The Path to the Throne of God

 

32. THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY PLACE - THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH


Organization of the Christian Church. The church of the court was gone, but at the last Passover, while Christ was still on earth, He Himself laid the foundation of the Christian church; the church of the holy place. "It was God who gave to them the name of Christian. This is a royal name, a "worthy name" (James 2:7), given to all who join themselves to Christ." "The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch." Acts 11:26. The first step in the organization of the Christian church was taken when Christ ordained the Twelve, "that they should be with Him. and that He might send them forth to preach." Mark 3:14; AA 18. It was continued when at the last - the passover eaten by Jesus with the twelve - He instituted the Lord's Supper to take the place of the Passover. It was completed at the last Pentecost when, as the church "were all with one accord in one place, "Christ sent His representative, the Holy Spirit, to "the whole congregation" of believers, the number of whem at that time being "about an hundred and twenty." Acts 1:15. These may therefore be called the charter members of the Christian church.


The Last Pentecost, the Birthday of the Christian Church. This pentecostal experience showed the disciples that although the heavenly sanctuary and the ministration of our High Priest are invisible to us, yet "while Jesus ministers in the sanctuary above, He is still by His Spirit (His representative) the minister of the church on earth." DA 166. Therefore, the disciples did not at once enter upon their mission, because Jesus had told them to "wait" for the Spirit. Acts 1:4; John 14:16,17. Fifty days after the Passover Jesus ate, and about ten days after the ascension, as they were assembled in "the house" (an upper room) in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:2; 1:13,14, they received the gift of the Holy Spirit, Christ's representative, and were thus set apart to carry forward the work of God.

As the manifestation of the power of God when He through Christ spoke His law from Sinai on the first Pentecost - fifty days after the first Passover - marked the birthday of the Christian church. This Pentecostal experience pointed the disciples from the earthly sanctuary to the heavenly where Jesus had gone, and they understood that the heavenly sanctuary had succeeded the earthly.

It was because the Jews rejected the Messiah that they did not understand the change in the sanctuary service from earth to heaven, and therefore they could not receive the pentecostal blessing, nor could they be benefited by the mediation of Christ in the holy place of the sanctuary above. Only those who by faith followed Him from the earthly to the heavenly sanctuary, could be benefited by His work of atonement for man.


The Mission of the Christian Church. The same commission that Christ had given to the Hebrew church, He now gave to His disciples - the Christian church: "Go ye . . . and teach all nations . . . to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you," "beginning at Jerusalem." Matt. 28:19; Luke 24:47: Mark 16:15. The Christian church was built upon the same foundation as was the Hebrew church. Though the Hebrew church had failed, God hnd not changed. His eternal law remained Christ Himself declaring: "I am not come to destroy (the law), but to fulfil. . ."Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." Matt. 5:17,18. Christ was "a perfect fulfillment of God's law." MH 456. The early Christian church accepted this without question, as all must do who truly believe in God as the Creator. They picked up the golden chain of truth where the Hebrew church had lost it, and went a step further proclaiming faith in Christ as their crucified, risen, and ascended Lord.

Paul made clear the relation of these two generations of the church when he said, "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: Yea, we establish the law." Rom. 3.31. In this Paul recognized the truth that "faith without obedience is presumption." As long as God is Creator,

His law cannot fail. Should one jot or one tittle be done away, all true worship of the Creator would automatically cease, and all the world would revert to the worship of idols. This truth is axiomatic. No need for the Christian church to emphasize the obligation of the law, for that was at once self- evident and obvious. Their special mission was to proclaim faith in a crucified, risen, and ascended Saviour.


The Call to Come Out of the Hebrew Church. The preaching of the gospel of a crucified, risen, and ascended Lord was to begin at Jerusalem. Luke 24:47. On the day of Pentecost the apostles had been given "tongues like as of fire," Acts 2:3, and through this zeal of the Spirit-filled apostles thousands of the honest in heart responded to the call to come out of the new fallen Hebrew church. Among others, the great and learned apostle Paul left the Hebrew church and threw all his talent and power into preaching the gospel of a crucified, risen, and ascended Lord. "I determined," he said, "not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." I Cor. 2:2.

Although the divine presence had left the earthly sanctuary, God in His tender mercy gave the Jews three and one-half years longer, till the end of the seventy weeks in A.D. 34, Dan. 9:27, to turn to Christ, their ascended Lord and Redeemer. Even then, though the Hebrew church as the divinely organized representative of God on earth was at an end, God continued to plead with the people. One of the longest epistles of Paul is his epistle to the Hebrews, in which with all the eloquence of the learned man that he was, and with the power of the Holy Spirit resting upon him, he explained the work of the heavenly sanctuary and of Christ as High Priest.


The Price of Loyal Obedience and Service. Did all this labor and loyalty cost anything? Listen again to the words of Paul: "Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches." II Cor. 11:22-28. Did these things discourage Paul? Listen again to that mighty champion of the Christian faith: "None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy. . . . to testify the gospel of the grace of God." Acts 20:24.

Not only Paul, but many a faithful witness for Christ met a martyr's death. John the Baptist was beheaded in a loathsome dungeon. James was killed with the sword, Stephen was stoned, Peter was crucified head downward. John the apostle and revelator was exiled to the lonely Isle of Patmos. But none of them faltered In their labors of love, or proved untrue to their sacred trust.


"A Falling Away." History repeats itself. As the Hebrew church lost their vision of the divine meaning of the sanctuary and its services, and formed alliances with the heathen world around them, so in the Christian church there came "a falling away," and "that man of sin" was revealed, "the son of perdition." II These. 2:3. Paul, even in his day, says, this "mystery of iniquity doth already work." II These. 2:7.

For centuries after the early apostles had done their mighty work for God, the church continued to teach the obligation of God's law. Even today the creeds of practically all Christian sects express absolute confindence in the binding claims of the Ten Commandments as given to Israel.

Faith in Christ as the Son of God, the Saviour of the world, was the great burden of the preaching of the apostles. But as time went on even this fundamental truth degenerated into the blind teaching: "Faith, only have faith." To such an unbalanced and meaningless extent was this carried, that obedience to the eternal law of God was well nigh lost sight of. The Hebrew generation

of the church failed because their sacrifices were "not mixed with faith" Heb. 4:2; on the tombstone of the fallen Christian generation of the church is written, "Faith, if it hath not works, is dead." James 2:17.

Foreseeing the dangers of the church, God through John left the warning, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For. . . the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. . . is of the world . . . As ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists." I John 2:15-18. "Many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is . . . antichrist." II John 7.


The Work of Antichrist - "the Daily.' In Daniel 7:8 and 8:9, this power is called "the little horn." It is a development of the "dreadful and terrible" beast of Daniel 7:7, which was revealed to the prophet in vision and which Protestants agree symbolizes the papacy. Because "Satan. . . the arch deceiver, hates the great truths that bring to view an atoning Sacrifice and an allpowerful Mediator," GC 488 - truths symbolized in the sanctuary, - power described in Daniel 8:9-13 directed his wrath against the sanctuary. "By him the daily was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down." v. 11.

As already noted, the Hebrew word here translated "daily" is the same word as is translated "continual," "perpetual," and "continually" in Numbers 4:7, Exodus 30:8, and Leviticus 24:2, where the services at the golden table, the altar of incense, and the candlestick are set forth, each of which points to Christ; Also the "continual burnt offering" of the lamb morning and evening on the brazen altar, represented Christ.

This little horn "swelled high" (Moffatt) and "cast down some . . . of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them." AV v. 10. Moffatt continuing, says: “It even magnified itself to match the Prince of the starry host, and deprived Him of the daily sacrifice (in the court, and of the daily in the holy place), demolishing the place of His sanctuary (that great object lesson of salvation through Christ, which is "the key to the whole treasure-house of God's Word.)” Ed. 126. Thus was the daily profanely treated, the true religion was beaten down, and the horn practiced and prospered in his career." Dan. 8:10-12. How long was this blasphemous work to continue? The prophecy declares, "Unto 2300 days, (which ended in 1844), then shall the sanctuary be cleansed;" (Hebrew, restored to its rightful position). Dan. 8:14. Is it any wonder that when Daniel, with his sacred regard for the sanctuary, understood the vision and learned that this work against high Heaven and against the people of God on earth would continue for nearly 2500 years from his day, - is it any wonder that he "fainted, and was sick certain days?" Dan. 8:27.

How is it that this "man of sin. . . the son of perdition," II These. 2:3, practiced and prospered in his career? It was because a study and understanding of the sanctuary had been neglected or lost sight of. “Let us beware lest the sly tricks” of the devil deprive us of the blessings which a study of the sanctuary invitingly holds out.

This same little horn has not only "profanely treated" the daily sacrifice in the court. and the daily services in the holy place of the sanctuary, with the intent to "cast down the truth," _to -"dem- olish-"the true religion" symbolized in the sanctuary, but he has even entered the most holy place. where no one but the high priest was ever allowed, and boldly declared that the law of God (located in the ark) is subject to his authority, that the Sabbath of the Lord containing the seal which validates His law is done away, and his own seal, the observance of Sun-day (the first day of the week) has taken its place. By this act, he has turned the attention of the church away from the Creator memorialized in the Sabbath commandment, to that base idol - the god of the sun, "and" says John, "all the world wondered after the beast." Rev. 13:3 - "went after the beast in wonder. . worshiping the beast." Moffatt.

The horn not only "thought to change "the times and the law," RSV, of the Most High, Dan. 7:25, but he treacherously introduced other errors into the Christian church. He substituted sprinkling or pouring for baptism by immersion, a symbol of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, which John the Baptist administered and which Christ Himself experienced "to fulfill all

righteousness." Matt. 3:15. Contrary to the Word of God, this "man of sin" has even counterfeited the priesthood of Christ, declaring that he has power to forgive sin and that confession should be made to him. He taught the people that man is immortal, and that therefore all sinners must suffer eternal torment as a punishment for sin. He taught them that the living might hold communion with the dead. These and many other doctrines, entirely contrary to the pure teachings of the Word of God, were slyly introduced into the Christian church. Thus the pure teachings of christ and the early apostles were hidden beneath the rubbish of error, and the church knew it not.

The church knew it not because for centuries this same power had deprived them of the Scriptures, "teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." Mark 7:7. In fact, so fully was the work of our great High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary misrepresented and distorted that Inspiration declares that this "man or sin" "opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple (sanctuary) of God, showing himself that he is God." II Thess. 2:4. Almost the entire Christian church now follows the dictates of that "wicked one," "the son of perdition," some of its members even ready to fight for the claims of ths anti-Christian power.

But this cannot always continue, as James Russell Lowell has so well expressed:


"Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne;

But that scaffold sways the future, And beyond the dim unknown

Standeth God within the shadow, Keeping watch above His own."


The Power of Antichrist Broken. Not until the Great Reformation of the sixteenth century exposed some of the deceptive errors of the little horn, and broke his power; not until about that time, when printing from movable type came into use and the Bible was translated into modern languages, was the Word of God in its purity made accessible to the common people.


The Third Generation of the Church Due. In spite of the Great Reformation which did so much to break the power of the little horn, and to restore the Bible to the Christian church, in spite of the noble work of the missionaries of "the Carey Epoch" in giving the Bible to the heathen world, many deceptive and destructive errors still survived, causing confusion and unbelief, and dividing the Christian church into many different sects. The time was at hand when all the false teachings of antichrist were to be exposed, and a knowledge of the pure Word of God was to be given to "whosoever will." Rev. 22:17.

Just at this time, the church was awakened by "a loud voice" "having the everlasting gospel to preach," and proclaiming: "the hour of His Judgment is come," Rev. 14:6,7; "Prepare to meet thy God, 0 Israel." Amos 4:12. God gave the Hebrew church three and one-half years in which to accept the message of a crucified, risen, and ascended Lord: He gave the Christian generation of the church ten years in which to accept the Judgment message. During these ten years, this message shook the religious world, but comparatively few responded. It was on this decisive issue that the Christian generation of the church finally closed its career. The end of the 2300 days, when the heavenly sanctuary was to be cleansed, Dan 8:14, had arrived. Then Christ closed His ministry in the holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, and entered upon His work as Judge in the most holy place. As the Hebrew church had refused to follow Him within the first veil into the holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, so now the Christian church as a whole refused to follow their Lord within the second veil into the most holy place. A correct understanding of the sanctuary would have lighted their way and saved them from disaster. A more complete knowledge of the sanctuary was about to give birth to the third generation of the church, called the Remnant church, the church of the most holy place. Rev. 12:17.