted sinless life of Jesus which effected the atonement. Sinless blood paid the price for sin.

And the priest shall dip his finger in some of the blood, and sprinkle it seven times before the Lord, even before the vail (Leviticus 4:17)

Dip his finger in some of the blood, and sprinkle it. The blood was not to be poured out there but sprinkled only. The cleansing virtue of the blood of Christ was sufficiently represented by sprinkling. Moses “sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry, and almost all things are by the law purged [cleansed] with blood.

The blood did not transport any sins into the sanctuary, nor did it defile the sanctuary as SDAs teach. The blood was brought inside the sanctuary not to defile it, but as a proof (receipt of payment rendered) that the redemption price had already been fully paid, and to symbolize that “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Once again, see what sprinkling of blood does. “For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh” (Hebrews 9:13). Sacrificial blood is the redemption price for sin (Eph. 1:7; Heb. 9:12). Redemption blood brings the sinner “near” to God by reconciliation—not by defiling God’s dwelling place (Eph. 2:13). God could not declare “peace through the blood” if that same blood had separated him from God by defiling his throne (Col. 1:20).

Sprinkle it seven times before the Lord. Seven is a number of perfection, so this signified the perfect satisfaction the blood made on behalf of the sinner, and the complete cleansing of the souls of the faithful by it. By the way, there is absolutely no difference between the sin offering of the Day of Atonement and the sin offering on other days. “And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it [the whole sanctuary] with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel (Leviticus 16:19). Blood always cleanses the sinner, never defiles the sanctuary. The priest announces to the penitent that “an atonement for him before the LORD” had been made and that he was “forgiven” of his “trespass” (Lev. 4:20; 5:6; 6:7).

“And he shall put some of the blood upon the horns of the altar which is before the Lord, that is in the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall pour out all the blood at the bottom of the altar of the burnt offering, which is at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation (Leviticus 4:18)

In the case of sin of the high priest (4:1-12) or of the whole nation (13-21), some blood from the sacrifice was poured out on the altar of burnt offerings, and some was taken into the Holy Place, where it was sprinkled in front of the veil and placed on the horns of the altar of incense. This was to show that approach to God, previously hindered through sin, was possible again, because atonement had been made. Once again, the blood is a “cleansing” agent. Atoned sins did not defile or transfer sin into the sanctuary.  This is an SDA assumption without support in the Bible. SDAs had to invent this idea to support their investigative judgement doctrine.

And he shall take all his fat from him, and burn it upon the altar. (Leviticus 4:19)

The fat was the only part of the animal which was offered on the altar; for the carcass, it was carried outside the camp, into the place where the ashes were deposited, and there consumed with fire (Lev. 4:21). When people saw this being done, people knew that the ritual was over: sin had been judged,  and fellowship with God was restored.

And he shall do with the bull as he did with the bull as a sin offering; thus he shall do with it. So the priest shall make atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them” (Leviticus 4:20)

By the way burnt offerings, cereal offerings and peace offerings were not compulsory; people made them voluntarily to express their devotion. The sin offering, however, was compulsory whenever people realized they had committed some (accidental) sin that broke their fellowship with God. In the other offerings there was an element of atonement (for sin affects everything that people do), but in the sin offering, atonement was the central issue. Continuing from verse 20:

Priest shall make atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them. When the sin offering is completed, it is said, atonement is made, and the sin shall be forgiven. This formula recurs with all the sin-offerings (with the exception of the one for the high priest). See: Leviticus 4:26, Leviticus 4:31, Leviticus 4:35, Leviticus 5:10, Leviticus 5:13; Numbers 15:25-26, Numbers 15:28; also, with the trespass-offerings, Leviticus 5:16, Leviticus 5:18; Leviticus 19:22.

Sin offerings in the daily sanctuary service presented for defilements “cleansed” (taher) the sinner as the effect of the atoning sacrifice (Leviticus 12:7-8; Leviticus 13:20, Leviticus 13:53; Numbers 8:21). Taher is the word used for “cleanse”, which is the same word used on the day of atonement ritual (Leviticus 16:19).

“And the priest shall offer the sin offering, and make an atonement for him that is to be cleansed (taher) from his uncleanness; and afterward he shall kill the burnt offering (Leviticus 14:19)

SDA’s have neglected the everyday cleansing atonements in the daily sanctuary service. Forms of “cleanse”, or the Hebrew word taher (used on the day of atonement ritual), are extremely common, occurring in descriptions of the everyday sanctuary routines over 60 times in Leviticus alone.

Summary: When the sacrifice died as a sin offering at the entrance of the sanctuary, the payment for the confessed sin was complete. The priest announced to the penitent that “an atonement for him before the LORD” had been made and that he was “forgiven” of his “trespass” (Lev. 4:20; 5:6 and 6:7) and “cleansed” (Leviticus 14:19).

The blood was brought inside the sanctuary (sprinkling), not to defile it, but as a proof (receipt of payment rendered) that the redemption price had already been fully paid, and symbolize blood cleanses the repentant of all sin. Therefore, contrary to what SDAs teach, there is no Bible text which says that atoned sins were transferred into the sanctuary through blood or transferred sin through blood defiled the sanctuary!!! Contrary to SDA theology, sacrificial blood always “cleansed” or “washed away” sins of people in the daily ministry. Sacrificial blood did not transfer sin to another place (to be dealt with later). SDA assume the confessed sins were transferred through the blood into the sanctuary to support their investigative judgement doctrine, but the text says no such thing. The atoned sins were washed away by the sinless blood of the sacrificial animal, a type of Christ. “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Blood of Jesus does not carry our sins into the sanctuary to defile the sanctuary and then cleanse it later! Why would believers want to boldly “enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus” if that “holiest” contained the accumulated sins of every believer since Adam thus making it the most unholy and most sinful place in the entire universe (Heb. 10:19 cf GC418-421)? Now if the atoned sins did not defile the sanctuary, what defiled the earthly sanctuary?

8. The sanctuary was defiled by un-atoned sins and ceremonial uncleanliness.

While SDAs emphatically stress that the sanctuary was defiled by the confessed, forgiven and atoned sins of God’s people, exactly the opposite is true! The sanctuary was defiled by un-atoned sins. In fact, the atoned sins were the only ones that did not defile the sanctuary!

  • ‘Thus you shall separate the children of Israel from their uncleanness, lest they die in their uncleanness when they defile My tabernacle that is among them. This is the law for one who has a discharge, and for him who emits semen and is unclean thereby (Leviticus 15:31-32)
  • Do not defile the land which you shall inhabit wherein I dwell. For I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel (Numb. 35:34)
  • That the land does not spit you out also when you defile it, as it spat out the nations that were before you. (Lev. 18:28; 18:1-28.)
  • Command the children of Israel that they put out of the camp every leper, and every one that has an issue [of blood] and whosoever is defiled by the dead. Put out both male and female. Put them outside the camp that they do not defile their camps in the MIDST whereof I dwell (Numb. 5:2-3)
  • Whoever touches the body of anyone who has died, and does not purify himself, defiles the tabernacle of the LORD. That person shall be cut off from Israel. He shall be unclean, because the water of purification was not sprinkled on him; his uncleanness is still on him (Numbers 19:13)

Leviticus 15:25-31 teaches that Israelite women who do not ritually purify themselves from their “issue of blood” “defile the sanctuary”. Leviticus 18:28 and Numbers 35:34 teach that the land itself was defiled by deliberate willful sin (which could not be brought into the sanctuary as unintentional sins). Like unclean women, Numbers 5:2-3 also teaches that lepers defile the camp. Yet, as long as they remained leprous, there was no sacrificial offering for them in the sanctuary. Fourth, in Numbers 19:13, 20, a person who touched dead animals or persons “and does not purify himself defiles the tabernacle.” 

Therefore, the sanctuary required a yearly cleaning, not because of confessed sins and not because (as SDAs teach) the priests had been transferring sin into the most holy place, but simply because of its location on earth in the middle of a sinful people. Therefore, contrary to what SDAs teach, there is no Bible text which says that atoned sins defile the sanctuary!!! The land, the camp and the tabernacle were all defiled by either deliberate sin or other sins or ceremonial uncleanliness which could not be atoned by sacrifice in the daily sanctuary service! Thus, exactly the opposite of what SDAs teach is true.

Let me repeat. There is no single Bible text (thus saith the Lord) which says that atoned or confessed sins defile the sanctuary or transfers sin into the sanctuary through the blood.On the contrary, the Bible teaches very plainly that God’s sanctuary was defiled by the sinning of the people that was not atoned.

“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Again, thou shalt say unto the children of Israel. whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones. And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name.” Lev. 20:1-3.

This scripture plainly teaches that when a man in Israel offered his children in sacrifice to the idol Molech, this sinful act defiled the sanctuary of the Lord and profaned his holy name, because his name was associated with his sanctuary. Such a sin was not atoned through the sanctuary service, instead was punished by death.

9. Were the blood of animals always taken into the first apartment?

There were but only three cases when the blood of an animal was carried in and sprinkled before the vail. In each case it was the blood of a bullock, and not the blood of a lamb or goat. The first was when the high priest committed a sin and repented; he brought the blood of a bullock and sprinkled it before the veil. (Lev. 4:3-6). The second was when the whole congregation sinned; a bullock was offered whose blood was sprinkled before the vail (Lev. 4:13-17). The third time the blood was taken into the first apartment was by the high priest in preparation for his entering into the most holy place on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:3-6).

Read the first nine chapters of the book of Leviticus, noting in part the burnt sacrifice (Lev. 1:3-5); the peace offering (Lev. 3:1-8); the case of the ruler committing sin (Lev 4:22-25); the common people (Lev 4: 27-34); the trespass offering (Lev 5:6-9). In every case, with the three above excepted, the blood instead of being carried into the first apartment of the tabernacle, was sprinkled on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and poured at the foot of the same altar. It never entered the holy place. Hence, when a ruler or a common Israelite took a sin-offering to the sanctuary the blood of the animal, a male goat (in the case of a ruler), or a ewe or a female goat (in the case of a common citizen), “was placed on the horns of the altar of burnt offering in the courtyard”, which means that not even one droplet of it ever entered the holy place. 

10. The Day of Atonement ritual only removed general sinfulness which remained & the entire Sanctuary needed cleansing on the day of atonement, not only the Most holy

SDAs teach that only the Most Holy Place required cleansing from the defilement of sacrificial blood which had carried confessed and atoned sins into it.However, Leviticus 16:15-20, 30, from the Day of Atonement’s most important chapter prove that exactly the opposite is true. Here’s a verse-by-verse explanation.

Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat (Leviticus 16:15 KJV)

Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering: The goat that was sacrificed was also like Jesus, in that the goat was spotless, was from the people of Israel (Leviticus 16:5), was chosen by God (Leviticus 16:8), and the goat’s blood was taken to the Most Holy Place to provide atonement.

Bring his blood within the vail, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat. The blood of this sin offering had to be sprinkled on the mercy seat, which was the lid to the ark of the covenant. The idea was that God’s presence was above the mercy seat (I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat, Leviticus 16:2), and as He looked down upon the ark of the covenant, He saw the sin of man. Man’s sin was represented by the items in the ark of the covenant: Manna Israel complained about, tablets and book of law Israel broke, and a budding almond rod given as a response to Israel’s rebellion. Then, the high priest sprinkled atoning blood seven times on the mercy seat – covering over the emblems of Israel’s sin. God saw the blood cover over the sin, and atonement was made. As we saw, sprinkling of blood in the sanctuary (daily or yearly) was to “cleanse” and forgive the sinner, and not to defile the sanctuary!

And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness (Leviticus 16:16)

He shall make an atonement for the holy place. Here the place within the veil, the holy of holies is in view, and atonement is made because of?

Because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel. This is in reference to theunatonedceremonial uncleanness of Israel during the year, which defiled the sanctuary, and needed atonement (reconciliation).

Because of their transgressions in all their sins. This is in reference to theunatoned transgressionsof Israel during the year, which defiled the sanctuary, and needed atonement (reconciliation). Hence, this was a general, all-inclusive, general cleansing of ALL of the remaining un-atoned sins of Israel. Since only non-high-handed sins “sins of ignorance” were allowed to be atoned through daily blood sacrifices, these texts are not referring to those specific sins which had already been forgiven, cleansed and atoned, during the daily sanctuary service, as we saw already. God does not require two different atonements for the same sins.

So shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness. Again, it’s the entire tabernacle including the courtyard, holy place that required cleansing because it was located in the “midst of,” in the middle of their uncleanliness or transgressions. The atonement was made for the entire sanctuary contrary to SDA explanation that only the Most Holy place required cleansing.

And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel (Leviticus 16:17)

This was commanded for the greater reverence to the Divine Majesty, then in a more special manner appearing, and that none of them might cast an eye into the holy of holies as the high priest went in or came out.

And he shall go out unto the altar that is before the Lord, and make an atonement for it; and shall take of the blood of the bullock, and of the blood of the goat, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about (Leviticus 16:18)

The high priest shall go out unto the altar that is before the Lord – that is, the altar of burnt sacrifice in the court, standing in front of the tabernacle, not the altar of incense.

And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel  (Leviticus 16:19)

The High priest then sprinkled with his right finger, seven times, upon the altar of burnt sacrifice that was in the courtyard.

 And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat (Leviticus 16:20)

Reconciling the holy place, the tabernacle, the altar. The three things mentioned here indicate the order in which the atonement was made—for the holy place (i.e. the Holy of Holies); the tent of meeting (the outer part of it) and the altar (outside the tabernacle).SDAs pattern-fulfillment theology must ignore this Bible truth that the Holy Place (the first tent) and the altar of burnt offering also required the cleansing ritual. They must ignore this in their explanation because Christ had already been ministering inside the Holy Place since his ascension. Moreover, the Adventist doctrine fails to explain why the Bible says that the entire sanctuary was cleansed on the Day of Atonement and not merely the Most Holy Place. Yet in the Adventist sequence, Jesus (at least) ministered in the Holy Place until 1844. This would have required that the Holy Place be cleansed first long before 1844. Why did not SDA theology pick this up? The answer is obvious but you decide!

He shall bring the live goat. The ritual of the scapegoat was not preformed after the sanctuary had been cleansed, but the ritual of the scapegoat BEGAN when the congregation chose two equally qualified goats to present to God as ONE sin offering. As part of the ritual, when the tabernacle itself was cleansed, Aaron then dealt with the sin of the people through the transference of sin and release of the live goat. The choosing of the goat “for Azazel” was an essential part of the removal of sin determined BEFORE the shedding of blood.

And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness (Leviticus 16:21)

A few verses earlier, we were told about the two goats: “And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering” (Leviticus 16:5). Both goats were to constitute a single sin offering, and were for different aspects of one and the same atonement. Both goats had been chosen by the congregation from among the most spotless sacrificial animals which were all types of Jesus Christ. And both goats had been ritually cleansed by washing before being present “before the LORD” at the doorway of the sanctuary. This could not be said of Satan. It is blasphemy to equate Satan with a sin offering as some Christian and Jewish authors have done!

“And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat.” (Leviticus 16:8). Either goat could have been chosen because both were equally qualified. This is not true of Satan. It is unfortunate that the Authorized Version (KJV) guessed and translated the obscure Hebrew word rather than leaving it un-translated. The RSV leaves it as Azazel. Many linguists prefer to interpret the term as merely “complete removal.”

Back to Lev. 16:21: The high priest with his unwashed blood-stained hands still fresh from the sacrificed goat, now puts his hands upon the live goat, and through the confession, transferred the sins of the nation to the goat as their substitute. As both goats were intended for a single sin-offering, the sins of the nation were confessed upon both.

Shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness. The guilt-laden animal was then entrusted to a man previously appointed. As both goats were intended for a sin-offering, the sins of the nation were confessed upon both. Sacrifice came first; then the removal of sin was symbolised by the sending away of the second goat. There is an evident reference to this sequence in the words ‘without shedding of blood there is no remission.’ The two goats represent Christ’s work; the one in its essence, the other in its effect. The complete removal of sin by the living goat was the proto-type of the New Covenant promise of Jeremiah 31:34 and Hebrews 8:12; 10:17. There are two precedents for allowing sin-offerings to live after they have participated in atonement.

In Leviticus 14:1-7 two clean birds were used to cleanse a leper and one of the birds was released alive.

Lev 14:49 “And he shall take to cleanse the house two birds, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop.”

Here again, two birds used for ONE offering of sin cleansing. Also in 14:49-53 two birds were taken to “cleanse” a house from mold or mildew.

Like the second goat, the second bird of Leviticus 14:49 was not sacrificed, yet they constituted one sin offering in spite of one being not killed. Its purpose was to point out that God does not remember sins after Calvary per Hebrews 8:12. None of these sin offerings represented Satan.

Adventists try to point that the type of atonement for the scapegoat is similar to when a blasphemer was stoned, the congregation first laid hands on him Lev. 24:14. There is no goat or sacrificial animal involved here. Adventist simply cannot see the precedent where two birds are used for one sin offering and one is released alive.


  • Two kids of the goats for a sin offering” (Leviticus 16:5).
  • The scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him” (Lev. 16:10)

The rite involving the scapegoat BEGAN when the congregation chose two equally qualified goats to present to God as ONE sin offering and not when the sanctuary was cleansed!

The Jews write, that this [live] goat was carried to the mountain called Azazel, whence the goat is so called, Leviticus 16:10; and that there he was cast down headlong; and that the red string by which he was led turned white when God was pleased with the Israelites, otherwise it remained red; and then they mourned all that year. And the ancient Hebrews write, that forty years before the destruction of the temple, which was about the time of Christ’s death, this red string turned no more white” (Mathew Poole)

Summary: The day of atonement ritual was a general, all-inclusive, general cleansing of ALL of the remaining un-atoned sins of Israel. It provided a new beginning for the new year. Unlike the heavenly sanctuary, the one on earth was surrounded by millions of sinners who regularly committed both presumptuous and ignorant sins. These sins un-atoned defiled the sanctuary. In Numbers 5:3, those who had been defiled by unavoidable and un-atonable uncleanness were forced to leave the camp “that they defile not their camps, in the midst whereof I dwell.” In Leviticus 15:31 God said, “Separate the children of Israel from their uncleanness; that they die not in their uncleanness, when they defile my tabernacle that is among them.” And Deuteronomy 23:44 adds “For the LORD thy God walks in the midst of thy camp.” Since only “sins of ignorance” were allowed to be atoned through daily blood sacrifices, these texts are not referring to those specific sins which had already been forgiven, cleansed and atoned. God does not require two different atonements for the same sins. Unlike the heavenly sanctuary, the earthly sanctuary required this cleansing because it was located in the “midst of,” in the middle of, a wicked and perverse nation. The presumptuous, pre-meditated un-confessed sins had not been daily confessed and had not been specifically atoned. The Day of Atonement was preceded by the “affliction of soul” (Lev. 23:27-34). The days leading up to it were final opportunities to recall non-presumptuous sins which had prevented full fellowship with God (1 Jn. 1:9). They were residual sins which had not been previously cleansed by sacrificial blood. 

Therefore, the sanctuary required cleansing not because (as SDAs teach) the priests had been transferring sin into the holy place, but simply because of its location on earth in the middle of a sinful people, and defilement caused by unatoned sin of the people. This end-of-the-year final cleansing is not a new idea. Barnes Notes; the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary; Keil and Delitzsch CommentaryMatthew Henry Commentary, and the New Unger’s Bible Dictionary all agree that the cleansing was for residual sins rather than a second cleansing of sins which had already been atoned by the daily sacrifices.

Unger’s Bible Dictionary says “..Many sins and defilements would still remain unacknowledged and therefore without expiation. This want was met by the appointment of a yearly, general, and perfect expiation of all the sins and uncleanness that had remained un-atoned for and un-cleaned in the course of the year (Lev. 16:33)” 

Nelson’s Bible Dictionary adds “The only fasting period required by the Law (Lev. 16:29; 23:31), the Day of Atonement was a recognition of man’s inability to make any atonement for his sins.”

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia adds “The atonement takes place for the sanctuary which has been defiled by the contamination of the Israelites.”

For honest and simple minded Adventist, we ask, where does Leviticus 16 intimate that the rituals of the Day of Atonement were related to sins that had already been forgiven and atoned for throughout the year? If sins of ignorance was confessed, was it forgiven and atoned for through the offering of a sin-sacrifice during the year, or was it not? Leviticus 4 says repeatedly it was forgiven and atoned for. If it was atoned for, as Leviticus 4 says it was, is there any evidence in Leviticus 16 that says otherwise? If it doesn’t say it, is it possible that the Day of Atonement had something to do, at least, with sins that couldn’t legally be ritually atoned for by means of the daily ritual?  If all these possibilities exist, and they most certainly do, what necessity is there of inventing the notion that the Day of Atonement took care of something that had already been taken care of, sort of sin revisited? Is that not heresy?

11. SDA’s blend sin with the blood of the Sacrifice

Ellen White says, “As anciently the sins of the people were by faith placed upon the sin-offering, and through its blood transferred, in figure, to the earthly sanctuary, so in the new covenant the sins of the repentant are by faith placed upon Christ, and transferred, in fact, to the heavenly sanctuary”.

Ellen White further says, “The sins of Israel being thus transferred to the sanctuary, the holy places were defiled{FLB 198.2}

Note that Ellen White clearly states that it is through the blood sins are transferred, and that blood defiles the sanctuary. However, there is no theological basis to blend sin (Leaven) with the blood of (His) the sacrifice.

“Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning” (Ex 34:25)

The priest was given specific instruction to not defile the sanctuary in any way:

And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name” (Leviticus 20:3)

If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are’. (1 Cor 3:17)

Wherefore, as I live, saith the Lord God; Surely, because thou hast defiled my sanctuary with all thy detestable things, and with all thine abominations, therefore will I also diminish thee; neither shall mine eye spare, neither will I have any pity” (Ezekiel 5:11)

“Only he shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries: for I the Lord do sanctify them” (Lev. 21:23)

Scriptures confirms that it was unconfessed sins that defiled the holy temple. However, if the SDA sanctuary doctrine is accurate, then consequently Aaron and the penitent sinner should or will be destroyed by God, because collectively they have defiled the sanctuary.

On the contrary, the Sanctuary is Holy and Sin and Holiness cannot co-exist in God’s Presence. The perception that sin and defilement has procured a place in the presence and divine glory of God, by any means, is alien to scripture and contrary to the gospel of our salvation. “NOTHING UNCLEAN” will enter heaven (Revelation 21:27) Instead, through the blood the sacrifice removed the iniquity by payment of death and was never transferred to the sanctuary.  By all reasoning if the second apartment of the sanctuary were to be defiled by sin how could it be called the “most holy place”?

Only the high priest was allowed access to the Holy and Most Holy Place in the temple, after he had meticulously followed the purification process of offering up sacrifices for his own sins and that of the people. The penitent sinner was left standing near the door of the tabernacle, which is, in itself, a witness to the fact that sin has no place in the presence of God. The process of purification found in the Lord Jesus Christ’s blood allows all sinners to come into the presence of God, free from guilt and shame, having their robes washed in his blood. For the Christian, their hope is anchored to Jesus Christ’s cleansing, purifying, holy and sinless blood which is the receipt of his atoning death, having paid in full our transgression of God’s holy law, as our divine saviour when He took our place on Calvary.

How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb 9:14)

12. The Priests eating flesh did not defile the Tabernacle

SDAs also teach that the sins of those who made confession, were taken into the tabernacle by the priest eating the flesh of the sacrifice in the first apartment. This also is contrary to scripture. The expression “holy place” very frequently refers to the court of the tabernacle. The priests were instructed to boil the flesh of certain offerings in the holy place (Ex. 29:31), and to wash their garments in the holy place (Lev. 6:27); also, to take a bath in the holy place (Lev. 6:26) and to pour out wine in the holy place (Num. 28:7). No Bible student will contend that the first apartment of the tabernacle or temple was used as a kitchen to boil meat, or as a laundry to wash clothes, or a bathroom in which to take a bath or to dump a flagon of wine; neither was it used as a dining room. The scriptures define plainly where they were to eat the flesh of the offering. Lev. 6:26, “The priest that offereth it for sin shall eat it: in the holy place shall it be eaten, in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation.”

EGW concluded by quoting only the last half of Leviticus 10:17: “‘God hath given it to you to bear the iniquity of the congregation.’ Both ceremonies alike [eating and/or sprinkling the sin offering] symbolized the transfer of the sin from the penitent to the sanctuary (Great Controversy p. 418).

The entire verse of Leviticus 10:17 is, “Wherefore have ye not eaten the sin offering in the holy place, seeing it is most holy, and God has given it to you to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the LORD?” In the context of the entire verse, the sin offering was “most holy.” EGW took words out of context and described bearing sin as bearing sin into the sanctuary to defile it, which the text does not say!

As soon as the Old Testament priest received the sin offering, that sin offering became most holy (Numb. 18:9). And merely touching the dead flesh of the sin offering also transferred more holiness to the priest (Lev. 6:27). Therefore, instead of transferring sin into the sanctuary via the priests (as SDAs teach), the most holy sacrifice actually transferred more HOLINESS to the priests and into the sanctuary! The holy priest was only allowed to touch, handle and work with holy things and most holy things! Contrary to what SDAs teach, the priest did not “transfer sin” into the sanctuary. Like Christ, he typically bore the GUILT (or punishment) of sin for the sinner. The priest was performing a sanctified and necessary act of reconciliation–not defilement. Shockingly, SDA theology teaches that Jesus Himself was, and still is, the greatest polluter of the heavenly sanctuary because he bore, and is still transferring sins into it.

Besides, SDAs are ignorant of the fact that the flesh had been fully bled. If atonement is in the blood (Lev. 17:11), what cultic import does the consumption of flesh carry? SDAs also skipped over the other passages (Lev. 6:29; 7:6; 10:12-15; 21:16-23; 22:11) that indicate that the flesh was not just consumed by the priest himself, but by his whole family, including women, children, males ineligible for the priesthood because of mutilation or castration, and even slaves? If a private citizen’s sin was somehow transferred to the sin-offering, how did it manage to defile the sanctuary if not one drop of its blood entered the holy place? And how could the consumption of its flesh by someone in the priest’s household, or by the priest himself, effect the transfer of sin to the sanctuary if the flesh didn’t carry the sin that, supposedly, was in the blood? In any case, which Bible passage teaches that someone’s sin can be transferred to a sin-offering? Which Bible passage teaches that sin-offerings, even those of a priest or the whole congregation, defile the sanctuary?

13. The New Testament does not teach that the Old Covenant sanctuary service provided a must-follow “pattern,” “example,” “copy” or “shadow” for Jesus’s ministration in heaven. In fact, in context, it teaches exactly the opposite! The book of Hebrews teaches that the Old Covenant sanctuary patterns ended at Calvary! It proves its point by contrasting Christ’s ministry which is much “better” in the heavenly sanctuary with that of the Old Covenant sanctuary. See the evidence given below.

14. A verse-by-verse study of Hebrews 8:13-9:28

When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is about to disappear (Hebrews 8:13)

When He said, “A new covenant” He has made the first obsolete. The use of the word “new” implies that the one which it was to supersede was “old.” The first covenant is now obsolete. The “Mosaic Covenant”, the “first covenant”, the “old covenant” has lost its authority and binding force; and so, by God’s instituting another, He has abrogated the “first covenant”.

But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is about to disappear. The very fact that it is obsolete and growing “old” is an indication that it will soon be gone. What did the first covenant contain? We should expect an answer from the following verses starting from chapter 9.

Now even the first covenant had regulations for divine worship and the earthly sanctuary (Hebrews 9:1)

Now even the first covenant had regulations for divine worship. The meaning here is the first covenant or old covenant, or former arrangement had religious laws, rites and services regulating the worship of God.

And the earthly sanctuary. The term “worldly,” applied to “sanctuary,” here means that it pertained to this world rather than to heaven. This earthly sanctuary was the blueprint God gave the Israelites because it pictured a greater reality in the heavenlies.

For a tabernacle was equipped, the outer sanctuary, in which were the lampstand, the table, and the sacred bread; this is called the Holy Place (Hebrews 9:2)

The outer sanctuary.  The first room on entering the sacred edifice is called the “outer sanctuary”. The apostle then proceeds to enumerate the various articles of furniture which were in this room. 

The lampstand. There was this lamp stand with seven branches out of it. It was lit. There were little cups of oil, and they would put the wicks in the oil and it was the light in this portion of the tent.

Table and the sacred bread. On the table were twelve loaves of bread.

This is called the Holy Place. The first room is called the Holy Place.  The author of Hebrews does not say that the candlestick, and the table of showbread, and the other furniture that follows were designed to adumbrate some particular truth or had a designed spiritual meaning. There are other passages in Scriptures that allude to their meaning which will not be elaborated here.

Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Most Holy Place (Hebrews 9:2)

This is the second room. This second veil divided the holy place from the most holy, as the first veil did the holy place from the courts. This represented the visible symbol of His presence.

Having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, Aaron’s staff which budded, and the tablets of the covenant (Hebrews 9:3)

Having a golden altar of incense. The Greek must not be translated as “altar of incense,” for it was not in “Most Holy” place “after the second veil,” but in “the holy place”; but as in 2 Chronicle 26:19, and Ezekiel 8:11, “censer”. This GOLDEN censer was only used on the day of atonement. Alternatively, the writer of Hebrews probably meant that at the veil, not the Most Holy place, had the altar of incense and the ark of the covenant connected with it (Hebrews 9:3; cf. 1 Kings 6:22).

The ark of the covenant. This is often called “the ark of the testimony,” i.e., the ark containing the tables of the Ten Commandments, which were the symbol of the covenant of God with Israel. (See Exodus 25:10-16.)

In which was a golden jar holding the manna, Aaron’s staff which budded. The golden pot holding the manna and Aaron’s rod that budded were not said in the Pentateuch to have been placed in the ark of the covenant; but no objection can be lodged against the statement in Hebrews to that effect, because such a keeping place would have been perfectly in line with God’s instructions that they were to be “laid up before the Lord” (Exodus 16:33), and “before the testimony” (Numbers 17:10). 

And the tablets of the covenant.  The stones on which the decalogue or ten commandments were written are called “the tables of the covenant” (Deut. 9:9), which were a handful of ten laws from the law of Moses, which outlined a handful of duties towards man and God, and this was placed inside the ark of the covenant. The author of Hebrews does not appear to go into all the details (Hebrews 9:4), but there was also the book in which the law was expanded and applied for the Jews (613 commandments including the ten) called “the book of the covenant” (Ex. 24:7), and this was placed by the side of the ark (Deut. 31:26) in the Most Holy place. The first or “Old Covenant” (now obsolete) included an earthly sanctuary, ceremonial aspects, and also the “tablets of the covenant”. It cannot be any clearer. Efforts to dissociate the tablets of that covenant from the annulment (obsolescence) that fell upon it fail in the light of such clear identification as this.

And above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the atoning cover; but about these things we cannot now speak in detail (Hebrews 9:4)

And above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the atoning cover. Above the ark of the covenant were glorious cherubim (plural). The atoning cover is translated elsewhere as the mercy seat. This was the ornate “lid” for the ark of the covenant, made with the designs of cherubim upon it. The blood of sacrifice was sprinkled upon it for the forgiveness of Israel’s sin on the Day of Atonement (Exodus 25:17-22). As God looked down into the ark, He saw the symbols of Israel’s sin, rebellion and failure. But when the blood of sacrifice was applied to the mercy seat, the blood of sacrifice had provided atonement for Israel’s sin.

About these things we cannot now speak in detail. The writer declined to speak of the tabernacle furnishings in more detail as we saw earlier (Hebrews 9:3) because his main purpose is not to give details of the first covenant and the earthly sanctuary but to contrast the two rituals and the two covenants.

Now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle, performing the divine worship (Hebrews 9:6)

Now when these things have been so prepared. The earthly sanctuary was prepared and set up exactly as how God wanted.

The priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle, performing the divine worship. So, the priests could go into the holy place (outer tabernacle), and they had various functions on a daily basis (continually). 

But into the second, only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance (Hebrews 9:7)

But into the second, only the high priest enters once a year. But only the high priest and only once a year was he allowed to go behind the veil (Most Holy place) and only with blood in order to make payment for sin.  This was a day of utter terror for the people of Israel as they stood and waited, wondering if the high priest would come out alive.  If he came out alive, it indicated that God had accepted the offering for another year.  

Not without taking blood which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people. The atoning blood was first for his own sins and then for the sins of his people.

Committed in ignorance.Sins of ignorance were the specific aim of the Day of Atonement. It is known that known sin would be taken care of (atoned, cleansed, forgiven) through regular sin offerings and the daily sacrifices. Sins of ignorance (unatoned) were the specific aim of the Day of Atonement.

The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, which is a symbol for the present time (Hebrews 9:8-9a)

The Holy Spirit is signifying this. The Holy Spirit is unveiling this.

The way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed. The way into the heavenly sanctuary or heaven itself was not revealed. 

While the outer tabernacle is still standing. When the earthly sanctuary is still standing and functioning according to God’s design in a way that’s pleasing to God, it indicates that the Messiah has not yet come. If the Messiah had come, then the purpose of the earthly tabernacle, the covenant and the temple would be fulfilled and completed. Then the way into the heavenly sanctuary would be unveiled. In other words, the continuing activities at the first (old) covenant tabernacle were “signifying” that the way into the entire heavenly sanctuary, was not yet ready until the Old Covenant ended. From God’s perspective these activities ended at Calvary (Mt 27:51; Mk 15:38; Lk 23:45). At His ascension Christ’s New Covenant ministry in the heavenly sanctuary began (Ps 110:1; Acts 2:33-34).

Which is a symbol for the present time. The things of the earthly sanctuary were a shadow, a picture, a temporary figure, it was for that present time only till the earthly sanctuary stood. Once the heavenly sanctuary is unveiled, the earthly pattern is abolished, and ought not to be revived. Again, the patterns given from heaven concerning the (old) covenant sanctuary were only “a figure for the time then present.” They were NOT “a figure for the future” as SDAs argue. They do not depict reality in heaven.

Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, since they relate only to food, drink, and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation. (Hebrews 9:9b-10)

Gifts and sacrifices. Thank-offerings and bloody offerings. All kinds of offerings to God were made there in the earthly sanctuary.

Cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience. That could not take away sin, and remove the stains of guilt. Since gifts and sacrifices were outward and ceremonial rites, and even when offerings were made for sin, the conscience was not relieved. And the fact that they had to do it every year made us constantly conscious of our guilt.

Since they relate only to food, drink, and various washings, regulations for thebody. Since under this old covenant system, food, drink, various washings, and regulations were limited to the outwardand external cleanliness,they could not change the consciences of the ones who participated in them.

Imposed until a time of reformation. The idea here is that those rites and ceremonies (old covenant) were only temporary in their nature and were designed to endure until a more perfect system should be introduced. That is until the new covenant.  “Until the time of reformation” refer to the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ (Gal 3:19). The Old Testament pattern of sanctuary service ended when the “time of reformation” arrived. SDAs part with the majority of Christians at Hebrews 9:9-10. The truth is that all of the patterns, examples and shadows given to Moses in the Law were only temporary blueprints of Old Covenant pre-Calvary reality!

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things having come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made by hands, that is, not of this creation (Hebrews 9:11)

But. But here stands for contrast with what happened in type. 

When Christ appeared as a high priest. Now that the Messiah has come as a High Priest. We cannot doubt that these words are contrasting between the true High Priest and the High priest on earth. Christ came as a High Priest from Judah after the king-priest rank of Melchizedek (Heb 7:11-18). He did not come as an Old Covenant Aaronic High priest from Levi who was required to follow the Law-patterns.

Of the good things having come. A more perfect system has been already introduced by which the conscience may be made free from guilt. Good things are now already here when Christ appeared as a High Priest.

He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle. He’s not entering the earthly tabernacle; He is entering the true tabernacle in the heavenlies.

Not made by hands, that is, not of this creation. The meaning is, that the place where he officiates is not made by human power but it is the ultimate presence of God. It’s the heaven itself.

And not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all time, having obtained eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12)

And not through the blood of goats and calves. Christ did not offer the blood of bulls and goats, that is bulls and goats offered on the day of atonement (Leviticus 16:3,11) which had no real power to make anyone clean—but would actually offer Himself.

But through His own blood. Christ would offer His own blood as payment for sin.

He entered the holy place [ta hagia] once for all time. The Greek word here is literally “holies.” The Septuagint uses it repeatedly in Leviticus 16 for the most holy place. The word itself can mean the sanctuary as a whole, or it can mean the first apartment, or it can mean the second apartment. You can prove nothing from the Greek, because it has these possibilities, but from the context it is obvious. It is speaking about a place that the high priest alone went once every year with the blood of bulls and goats. Here, Jesus entered the most holy place (heaven itself) once for all time. Having died “once for all” (Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 10:10) He was able to enter God’s presence “once for all.”

Since our high priest entered into heaven once for all, and has obtained not a yearly respite, but eternal redemption, he need not make an yearly entrance into the presence of God, or every 100 year entrance into the presence of God or an 1844 entrance into the presence of God. He entered once for all time into the heavenly sanctuary, heaven itself, the presence of God, in opposition to the annual entering of the high priest into the holiest of all, with the blood of the yearly victim. Note again. In the earthly type, daily and yearly sacrifices were made. Instead of following the type pattern by dying many times, Christ fulfills the type by having died “once for all”. In the earthly type, the priest entered the sanctuary many times (daily and yearly). Instead of following the type pattern by entering the sanctuary many times (daily and yearly), Christ fulfils the type by entering the heavenly sanctuary, heaven itself “once for all”.

Having obtained eternal redemption. As long as the ultimate High Priest lives, His payment for sin is valid, and because He is eternal, then His payment for sin is eternal—so the redemption that He provides is an eternal redemption.

Andre Reis, current SDA theologian writes: “The book of Hebrews explicitly negates the notion that Jesus has engaged in a two-phase ministry since his ascension, with the final phase to be commenced sometime in the future. Hebrews 6:19-20; 9:12, 25; 10:19 are full of verbal parallels drawn from the sanctuary ritual culminating with the yearly Day of Atonement to explain Jesus’s sacrifice and subsequent activities as the Heavenly high Priest” (source: ).

For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh (Hebrews 9:13)

For if the blood of goats and bulls. Referring to blood of sacrificial victims.

And the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled. The heifer was sacrificed, and the ashes were used to make people clean when they had become unclean.

Sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh. If these things are adequate to restore a man to ceremonial cleanness which was a type of moral purity.

How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14)

How much more will the blood of Christ. If the blood of an animal had any efficacy at all, even in removing ceremonial pollutions, how much more virtue must there be in the blood of Christ, to cleanse us from all sin?

Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God. Through his own eternal God-head, offered “himself” without blemish, meaning the great sacrifice was “perfect”.

Cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God. The weakness of the sacrifices, “akin to dead works” made by earthly priests is that they could not really give us a clear conscience to serve the living God. They were a reminder of our sins that God had not completely dealt with our sin. And the fact that they had to do it every year made us constantly conscious of our guilt. But Jesus Christ has now purified our consciences for having to not offer “dead works”, instead we have peace that our sins have been cleansed (forgiven, blotted out, cancelled) to serve the Living God under the new covenant.

 For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the violations that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance (Hebrews 9:15).

For this reason. Because all this is true that was said before this verse about Jesus and His once and for all sacrifice, and once and for all entrance into the Most Holy place, heaven itself.

He is the mediator of a new covenant.  It does not carry the idea that Jesus is somehow negotiating terms between a holy God and sinful people.  It rather carries the idea of this layer between a holy God and sinful people.There was this clear understanding that the presence of God dwelt in the Holy of Holies, and that could only be accessed by the high priest, and only once a year.  So, the people were very clear that there was this layer, this mediation layer (sanctuary, sacrifices, High priest system) between them and a holy God in the Old Covenant. So, Christ is now the mediator of a new constitution between God and the whole human race, distinguished here from the old covenant between God and the Israelites.

Since a death has taken place for the redemption of the violations that were committed under the first covenant. Because of Jesus, this long-awaited redemption and atonement for transgression has already taken place for those under the old covenant or first covenant, as those sins could not be really atoned from the blood of bulls and goats.

Because of its repetition, the old covenant ministry could not convince the worshipper that his/her confessed sin had actually been cancelled and “cleansed” (Heb 10:1-11).  Their conscience was not clean. However, that blemish is not carried over into the New Covenant. Christ has already redeemed every daily sin and every Day of Atonement residual sin confessed in the Old Testament (and also the New Testament). This makes Ellen White’s often repeated “The blood of Christ..was not to cancel sin” nonsense.

Those who have been called. All people under the old and New covenant who are called to be his children.

May receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. This knowledge of receiving the promise of eternal inheritance is a present reality for the believer and not a fact that needs to be determined based on a future investigation (1844) as SDAs teach.

For where there is a covenant, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. For a covenant is valid only when people are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives.  (Hebrews 9:16-17)

Covenant used here is like what we would say a last “will” or a testament. When somebody creates a will, that will may be full of promises, but those promises do not have legal force. They are not fulfilled or acted upon until that person dies.

Therefore even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood (Hebrews 9:18)

The first covenant had to be initiated, inaugurated, dedicated, sanctioned, consecrated, with the blood of animal. We should expect to hear how the new covenant is inaugurated as well very soon as the author is contrasting the old and new.

For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.” (Hebrews 9:19-20)

For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law. That included all the law including the ten commandments.

He took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop. Blood of “the sacrificial victims”, and “water and scarlet wool and hyssop” used for purification is what is meant here.

Sprinkled both the book itself and all the people. In Exodus 24:8 no mention is made of the sprinkling of the book, only of the people. Sprinkling upon the altar, upon which the book of the covenant might lie is probably meant.      

This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you. This is the blood by which the covenant is ratified. 

And in the same way he sprinkled both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry with the blood (Hebrews 9:21)

He sprinkled both the tabernacle. Probably not at the same time that he sprinkled the book and the people, for then there was no tabernacle; but afterwards, at the time that it was set up.

All the vessels of the ministry with the blood. All the furniture employed in the service of God. The altar, the laver, the censers, dishes, bowls, etc (Exodus 40:10-11).

And almost all things are cleansed with blood, according to the Law, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22)

And almost all things are cleansed with blood. For some things were purified by fire and water (Numbers 31:22-23), but almost all things are cleansed with blood. Cleansed (katharizō) implies not only purification from sin, but also dedication or consecration like when Moses sprinkled with blood both the “book”, and “tabernacle” and “all the vessels” to consecrate them, and to inaugurate them, to initiate the earthly sanctuary service. After all, there was no sin in the “book” or “vessels” to purify from blood. 

Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. The bottom line is there is no salvation but through the sacrificial death of Christ, and to prefigure this, the law itself would not grant any remission of sin without the blood of a victim.

Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these things, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these (Hebrews 9:23) 

Therefore. “Therefore,” is given based on everything mentioned in the previous seven verses concerning the shedding of the blood of the covenant-victim and the purification or dedication of the things associated with the tabernacle, people, its implements, and its rites. If the earthly tabernacle was dedicated in type by blood, we can expect something to be said about the heavenly things themselves in the following words.

It was necessary. According to the appointment of God, it was necessary. There was no other way.

For the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these things. It is the heavenly which is the pattern, and it is the earthly which is a copy.  These “copies of the things in the heavens,” meaning the earthly tabernacle, people and associated implements, “should be cleansed (katharizō) with these things.” The word “these” is speaking of the blood of dedication obtained from the covenant-victims. It was necessary for the earthly sanctuary to be initiated, inaugurated, cleansed, consecrated with blood of sacrificial victims.

But the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. However, to inaugurate and initiate the heavenly things themselves, where the ultimate presence of God is, it required better sacrifices than the blood of animals.In the actual presence of God, to actually make payment for sin, what would be required would be more than that! It would take something more than merely the blood of bulls and goats.  It would take the long-awaited death of the Messiah. Therefore, this verse is teaching that the Old Covenant inauguration needed to be fulfilled by a better inauguration sacrifice in order to bring in a New Covenant.

Moreover, under the Old Covenant, the author has already said that all things were sprinkled with blood in order to purify them, including “both the book itself and all the people” (Hebrews 9:19). As we are the purpose of Christ’s coming, meaning the redemption of man, then it is necessary that the people be purified by Christ’s shed blood. Hence, the heavenly things required not only the perfect sacrifice to inaugurate the new covenant, but also Christ presented Himself before the Father to purify or cleanse those things which will be accepted into His eternal realm. That is all His people, who are being built into “a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22). When did this happen? From the resurrection of Christ, not in 1844.

Hence, the “cleansing of the sanctuary” is not about removing sin from the sanctuary per the old covenant pattern. Because “Nothing unclean” can enter heaven (Revelation 21:27). Hence, this verse is not speaking of cleansing heaven from defilement of sin or anything unclean that entered heaven. Rather it is about a new pattern which cleanses the believer [the temple of the living God] with the sinless blood of Christ (which happened when Christ inaugurated the heavenly sanctuary, not in 1844).

There is not a single Bible verse anywhere in the Old or New Testament that says that confessed sins are transferred into the heavenly sanctuary and then defile the sanctuary in any way.

For Christ did not enter a holy place made by hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us (Hebrews 9:24)

For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands. So Jesus did not come to be assimilated into the old covenant tabernacle or the temple like a Jewish high priest.  Jesus would not simply go into the tabernacle and go through the routine of the Levitical Priestly system. That’s what a high priest would do who entered into a sanctuary made by hands.

A mere copy of the true one.The earthly sanctuary was just a picture of the true one, not the exact thing, and was so formed as in some sense to correspond to it.

But into heaven itself. For the sanctuary into which Christ entered is not a copy or a token of the things in the heavens, but heaven itself. Since Christ is the veil (Heb 10:20), there are no separate “rooms” in God’s dwelling place. No sane person would quote this text to prove that God lives in a 2-room house in heaven.

Now to appear in the presence of God for us. We cannot doubt that these words continue the contrast between the true High Priest and the high priest on earth. As the Jewish high priest appeared before the shekinah, the symbol of the divine presence in the most holy, so Christ appears before God himself in our behalf in heaven itself at the ascension. The “presence of God” means exactly what it literally says. Contrary to the Old Covenant pattern, God’s throne room in Revelation contains a rainbow, 24 elders, 7 Spirit-lamps of fire before the throne, a sea of glass and 4 creatures surrounding the throne — all in contrast with the Old covenant patterns (Rev 4:2-8). The 1844 theology of two rooms or two phases is pure nonsense and cultic (Heb 9:24).

Nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year by year with blood that is not his own (Hebrews 9:25) 

As the high priest enters the Holy Place year by year with blood that is not his own. Again, this is talking about the once-a-year entrance of the Jewish High Priest into the most holy place. The earthly high priest had to offer sacrifices often to enter the Most holy place, but Jesus does not have to offer himself often to enter (not the holy place but into) the most holy place. That is the whole point this verse and the next verse is showing.The sacrifice of Christ is not like that of the Jewish high priest, which must be offered every year to enter the Most holy place. If Christ sacrifice is like bulls and goats, then he would have to suffer often.

Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been revealed to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself (Hebrews 9:26) 

Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often. But Jesus wasn’t going to offer Himself year after year after year (he offered once and for all). Otherwise, He would have to die every year since the foundation of the world. If Christ had not ended the patterns, then he must repeat them! If Christ did not end the daily sacrifices, then he must still die daily. If Christ did not end the yearly sacrifices (Day of Atonement), then he must still die yearly. Because he offered once and for all, He entered the most Holy place. Notice again..

But now. “Now” refers to the first century, it is a reality when the apostle is writing these words. “Now” the Old Covenant sanctuary had already been replaced by “heaven itself.” The Aaronic priesthood had already been replaced with the non-Hebrew Melchizedek priesthood (Heb. 7:11-18). The everyday shadow rituals of the literal altar of burnt offering, the water laver, the loaves, the candlestick, and the altar of incense had all ended in the reality of Christ. Christ does not have to offer often as the High priest. Therefore.

Once. Once for all; once in the sense that it is not to be repeated again.

At the consummation of the ages. This is referring to the days of Christ’s ministry on earth called the last days (Hebrews 1:2), the end of the ages (1 Corinthians 10:11), the fulness of the time (Galatians 4:4), when Christ appeared at His first coming.  This is saying it was time for the old covenant to be fulfilled, to usher in a new age, a new covenant through Christ our High Priest. 

While SDAs proclaim 1844 as the heavenly Day of Atonement and as a last day event warning about the nearness of the end of the age, they ignore 9:26b which clearly places the event at the “now” of Calvary. This same “end of the age,” “fullness of time” and “these last days” application of Calvary is also found in Acts 2:17; 1 Corinthians 10:11; Galatians 4:4; Ephesians 1:10; Hebrews 1:2 and First Peter 1:20 — and none of these refer to 1844.

New Covenant believers need to stop thinking about the New Covenant using Old Covenant terminology. “Christ is not” in a tiny building in heaven that has compartments like that of the Old Covenant. “Christ is not.” Again, He “is not.” He is “in heaven itself.” Since the first century He is “now” already in the “presence of God for us” –- in the Most Holy since his ascension to the right hand of God.

He has been revealed. He revealed himself as God in flesh at His first coming.

To put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. That’s a legal term. It means to render sin void.  Literally for the “the annulment of sin”. How? By the sacrifice of Himself. Hebrews 9:25-26 clearly tells everybody (except SDAs) that “now” Christ “cleansed” all of the heavenly things, not in 1844, but at His death, ascension and enthronement, and is now in the very presence of God. No body can have a clear conscience under the SDA doctrine of investigative judgement, or pre-advent judgement, because like the Old Covenant sanctuary pattern, sins have not been completely dealt with. On the contrary, Jesus has appeared to put away sin “now”, not in 1844. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John `:9). “The one who believes in Him is not judged; the one who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:18)

And just as it is destined for people to die once, and after this comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27)

Destined for people to die once. Just as certainly as we die once.

After this comes judgment. Every single person will die, and you will stand face to face with a holy God and give an account whether we accepted Christ’s perfect sacrifice or not (this is the final judgement or white throne judgement (Rev. 20:12). If there was an investigative judgement going on now to determine who will receive the eternal inheritance, the author would have said “Just as it is destined for people to die once, and before this comes judgement”. No! Those who disobey the gospel are judged already (John 5:24). According to the Scriptures, God doesn’t require any further judgement to decide who are his children before we die. After we die, we will face the final judgement. In that moment, do you really think it will be adequate to say, “I was very religious; I did some rituals; I did some activities; I did some good works?”  Do you really think that’s going to cut it in that moment?  What the writer of Hebrews is saying is that has never been the basis of salvation. From Genesis three on, there has always been a message that someone will have to die. The consequence of sin is death.  Someone had to die our death for God to grant us forgiveness.  

So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him (Hebrews 9:28)

So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many. Just as certainly as we die once and then face judgment, so Jesus only had to die once (not repeatedly, not continually) to bear our sins.

Will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin.That is, when be comes again he will not make himself a sin-offering; or will not come in order to make atonement for sin.Rather to usher them to the salvation of the new heaven and the new earth.

All the Biblical evidence points to Christ fulfilling the symbology of the Day of Atonement when He died on the cross and then ascended into heaven:

  1. Christ came as a High Priest to His temple (Heb. 9:11).
  2. He entered by His own blood (Heb. 9:12).
  3. He purified the heavenly copies with His blood (Heb. 9:23).
  4. He appeared in the Most Holy Place before the presence of God (Heb. 9:24).
  5. His blood cleansed His people from their sin (Heb. 9:14).
  6. The atonement is a finished work and Christ “sat down on the right hand of God” (Heb. 10:12)

By His sacrificial death and ascension into the heavenly sanctuary Christ fulfilled every one of the aspects of the Day of Atonement as described in Leviticus 16! His work of atonement is complete and finished “for ever”, and to symbolize the completeness of His task, Hebrews says that Christ “sat down on the right hand of God.” It is finished!

The idea that confessed sins are transferred to the heavenly sanctuary and are defiling it is not found anywhere in the Bible or the passage of Daniel 8. Look at what various Seventh-day Adventist scholars have written regarding this problem:

C.L. Price: “What has defiled the sanctuary and made necessary its ‘cleansing’ is its defilement by the little horn. Confessed sins are not referred to at all; that is an alien thought, wholly brought in by the Adventist writers themselves.”  Source: C. L. Price, “Should a Question be Answered? A Study of Daniel 8:14 in New Light on Old Problems (1973).

Dr. Raymond Cottrell: “Coming again to the Book of Daniel I determined to try once more to find a way to be absolutely faithful to both Daniel and the traditional Adventist interpretation of 8:14, but again found it impossible. I then formulated six questions regarding the Hebrew text of the passage and its context, which I submitted to every college teacher versed in Hebrew and every head of the religion department in all of our North American colleges—all personal friends of mine. Without exception they replied that there is no linguistic or contextual basis for the traditional Adventist interpretation of Daniel 8:14.” (Raymond F. Cottrell, The “Sanctuary Doctrine” ? Asset or Liability?)

Andre Reis, another SDA theologian writes: “The book of Hebrews explicitly negates the notion that Jesus has engaged in a two-phase ministry since his ascension, with the final phase to be commenced sometime in the future. Hebrews 6:19-20; 9:12, 25; 10:19 are full of verbal parallels drawn from the sanctuary ritual culminating with the yearly Day of Atonement to explain Jesus’s sacrifice and subsequent activities as the Heavenly high Priest. For the author, Jesus went “within the veil” in the same manner that the High Priest used to go “within the veil” on Yom Kippur. The expression in Greek is the same used in Lev 16. Jesus went “within the veil,” “with his blood,” “once and for all.” This occurred when he ascended to the Father

“The bias for interpretative tradition in regards to 1844 is illustrated by an interesting episode I witnessed not long ago. I recently visited a certain Adventist seminary and stumbled upon a class on Hebrews. The teacher was a prominent author of DARCOM and the subject was the “inauguration” of the heavenly sanctuary which the teacher used to justify the fact that, although Hebrews 6 undeniably places Jesus inside the Most Holy Place at his ascension, this entering in the Most Holy Place was merely to “inaugurate” it. In other words, Jesus entered the Most Holy Place at the ascension, inaugurated it, left it and then went in again 1844.

I was disturbed to see that he was presenting views that had been debunked by another Adventist scholar in an exchange they had in one of our printed magazines. Never did he mention his dialogue with the other scholar. I raised my hand and asked him where in the OT do we see blood going into the Most Holy Place in any of the OT inauguration passages. By his reaction, I suspected he knew that there is no such OT passage. He hesitated for a second and then appealed to the book of Hebrews. In other words, the book of Hebrews proves that in the same book Hebrews Jesus inaugurated the sanctuary with blood, even though none of the OT passages mention blood within the sanctuary, let alone the Most Holy Place. I didn’t press the issue and I doubt his students understood the implications of my question. The fallacy of the argument is disappointing, if not dishonest.

This encounter shows me that, at the end of the day, the viability of 1844 as a prophetic marker continues to depend heavily on isolated proof-texts. It seems Adventist scholars who defend 1844 as an unmovable rock are satisfied with finding tiny hooks in a few chosen verses that appear to (albeit remotely) support our position. That is no longer an acceptable way to construct theology”. (Source: )

15. Does Acts 3:19-21 teach a future blotting out?

Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;

Repent ye therefore.  As he did in his first sermon (Acts 2:38), Peter called upon the crowd to repent. He told them to turn around in their thinking and actions.

Be converted.  Peter knew the necessity of conversion, of God’s work of bringing new life to us. Being a Christian is not “turning over a new leaf,” it is being a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). Be converted is better translated, “turn to God”. The turning to God is the consequence of the change of mind (repentance).

That your sins may be blotted out.This was the first benefit of repentance Peter presented to them. The one who repents and is converted is forgiven their sins, and the record itself is erased. Blotted out has the idea of wiping ink off of a document.  Peter said that God would wipe away our record of sin just like that. The blotting out of the sins of penitents, immediately follow repentance and conversion.

When the times of refreshing shall come. The word hopōs incorrectly and unfortunately rendered “when,” in the KJV only in this instance, but it is always rendered “that” elsewhere in the KJV in every other instance (see here). The Greek conjunction never has the force of “when.”It is rendered “that” in NKJV, NASB, ESV, YLT etc.  Hence, it should be read, not when but “that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord”. This was the second benefit of repenting and turning to God. The word for “refreshing” is not found elsewhere in the New Testament, but the cognate verb meets us in 2 Timothy 1:16: “The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain”. The word rendered “refreshing,” anapsuxis, denotes “any kind of refreshment, as rest, or deliverance from evils of any kind.” It is the times of refreshing grace, rest, peace that results from repenting and turning to God. Both the blotting out of the sins of penitents, and divine refreshment immediately follow the acts of repentance.

From the presence of the Lord. The Greek can be translated literally as “From the face of the Lord.” The expression means that God was “its author.”Refreshing grace comes from the Lord Himself for those that repent and turn to God because their sins were blotted out.  SDA’s use acts 3:19 to teach a future blotting out of sins at the investigative judgement. The Greek of Acts 3:19 however does not substantiate their teaching that the blotting out of sins will take place as a separate, future event. Both the Old and the New Testament presents blotting out as a past event upon repentance: “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee” (Isaiah 44:22). “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). The seasons of refreshing from the Holy Spirit’s presence is an immediate and frequent blessing to every Christian, and not a future event associated only with the coming of the Lord. One who has never experienced a “season of refreshing from the Lord” and is putting it off till the Master comes, knows little of the joy of the Christian life.

And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you (Acts 3:20)

And he shall send Jesus Christ.The Lord is not slack concerning his promise [of Jesus’ coming], as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. This, therefore, was an argument why people should repent and turn to God, so that they might be ready when Christ comes and escape the day of judgment.

Which before was preached unto you.The arrival of the Messiah was proclaimed to you. 

Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began (Acts 3:21)

Whom the heaven must receive. The meaning of the expression “whom the heavens must receive,” is that it was fit or proper that Jesus Christ should ascend to heaven and will remain in heaven until…

Until the times of restitution of all things. Better translated as restoration of all things, i.e. at Christ’s second coming. Times of restoration of all things will happen when Christ comes the second time. Until then, until the times of restoration, Christ will remain in heaven.

Which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. Restoring all things, the consummation of God’s literal kingdom have been revealed, and are recorded in the Old Testament.

See our Revelation Commentary here

Obedience flows from Jesus’ New Exodus


The most fundamental problem with Adventist – and for that matter, a part of visible Christianity — is that it is insensitive to the fact that Jesus accomplished a New Exodus on behalf of his people.  Adventism focuses on the old exodus that separated Israel to the Lord.  It skips over the fact that the Ten Commandments are founded upon a specific historical event: the Red Sea exodus – “I am the Lord who brought you out of Egypt” (Ex.20:1).  This act of redemption was a type and shadow of a future exodus that the Messiah would accomplish for his people.  It was never intended to be an end in itself.  Just as the exodus out of Egypt brought with it 613 commands of which the ten commandments were just a handful of ten laws), so the exodus Jesus completed at Golgotha brought with it a New Covenant way of life for the church, flowing out of the commandment to love one another as Christ loved us.
The old covenant at a certain point in history was “in force.” (Heb.7:11). But this first covenant came to an end when the Temple veil was “torn in half” and Christ’s work was “finished” (Mt.27:51; Jn.19:30; Heb.8:13). Heb.8:6 indicates that the New Covenant was put into effect as that which is legally in force, and will continue on as the blood of the everlasting covenant (Heb.13:20).  
The New Exodus
In Luke 9:28-36 we find Moses and Elijah speaking with the glorified Christ.  What are they talking about?  They “spoke of His exodus [or, departure] that he would accomplish in Jerusalem” (Luke 9:31).  The New Exodus is the springboard for Christian obedience, as the old exodus was the foundation for Israel’s obedience.
Just as Israel in the Old Testament was constantly called to think back to the Red Sea exodus that liberated them from Egypt, so the church in the New Testament is repeatedly referred to the New Exodus at Golgotha. Especially in the Lord’s Supper believers “remember”  — not the Sabbath – but what Christ did on the cross. 
Israel’s covenant obedience was to be in response to God’s gracious act of mercy to them as they went through the Red Sea on dry ground.  The church’s obedience is to flow out of what Christ has done in sealing the New Covenant with his blood.  The New Exodus/New Covenant, not the old exodus/old covenant, has been put into place by the Lord as the starting point for the body of Christ (Heb.8:6).
“Listen to the Son”
Therefore, to ask, “have we been released from keeping the Ten Commandments?” is to speak as if moral duty can only be found in connection with Israel’s exodus out of Egypt.  But the Christian responds to the moral imperatives flowing of out the New Exodus.  Jesus, not an exodus out of Egypt, is now the starting point. 
Remember, Adventist claims that the Ten Commandments are “the only definition of sin in the Bible” (Refer to their literature and official writings).  This is false teaching.  Under the New Covenant, Paul says, “whatever is not done in faith is sin” (Rom.14:23).  For people “in Christ” sin takes on  a much broader and deeper significance than just the violation of a moral code.  Paul taught that if our eating of something draws a weaker brother or sister to eat a food that they cannot eat in good conscience, we grievously sin against that person and against Christ (1 Cor.8:9-13).  The Ten Commandments are not sufficient to define “sin” under Christ’s leadership of the body of Christ.
Marriage As A Type of Christ and His Bride
Let’s consider “sin” in relationship to marriage.  If the Ten Commandments “are the only definition of sin in the Bible,” then we would find the adultery command as our benchmark for marriage.  Is it sufficient to think of “sin” with reference to marriage only in terms of this command?  Of course not.  Years ago, I read an article on the seventh command in an Adventist Magazine.  The author said many good things, but something was missing.  There was nothing in the piece about how marriage was intended by the Lord to be a picture and reflection of Christ the groom and the church as his bride.  It did not portray “unfaithfulness” as a contradiction of Christ’s unfailing commitment to his bride.  The article was command-centered, not Christ-centered.  The supreme reference point for the Christian husband is the New Exodus – “husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her” (Eph.5:25).  “Forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you“ (Eph 4:32). “Sin” under the New Covenant goes far beyond anything that was written on stone tablets. 
Under the New Covenant we must always ask ourselves regarding any issue – “What is the truth as it is in Jesus?”
Going back to the Transfiguration in Luke 9, we see that the Shekinah glory enveloped them, Moses (the Law) and Elijah (the Prophets) disappeared, the Father’s voice speaks from the cloud – “This is my beloved Son, Hear him” – and the disciples look up and see Jesus only.  In Deut.18 Moses had told of a person like him who would come as the final Prophet with words which must be heeded.  In Heb.1:1-2 we are told that God spoke in the past in various ways, but in these last days has spoken definitively in the Son.
Love your neighbor vs. Love one another as Jesus love you
The Mosaic command from Leviticus required “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18). There was room for hating your enemy. Jesus went on to say, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I [Jesus] say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43-45). Jesus’ new commandment is based, not on a mere demand to love, but now on a love for one another that was first demonstrated by Jesus’ love for us. The old says love your neighbor (Leviticus 19:18); the new says to love one another. The old says love your neighbor as yourself; the new says to love one another as Jesus loved us (John 13:34).
The Son and the Sabbath
Thus, the real question is – since the New Covenant alone is in force – what does the Son teach us in the New Testament Scriptures about the Ten Commandments?  The answer is that all are dealt with forthrightly.  Nine appear as moral duties, and the Sabbath is seen as a ceremonial law – a type and shadow – with Christ as the fulfilling reality (Col. 2:16-17). 
Matthew 12:5
The ceremonial nature of the fourth commandment is demonstrated in Mark 2:23-28 and Matthew 12:1-9.  Sabbatarians alludes to Mark 2:27-28, but never deals with the two incidents Jesus cited when the Pharisees murmured about their picking of grain on the Sabbath.  The first example Jesus cited was David and his friends who technically “sinned” by eating the consecrated bread, which was only to be eaten by the priests (Mt.12:3-4; Mk.2:25-26).  The second case is very revealing.  Jesus said, “or have you not read in the law how that on the Sabbath days the priests in the Temple broke the Sabbath and yet were without guilt?”  According to Moses the priests broke the Sabbath every week by doing their “work,” yet they were without sin in this matter.  Now, if the Sabbath is a moral command like stealing or adultery, how could it be violated without guilt and condemnation associated?  Can one think of any circumstances where any of the other nine commandments and the numerous moral commandments in the Old Covenant could be transgressed without sin being committed? Doesn’t Matthew 12:5 show conclusively that the Sabbath is “different” from the other nine?  The priests worked on every Sabbath and did so without sinning. Interestingly, in the new covenant, Christians are the priests of God (1 Peter 2:9), and how would Jesus respond to those who accuse the new covenant priesthood for breaking the Sabbath assuming the Sabbath law is in force in the new covenant? Not guilty! 
Martin Luther, the great reformer taught the validity of the moral law of the old covenant but saw the Sabbath as ceremonial. “Scripture has abrogated the Sabbath day; for it teaches that since the gospel has been revealed, all the ceremonies of the old law can be omitted” (Article 28, The Augsburg Confession(1530).  
Mark 2:27, 28
Christ’s statement, “the Sabbath was made for man and not man [made] for the Sabbath,” plainly reveals the ceremonial nature of the Sabbath. Adventists only read, “the Sabbath was made for man”. They need to digest the rest of the verse. Sabbath was made to serve man, and man was not made to serve the Sabbath. Therefore man is above the Sabbath law. When, or under what circumstances, can man lawfully commit adultery or steal? Obviously, never! Man’s life is not above God’s holy and moral laws. Yet even a sheep’s life is more important than the enforcement of the sabbath (Matthew 12:10-12). Yet even circumcision is more important than observing the Sabbath. John 7:21-23 “Jesus said to them, …Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath?”. “The Sabbath was made for man and not man [made] for the Sabbath”. Moral law was not made for man, but it was eternal. Man was made to serve the eternal moral law. We are “servant of righteousness” (Romans 6:15-23), but we were not made to serve the Sabbath or circumcision or other rituals. It’s in light of these texts that Adventists teach a cultic Mark of the Beast for Sunday worship.
Adventists assume that the Sabbath was made for all mankind, but the text in Mark 2:27 doesn’t say that. It doesn’t say, “The Sabbath was made for “mankind”, it says, “the Sabbath was made for man”. When the Scripture is meant to be inclusive of all mankind it is clear. See Matthew 28:19; John 3:16; Acts 2:17; I Timothy 2:4; Titus 2:11. These verses clearly indicate that when God offers something to all mankind He clearly offers it to all. Numbers 9:10 reads, “If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the passover unto the LORD”. Did God give the Passover to all mankind because the text says “man“? 
Col. 2:16-17
Regarding Col.2:16-17, Adventists assume that it does not include the weekly Sabbath embedded in the fourth commandment, but only refers to “special annual Sabbath days” which were ceremonial. This opinion reflects the Sabbatarian assumptions, for it is inconceivable that the Jewish mind would make such distinctions.  The following Old Testament Scriptures speak of festival days, new moons and Sabbaths.  There can be no doubt that in these examples the weekly Sabbath is included in the word “Sabbaths”: Ex.31:13; Lev.26:2,34-35; 2 Ki.4:23; 2 Chron.36:21; Isa.1:13, 56:4, 66:23; Lam.2:6; Ezek.20:12,13,16,20,21,24; 22:8; 44:24; 46:1; Amos 8:5.  Hosea 2:11 says “I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, her Sabbaths.”  There is every reason to believe that in Col.2:16-17 Paul is teaching the Christian community that the Jewish weekly Sabbath is ceremonial and is no longer a norm for judgment. This is supported by Leviticus 23 which identifies the weekly Sabbath with one of God’s feasts.
Further, in Col.2:16, when Paul says, ‘do not let anybody judge you…with reference to a feast or a new moon or Sabbaths,” there is a specific chronological progression from yearly to monthly to weekly.  The festivals were yearly, the new moons were monthly, and the Sabbaths were weekly.  To suggest that “Sabbaths” refer only to “annual Sabbath days” would break up Paul’s clear Jewish division of time. That’s why the SDA scholar Samuel Bacchiochi had to eventually agree that Col 2 does refer to the weekly Sabbath.
To Whom Was the Sabbath Given?
Sabbatarians suggests that Abraham and other Gentiles who lived long before the Law was given kept the Sabbath.  That is a huge assumption.  In terms of explicit statements of Scripture, it is never said that anyone kept the Sabbath before the Red Sea exodus.  There are, however, several Scriptures that affirm that the Sabbath was indeed given to Israel alone.  Deut.5:15 – “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.Therefore keep the Sabbath day.”  Neh.9:13 – “You came down also upon Mt. Sinai…and made known to them the holy Sabbath.”  Ezek.20:12 – “Moreover, also I gave them my Sabbaths to be a sign between me and them.” How can a sign that distinguished the Jews from the the rest of the world be also a sign that identifies with all nations?
The New Covenant Scriptures teach that the Sabbath was a shadow, and that Christ is the reality (Col.2:17).  If a type and shadow is fulfilled in a person, why would you continue to focus on the shadow?  Lambs were slaughtered under the old covenant.  Once the fulfillment, Jesus, came and offered himself, why would we keep on killing animals?  Once the reality comes, the type/shadow is discontinued.
God’s rest is not the weekly Sabbath day rest in Genesis
Adventists assume that God ordained a weekly Sabbath day in Genesis, but there is absolutely no “thus saith the Lord” command for man to observe a weekly rest day. Neither is there any restrictions on how to observe a day in Genesis and neither is there a condemnation for not observing a day, and neither is there an example of man observing a Sabbath day. Adventists are free to observe any day, but why enforce a law that God doesn’t command mankind to observe or condemn man for non-observance? Yes, God rested on the seventh day. But what type of rest does this seventh day offer? The first six days had “work” that was demarcated by an “evening and morning”, but the seventh day “rest” did not have a demarcation of “evening and morning”. The rest was open for the people of God to enter from the seventh day onward, and even today “a promise remains of entering His rest” (Hebrews 4:1). What is the requirement to enter God’s rest? “For we who have believed enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:3). The  Jewish weekly Sabbath day was entered not through belief but through ceasing from labor, but God’s rest is entered through belief! Even Jews did not enter God’s rest even when they had the weekly Sabbath.  “For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: “AND GOD RESTED ON THE SEVENTH DAY FROM ALL HIS WORKS”; and again in this passage, “THEY [Israel] SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.” (Hebrews 4-5). 
When God rested is not on day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6—each one of those days ends with, “There was morning and there was evening.”  But on the seventh day, when God rested, you don’t read those words because the rest of God was not a day of the week.  It was not one day of the week.  It was a state.  God had now completed the work; it was a state of rest. How do we know? Because God did not restart a “work for six days and rest on the seventh” cycle. He rested from His creative work on the seventh day. He rested from His creative work on the 8th day, the 9th day, the 100th day, and He is still resting from His creative work today, so we can enter His rest today. We are not commanded to enter a labor and rest cycle in Genesis. We enter His rest today! Hebrews says, “He [God] again fixes a certain day, (what day? Seventh day? No) “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS.” For if Joshua had given them [God’s] rest, He (God) would not have spoken of another day [which is today] after that” (Hebrews 4:7-8) 
Early Christian fathers some of whom learned from the mouth of the apostles clearly saw what God’s Word said about a Sabbath day in Genesis.
Justin Martyr, who wrote only 44 years after the death of St. John, and who was well acquainted with the doctrine of the apostles, denied that the Sabbath originated at creation. Thus after name Adam, Abel, Enoch, Lot and Melchizedek, he says: “Moreover, all those righteous men already mentioned, though they kept no Sabbaths, were pleasing to God.”Dialogue with Trypho, chapter 19.
Eusebius, A.D. 324, the father of church history, says: “They (the patriarchs) did not, therefore, regard circumcision, nor observe the Sabbath, nor do we.” Eccl. Hist., book 1, chapter 4.
Later Christians came to the same conclusion:
John Bunyan says: “Now as to the imposing of the seventh day Sabbath upon men from Adam to Moses, of that we find nothing in holy writ, either from precept or example.” Complete Works, page 892.
Abraham kept the Sabbath?
Adventists assume that Abraham kept the Sabbath, for God said:  “Abraham kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws”  (Gen.  26:5).  But Adventists could just as well assume that Abraham was baptized and observed the Lord’s supper, for both of these are commandments of God.  Adventists assumes that “my commandments”, “my law” always means the Ten Commandments. In Ex 16, “my laws” includes the law about manna. “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not”. Lev 23:28-31 shows “my commandments” includes sacrificial laws: “And whether it be cow or ewe, ye shall not kill it and her young both in one day. On the same day it shall be eaten up; ye shall leave none of it until the morrow: I am the LORD. Therefore shall ye keep my commandments, and do them: I am the LORD”
My laws, My commandments do not mean it includes the Ten or the Sabbath. Abraham was commended for obeying particular commands God gave him, not Ten Commandments. He obeyed God when he was asked to go to a foreign country (Genesis 12). He was instructed on certain things that Israel was not. God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, but God condemned child sacrifices in the law of Moses. God ordained one woman for man in Genesis and the Law of Moses, however, Abraham disobeyed that instruction. Gen 25:1 “Abraham had taken another wife, whose name was Keturah”. Hence God commended Abraham for keeping certain specific instructions.  Abraham did not keep the Sabbath law, for Moses, while speaking of the covenant that contained the Sabbath commandment, said:  “The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers [Abraham, Isaac, Jacob], but with us [Israel], even who are all of us here alive this day”  (Deut.  5:3). Think about this. The Sabbath was a sign of the covenant between God and Israel (Exodus 31), but Abraham was given a different sign. If the Sabbath marked the people of God from all nations as distinctively God’s, couldn’t it just as easily mark Abraham as distinctively belonging to God? Besides, even if Abraham observed the Sabbath or circumcision, none of these rituals apply to Christians under new covenant (Col. 2:16,17). 
Romans 14:5
When Paul deals with the Jewish and Gentile believers functioning together in harmony, he makes an amazing statement – “one person esteems one day above others; another person regards every day the same” (Rom.14:5).  If it is required by God of all believers to observe some particular day, especially Saturday or Sunday, then how could Paul give the option for believers to regard every day the same?  Or, to put it another way, if sin is incurred by not observing a certain day, how can Paul allow for the non-observance of any days? 
These were the days enjoined in the law (Torah) for it is of the law that Paul treats all through the book of Romans. He makes no exception of the Sabbath day, but says plainly “every day.” It does not avail to say that Paul means only the annual Sabbaths or fast days because he mentions eating meat and herbs as these are classed with the weekly Sabbath. In Lev. 24:1-8 the Weekly Sabbath is classed with the offerings of oil, bread, frankincense. In Num. 28:9-10 it is classed with the offerings of lambs, meat and drink offerings, burnt offerings, etc. In 1 Chron. 23:29-31, the weekly Sabbath is classed with meat offering, sacrifices, new moons, feasts, etc. Paul confirms that in Col. 2, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days”.  I suggest that under the New Covenant there are no holy days or holy places (Jn.4:20-24) – only holy people.  
Matthew 5:17-18
Adventist point to Mathew 5:17-18 and says, Jesus did not abolish the Ten Commandments. Adventist think the Law and the Prophets is a reference to Ten Commandments, but the Law and the Prophets is a reference to the entire Old Testament. 
If what Adventists are saying was true, then, according to Matthew 5:17-18, every jot and tittle of the Law and the Prophets (entire Old Testament) is still in force…very little of which is observed by Adventist followers. They do not offer animal sacrifices (far more than a mere “jot” or a “tittle” of the Law!). They do not make pilgrimages to the temple thrice a year (as the Law and the Prophets commands). They do not observe the 613 commands in the Torah (and probably could not even name them)! 
If Jesus has not fulfilled all the Law and the Prophets, then every one of the 613 commandments remains in force, since not the least of them were to pass away until they were all fulfilled. Either they have now all been fulfilled (as the New Testament writers believed) or every jot and tittle remains—and cannot be followed without a Levitical priesthood, a bronze altar, animal sacrifices, levirate marriage, and capital punishment for rebellious children, witches, adulterers, homosexuals, kidnappers, blasphemers and Sabbath-breakers. Do the Adventist people advocate enforcement of all these duties?
2 Cor.3:1-13 – The Stone Tablets
The major assumption Adventists make is that the Ten Commandments have always been a moral code that floats along throughout history.  They emphatically state, “Paul never dismissed the Ten Commandment Law that God wrote with His own finger on stone tablets….God has never used another set of laws by which He judged His people”.
The truth is, however, that in 2 Cor.3 Paul specifically affirms three times that the old covenant form of the Ten Commandments were “abolished.” (v. 7,11,13).  You cannot get around the fact that Paul has the Ten Commandments in view for he mentions the “tablets of stone” and that which “was engraved in letters on stones” (v.3,7). In Hebrews 9:1, the first covenant that is now obsolete include the ten commandments (Hebrews 9:1-4).
Romans 3:31 – Ten Commandments or Old Testament?
Adventists states that “in…Romans 3:31…he [Paul] referred to the Ten Commandment Law of God”.  This is a blatant example of reading one’s agenda into a text.  There is nothing in what comes before or after 3:31 that mentions the Ten Commandments.  Paul asks and answers a question – “Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all!  Rather we uphold the law” (Rom.3:31).  What does the apostle mean by “the law”?  He means the Old Testament Scriptures.  In Rom.3:10-18 he cited Isaiah and the Psalms, and then said, “now we know that whatever the law says…”  In verse 21 he notes, “but now a righteousness of God apart from law has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.”  Again, the Old Testament is in view here.  In verse 31, then, Paul is affirming that the gospel does not nullify the teaching of the Old Testament.  Instead, the  Old Testament foretold the gospel, and Paul goes on in Romans 4 to confirm that the gospel establishes the  Old Testament writings, using Abraham and David as examples of justification by faith.
One of the most common meanings of “the law” in the NT is “the Old Testament writings.”  Adventists never point this out because they don’t know.  They often wrongly assume that “law” means the Ten Commandments. But Paul is contending that God’s gospel is validated by the teaching of the OT in regard to the universal sinfulness of the human race and in regard to the justification of Jews and Gentiles by faith in Christ.  The Ten Commandments are nowhere mentioned in the immediate context before or after Rom.3:31.
What Was Nailed to the Cross?
Adventist admits that the Ten Commandments are central in the old covenant, but they also know that it would be fatal to their position if  the Ten Commandments  were part of what was abolished in his flesh, “the law with its commandments and regulations” (Eph.2:14-15; Col.2:14).  Thus, they posit that only “the law of ceremonies” was nailed to the cross, and  the Ten Commandments  were not included.
But this is an interpretation driven by an agenda, not by listening to the texts.  Paul says that whatever was nailed to the cross “was against us” and “contrary to us” (Col.2:14).  Wouldn’t Paul’s remarks indicate that he has something in mind that would justly accuse and condemn us?  Wouldn’t that imply something of a moral nature?  What sense does it make to say that the ceremonial things like the mildew laws are against us and contrary to us?  The old covenant law was a unit of some 613 commands (cf. Gal.5:3).  The natural reading of Eph.2:14-15 and Col.2:14 would see that the entire old covenant written code was nailed to the cross, including the Ten Commandments which were the center point of the old covenant (cf. Ex.34:29-34). Hebrews 9:1-4 confirms the first covenant that is now obsolete had the tablets of the covenant.
The Law As A Dividing Wall Removed
Eph.2:14-18 teaches that the old covenant law stood as a barrier between Jews and Gentiles.  Obviously, one important functions of this law was to keep the Israelites separate from the other nations.  In order for Christ to make a “one new person” out of the two widely separated groups, the “law of commandments” had to be removed.  As long as the Law stood, Jew and Gentile had to be kept apart.  In God’s wisdom Christ fully honored the Law by obeying it, fulfilling it, and thereby “abolishing” it, and replacing it with a new covenant, so that he could create “one new person,” the body of Christ.
If the entire old covenant law was nailed to the cross, does this leave us with no moral direction?  Absolutely not.  We have already shown that he abolished the old covenant in order to “put legally into place” (“nomotheteo,” Heb.8:6) the New Covenant.  The life of discipleship flows out of the New Exodus, which brings with it commandments and New Command to love one another as he loved us on the cross, which Paul calls the “law of Christ” (Gal.6:2).  Hence, Jesus says, “if you love me, keep my commands” (plural).  Adventist think that that when Jesus said, “keep my commands,” he had the Ten Commandments in view.  That is a biased interpretation of Scripture.  Jesus meant his teachings.  He is the Prophet Moses wrote about in Deut.18, “him you must hear, or be cut off from the people” (cf. Mt.7:24,26).  Just as Israel’s obligations to the Lord arose from his mighty arm in the Red Sea exodus, so the church’s New Covenant life flows out of Christ’s exodus accomplished at Jerusalem.  “My commands” means all that Jesus teaches us in the New Covenant, including the things Jesus gave through the pens of those who wrote the New Covenant documents to the church.
Grace Teaches Us Not to Sin
Paul anticipated the concerns some would have when he asked in Rom.6:15, “What then?  Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?  Let it never be!”  Some might reason, “if we are not under law, won’t the floodgates of sin be opened?”  Paul’s answer is clear: the gospel that saves us also breaks the dominion of sin in our lives, and the Spirit enables us to walk in the gospel lifestyle described in Romans 12-16.
The event that saves us – the cross – also commands us how to live.  The grace of God that appeared in Christ’s incarnation not only brings salvation to people all over the world, it also teaches believers to live a life of godliness while they wait for the Lord’s coming (Titus 2:11-13).  “Grace,” says the apostle, is our sufficient teacher.  Just as Israel’s covenant life was rooted in the exodus out of Egypt (“the law came by Moses,” Jn.1:17a), so the body of Christ’s obedience flows out of the New Exodus at Golgotha (“grace and truth came by Jesus Christ,” Jn.1:17b).  The Scriptures of the New Covenant restates many moral commands out of the 613, and the nine of the ten commandments as part of righteous living, but the Sabbath, with many other rituals are viewed as a type and shadow that has seen its day, the reality having come in the person of Christ (Col.2:17).
Revelation 14:12, “keeping the commands of God”
Whenever Adventists see the word “commandments,” it assumes that the Ten Commandments are in view.  In doing this they utterly fail to recognize that a New Covenant is in effect and that out of it comes Messiah’s commands.  Adventists see the saints “keeping the commands of God” (Rev.14:12) and reads into this phrase “the Ten Commandments”.  But this statement in Revelation, and many others like it in the New Testament, simply mean the numerous commands of Jesus that flow out of the singular command to love one another as he loved us on the cross (Jn.13:34; 15:12-13).  The old covenant had around 613 commands, and it has been fulfilled and taken away.  A New Covenant has been put into effect based on better promises, and its commands are in force.  Indeed, the saints keep the commands of their Savior because they love him.
Jesus’ Commandments
Jesus gave many commands in Scripture. Some of them were for Jews. When Jesus cleansed a leper He commanded him: “Go thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded” (Mark 1:44; Luke 5:14). Why don’t Adventist obey this commandment from Jesus? Some verses were directed at the apostles specifically but can also apply to us today such as “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? 41 “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:40-41). Here are the some of the commands of Jesus. Repent (Matthew 4:17), Follow Me (Matthew 4:19), Let Your Light Shine (Matthew 5:16), Be Reconciled (Matthew 5:23–25), Do Not Lust (Matthew 5:28–30), Keep Your Word (Matthew 5:37), Love Your Enemies (Matthew 5:44–46), Judge Not (Matthew 7:1–3), Do Unto Others (Matthew 7:12), Take My Yoke (Matthew 11:28–30), Honor Your Parents (Matthew 15:4), Deny Yourself(Luke 9:23–25), Despise Not Little Ones (Matthew 18:10), Forgive Offenders (Matthew 18:21–22), Be a Servant (Matthew 20:26–28), Bring In the Poor (Luke 14:12–14). Be Born Again (John 3:5–7), Make Disciples (Matthew 28:19–20). Jesus quotes some of the commandments from the Law of Moses, but it doesn’t mean all of it applies. What is applicable to us has been commanded. He never commanded us to “Remember the Sabbath day” or condemn anyone for breaking it.
What Defines “Sin” in the New Covenant?
Adventists dogmatically asserts that “God gave us a clear definition of sin in His Ten Commandments.  Without this, people can’t recognize their pitiful condition and their need for a Savior….God’s moral law – the Ten Commandments – is eternal and the only definition of sin in the Bible”.  These remarks are vastly overstated and ultimately false.
Official SDA writings teach that the Ten Commandments are “the only definition of sin in the Bible,” citing 1 John 3:4, “whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.”  Later SDA’s say, “sin is the transgression, or breaking of, God’s law (1 John 3:4)”.  Such an interpretation, however, is dubious on three counts.
First, John never cites “the law” in this epistle.  The “commandments” mentioned repeatedly in this letter, as we have previously shown, refer to Christ’s commandments embedded in the New Covenant.  This is clearly illustrated, for example, in 1 John 3:22-24, “We obey his commands and do what pleases him.  And this is his command, to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.  Those who obey his commands live in him and he in them.”  “As he commanded us” refers to John 13:34 where the New Command was announced.  In the context of 1 John, the author gives no evidence at all that the Ten Commandments are in view; what is specifically mentioned relates to “the message you heard from the beginning: we should love one another.  This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 Jn.3:11,16).  “The beginning” in several passages in 1 John refers to the New Creation Jesus inaugurated at his incarnation.  
Adventists also cites 1 John 5:3, “his commands are not burdensome,” as a reference to the Ten Commandments.  This is another occasion where the authors just read their conclusions into the text without any justification.  “Commands” in 1 John have in view the New Covenant obligations issued by the Messiah.
Secondly, the Greek word for lawlessness in 1 John 3:4 is “anomia,”  Again, SDA’s assume that this word can only mean “actions which violate the Ten Commandments.”  But this is patently false.  In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus describes people who proclaimed that they had prophesied, cast out demons and performed many wonderful works in Jesus’ name.  Jesus says to them, “I never knew you. Depart from me, you who are working “anomia” (wickedness).  These religious people were guilty of “anomia,” lawlessness, but as you can see it would make no sense to try and define their sin simply as violations of the Ten Commandments.
Jesus’ Use of “Sin” in John’s Gospel
Thirdly, Jesus defines sin in John’s gospel without reference to the Ten Commandments.  The Lord states that he received his teachings directly from the Father and gave them to his disciples.  Listen to these excerpts from the Gospel of John.
“As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him.  For I did not come to judge the world but to save it.  There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him on the last day.  For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.  I know that his command leads to eternal life.  So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say (12:47-50)….Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?  The words I say to you are not just my own.  Rather, it is the Father living in me who is doing his work….If you love me, you will do what I command (14:10,15)….Jesus replied, If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.  My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.  He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.  These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me (14:23-24)….My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  No one has greater love than the one who lays down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command (15:12-14)….They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.  If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin.  Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin.  He who hates me hates my Father as well.  If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin.  But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father.  But this is to fulfill what is written in their law, “They hated me without reason.” (15:21-25)….but you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning (15:27)….Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.  When he comes, he will convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment.  Concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you see me no more; concerning judgment, because the prince of this world is judged (16:7-11)….I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world.  They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word.  Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you.  For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them (17:6-8)….You have no power over me that was not given to you from above.  Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin (19:11).
I have quoted extensively from this Gospel in order for you to get the full impact of the truth from Jesus’ lips.  From these texts the following key points are obvious:
  • The Father said out of the cloud, “This is my Beloved Son, Hear him” (Luke 9:35)
  • The Lord Jesus received his words (commands) directly from the Father
  • The words from the Father were passed on to the disciples
  • The words of the Father to Jesus will judge people on the last day
  • Christ’s followers will obey the commandments he received from the Father
  • Christ’s New Command is for his people to love one another as he loved them in the agony of the New Exodus in Jerusalem.
  • In John 15:21-25 “sin” is not defined with reference to the Ten Commandments, but with reference to the presence of the Messiah among people and their rejection of him
  • The law” mentioned in 15:25 is not the Ten Commandments but refers specifically to Psalm 69:4
  • Sin is not believing in Christ.” This is the “sin” the Spirit will bring worldly people to acknowledge.  There is nothing in this crucial text on the Spirit’s work about conviction by the Ten Commandments as a prerequisite for people recognizing “their pitiful condition or their need for a Savior. The Fourth Gospel more typically links sin and ‘unbelief,’ with sin as the refusal to recognize Jesus as the revelation of God.
  • When Jesus says “My commands,” he means the very words that came to him from the Father.  
  • These texts show that it is a serious error to suggest that by “keep my commands” Jesus has in view the Ten Commandments.
Acts 15 – Where are the Ten Commandments?
The tradition arose of dividing the old covenant law into three categories: moral, ceremonial and civil.  While there is some truth in this three-fold division, overall it creates more confusion than clarity.  For one thing the Jewish mind viewed the Law as an undivided unit.  The three-fold division to them would be superficial and misleading.  Paul brings this out in Gal.5:3, “Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised, that he is obligated to do the whole law.”  In other words, because the old covenant was a totality, if you put yourself under one part you became a debtor to do every part of it.  You just can’t pick and choose parts of the Law.  Paul’s position is that you are either under all of it or none of it.  There is no middle ground.  (This would provide further evidence that the entire old covenant law in the first covenant – “moral, ceremonial, civil” – was nailed to the cross).
Acts 15 is another passage Adventists fail to understand.  Here we find that false teachers had come from Jerusalem to Antioch and taught that “the Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the Law of Moses” (v.5).  After much discussion, the brethren recognized that the Gentile believers were not required to bear the yoke of the Law, “which neither we nor our fathers were able to bear” (v.10).  It was concluded that the Gentiles in Christ should avoid four things: food offered to idols, sexual immorality, meat from strangled animals and blood (vv.20,29).
Now if the perspective of the Adventists was correct, then the resolution of the problem in Acts 15 would have been a no-brainer.  If the civil and ceremonial laws were nailed to the cross, but the Ten Commandments were not, then a simple answer for the dilemma would have been at hand.  The council would have reasoned, “Brethren, the ceremonial and civil laws are no longer binding, but the Ten Commandments remain.  Therefore, the Gentile believers are to keep the Ten Commandments, but are not obligated to keep things like circumcision.”  But this is precisely the answer that is not given!  This reveals that those who divide the Law into parts are not akin in their thinking to the first century brethren.  These people knew that the Lord must lead them to a New Covenant perspective in which Jew and Gentile could function together as “one new person” (Eph.2:15).
The Benchmark: Saturday Sabbath-Keeping
In the final analysis, Adventist are seeking to bring people to embrace a Seventh-Day Adventist agenda.  They say that the Saturday Sabbath is a sign of our allegiance to God, that it must be kept from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday, that “Satan wants to make Sunday the mark of his authority”, that the Saturday Sabbath “is not a minor issue”, that it is “about loyalty to God”, that Sabbath-breaking “is an apostasy”, and that not keeping the seventh-day “could separate you from a loving Savior”.
If a new Christian was to read the New Testament from Matthew to Revelation, would the conclusions listed above jump out at him?  I don’t think so.  Jesus said that the sign by which the world would know we are his people was our visible love for each other, not by observing a day (Jn.13:35).  There is no emphasis in the teachings of Jesus or apostles or Genesis on “remembering” the Sabbath; “remembering” is focused on the Lord Jesus in the context of the meal shared among the disciples (1 Cor.11:24-25).  
Pick and Choose Sabbath Law: Why No Selling, But No Stoning?
Adventists cherry picks a few Sabbath law verses from the Old Testament as warrant to teach that on Saturday secular work and buying and selling should cease, and delighting in the Lord should be encouraged.  However, if Adventists are going to enforce these elements, on what basis does it omit the rest of the Sabbath laws:  “stay where you are” on the Sabbath, “no cooking on the sabbath (Ex. 16:29), no kindling of a fire (Ex. 35:3), and the death penalty attached to Sabbath-breaking in the OT?  A man picked up sticks on the Sabbath and the Lord ordered that he be stoned by the congregation of Israel (Numbers 15:32-36).  This event echoes what the Lord commanded in Exodus 31:14-15.  To suggest that some elements of Old Testament Sabbath-keeping are binding, but others are not, reveals the serious problem of picking and choosing parts of the old covenant law.  The old covenant connected working on the Sabbath and execution by stoning.  Adventist’s want to enforce the strictness of no Sabbath labor, but without the punishment associated with that law.  Why? Do Adventist realize that they are under a curse for not observe every requirement in the book of the law? 
The Sabbath and Assembly Meetings
“The seventh-day Sabbath is the day God set aside for church services”, says Adventists.  If one examines the Old Testament teaching about the Sabbath, this statement is shown to be mistaken.  In Israel there was no congregational worship on the Sabbath.  Everything would shut down and each family met privately in their homes.  It could be noted that under Roman rule the Jews in Jesus’ day gathered together in synagogues.  However, the synagogue was an adjustment to the times, not something the Lord had ever specified in the Law.
Jesus Was “Under Law”
Adventists points out that Jesus kept the Sabbath.  This is certainly true, but this fact does not inherently lead to the conclusion that we also must do the same.  Jesus was born “under law” (Gal.4:4).  The believer’s status is “not under law” (Rom.6:14-15; Gal.5:18; 1 Cor.9:20).  Jesus was required to do a number of things as a Jew for which we have no obligation.  For example, Jesus kept Israel’s dietary laws, but under the New Covenant the clean/unclean distinction regarding foods has passed away.  Even Jesus foretold this in the Gospel: “nothing that enters someone from the outside can make that person unclean….When Jesus said this he meant that no longer was any food unclean for people to eat” (Mark 7:18-19).
Synagogue Evangelism
“On what day did Paul worship?” asks Adventists.  They reply with Acts 18:4, “and he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded them both Jews and Greeks”.  Adventists left out the crucial phrase, “persuaded them to believe in Jesus.”  This is another example of Adventists using a passage totally out of its context.  Paul’s primary thrust in passages like this was evangelistic.  Paul was not going among a group of believers who were enjoying the Lord’s Supper together and mutually edifying one another.  The synagogue was filled with unbelieving Jews who needed to hear about Christ (not the Ten Commandments) from the Old Testament Scriptures.  It was Paul’s custom to enter synagogues first, as he wished for his people to be saved (Rom.10:1).  Acts 18:4 has nothing to do with a Christian gathering, such as the one mentioned in Acts 20:7.
Matthew 24:20 and 70AD
SDA’s think the Sabbath was a holy day in A.D.  70 when Jerusalem was destroyed–long after the crucifixion of Jesus–cause Jesus told his disciples to “pray that your flight be not in the winter, neither on Sabbath day”  (Matt.  24:20).  But if this passage proves the Sabbath was a holy day in A.  D.  70, it also proves “the winter”  was a “holy season,”  for he told them may that their flight be not in the winter.  It was not the sacredness of the day or the season that Jesus had in mind, but the safety of his disciples.  Flight in the winter time would be difficult.  Also the Jews, who had not accepted Christianity, would still be keeping the Sabbath would have the gates of Jerusalem closed on that day.  Therefore, escape on that day would also be difficult; so they were to pray that they not have to flee on the sabbath or in the winter.

Did the Roman Catholic Church change the day of the Sabbath at the Council of Laodicea?
Adventists are confused with the “Catholic Church” and “Roman Catholic” just as they confused with the law and other things. It is amazing how common and widespread this complete mis-information is among sabbatarians! In fact, the Council of Laodicea sat 363-365AD and The Roman Catholic Church did not even exist until several centuries after that! The early “catholic” church, as described in church histories, is the Church which Jesus founded! The word ‘catholic’ simply meant ‘universal’ and the term was often used to separate biblical churches from heretical groups. 
Adventist themselves have realized this and some now confessess this but many Adventist are still ignorant. Adventist Today magazine quotes, “The Roman Catholic Church as such had little to do with the change” (Source:
When Catholics talk about Sabbath being changed to Sunday, they are talking about a practice that started from the apostles in the first century, who they claim are the founders of their Church. Hence, Adventists are naive to claim that a change happened many centuries later through the little horn they identify as the Roman Catholic Church. When all evidence fail them, Adventists have also tried to promote the idea that Sunday practice started with paganism, however, Adventist scholars have refuted this non-sense as well. C. Mervyn Maxwell, Ph.D., professor of church history at Andrews University Theological Seminary, Berrien Springs, Michigan writes:  “There is little evidence that the sun occupied the unique position attributed to it by some modern authors. When the Emperor Caracalla tried to impose sun worship in the early years of the third century, the Romans laughed at him. Although sun worship has always played a role in pagan religions, it wasn’t until the end of that century (3rd century) that the sun enjoyed real prominence among the Roman gods—and by that time many Christians, at least, had been observing Sunday for 150 years. In his Apology addressed to the Roman Government, the great Christian writer Tertullian specifically refuted the charge that Christians worshiped on Sunday in honor of the sun” (Source: Ministry Magazine, 1977).
The New Covenant View of Days
There are four main positions that Bible students have set forth.
1. The weekly Saturday Sabbath is required for believers as a fulfillment of the Fourth Commandment.  It is sinful to meet on any other day.  This is the position of SDA’s and other Sabbatarian groups.
2.  The weekly Sunday Sabbath is required for Christians as a fulfillment of the Fourth Commandment.  This views posits that the Sabbath principle – one day in seven – was transferred to Sunday, primarily because of Christ’s resurrection on that day.  It is sinful to meet on other days than Sunday in most circumstances.  This view was held in the past by Charles Hodge, Benjamin Warfield, and by those who hold to the Westminster Confession of Faith.  Adventists rightly points out that there is no biblical evidence for this view.
3.  The church should meet on Sunday as the Lord’s Day, but not because it has anything to do with the Fourth Commandment.  This position would appeal to certain patterns in the New Testament – (1) Christ was raised on the first day (which in the Greek is literally, “the first [day] after the Sabbath”); (2) some of Christ’s appearances to his disciples after his resurrection were on the first day where there was small service of worship, and Jesus preached an expositional sermon; (3) some Christian gatherings took place on the first day (Acts 20:7).  This view admits that there is no command to meet on Sunday, but submit that it is most in keeping with apostolic example to do so.  
4.  Under the New Covenant there are no holy places or holy days – only holy people, who are the Temple of God (Eph.2:21-22; John 4:19-24; 1 Pet.2:5,9).  Paul teaches in Rom.14:17 that days and food are not an issue in Messiah’s kingdom.  Brothers and sisters are free to observe or not observe days as unto the Lord.  One option “in Christ” is “to judge every day the same” (Rom.14:5).  Each person is to be persuaded in his/her own mind in such matters. Now, if there is a day that must be observed or sin is committed, then how could Paul allow for some brethren to “regard every day the same”?  Adventists makes the astounding judgment, “no one can keep every day holy in the eyes of the Lord!”.  But we must give heed to the apostle Paul who by inspiration of the Spirit said that believers can regard every day the same before the Lord.  Under the New Covenant there is no reason to believe that the body of Christ can incur sin by meeting on the “wrong” day.  The brethren must gather together, but they are free to work out the details in light of their New Covenant privileges and responsibilities as priests.  The New Covenant or testament puts no emphasis on keeping a day of worship – neither Genesis.  Rather, we are encouraged to be our brother’s keeper seven days a week.

Friday Sundown to Saturday Sundown Forever?
The utter Sabbath-centeredness of SDA theology is revealed in it’s conviction that even in the New Heaven/New Earth, “for all eternity, God’s redeemed people will gather every seventh-day Sabbath to have a time of special worship and fellowship with our Creator God”.  But the Book of Revelation makes it clear that in the the new earth the elements necessary for a “weekly” gathering will be non-existent.  “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of the Lord gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp….There will be no night there….There will be no more night, they will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light” (Rev. 21:23, 25; 22:5).  The fundamental essence of the age to come is that “history” is finished (in which the sun and moon appear in cycles) and “time” simply is no more. SDA’s make the ultimate error of carrying over a type and shadow literally into an age in which a seventh-day Sabbath is ludicrous.  Further, by focusing on the shadow it misses the glory of the Lamb who is the Sabbath-reality and supplies the light of the New Heavens and New Earth.

In light of Heb.4, it would make more sense to realize that there is indeed a Sabbath rest awaiting the people of God in the New heavens.  The gospel way to keep the Sabbath is to cease from your own works and find rest in the Lord Jesus (Mt.11:28-29).  “Rest” in Christ has a “firstfruits” fulfillment in this age, and looks for the full harvest of rest in the New Heaven/New Earth, where there will be no more tears and no more curse.
The Glory of Christ in the New Covenant
It is a shame that Adventism are so fixated on the Sabbath and Sunday laws.  They are enamored with a law-based exodus out of Egypt (Ex.20).  They exclaim: It was an awe-inspiring event when the Lord spoke His perfect Ten Commandment Law to the assembly of Israel!  You might want to review Exodus, chapters 19 and 20, to contemplate what the people experienced. 
In Heb. 12:18-24, Paul distinctly says that Christians do not go to Sinai and the thunders of the law, but they come to Jesus and the new covenant. “For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest. And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake: But ye are come unto Mount Sion. And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.” (Heb. 12:18-24) Adventists are always dwelling upon the terrible scenes at Sinai at the giving of the law and pointing others there; but Paul says, No, do not go there; but to Mount Sion, to Jesus and the new covenant, to its teachings. Isa. 2:3; “Out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” There is where we now go for the law, not to the ark or to Sinai.
In truth, the really awe-inspiring event was the Transfiguration, and even this occurrence was a pre-figuring of the full glory that would happen in Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection and ascension (Lk.9:28-36).  Moses and Elijah spoke with the glorified Christ about the “exodus” he would soon accomplish at Jerusalem.  The Shekinah glory cloud came over the disciples, Jesus, Moses and Elijah.  The Father speaks out of the cloud, “This is my Son whom I have chosen; listen to him.”  As these words came forth, the Lord removed Moses and Elijah, and the disciples “found that Jesus was alone.”  We must fix our eyes on the exodus of Christ that brought a New Covenant and a New Commandment.  That is where the glory of God in the face of Jesus is found.  Adventists focuses on the wrong exodus.  They give more attention to Exodus 19 and 20 than they do to the many New Testament passages that exalt Jesus and the Sabbath rest to be found in him.
Adventists are excited that “thousands of Christians are now displaying Ten Commandment replicas on their lawn”.  What a tragedy!  They glory in an exodus that was just a shadow.  What would happen if believers displayed more openly that they were the fragrance of Christ, a letter from Christ written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts (2 Cor.3:3).  The command that should be displayed – the New Command to love one another as He loved – is the one that is offensive because it is Christ-centered.  Nobody would tolerate that word of Jesus to be hung in public buildings!  The irony is that the New Command is what is in force; the old covenant form which was on stone tablets, Paul says, was abolished.

Adventism claims to be a bible based movement that follows “well organized Bible study.”  Unfortunately, Adventism follows a very selective study of Scripture portions that they find useful to promote their Sabbath-centered agenda.  Judged by the standards of Bible interpretation they appeal to, the truth is, they have succeeded in presenting to the public a teaching that will lead people far astray from the simplicity of Christ.
We all need a big dose of humility as we search the Scriptures and share with one another what the Lord is showing us.  As Thomas Dubay points out, “Finding the solution to a mathematical problem is possible without humility, but finding God’s will is impossible without this virtue” (“Communication in Community,” ST, 14:4, 1985, p.11).