Saturday, September 27, 2003

Special Insights Extra

Third Quarterly 2003 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“Sanctuary Themes: The Book of Hebrews”
(Produced by the editorial board of the 1888 Message Study Committee)
As we come to the last lesson in this series, let us review some
significant contributions that the 1888 message of Christ’s
righteousness gives us for understanding Hebrews:

(1) Hebrews chapter 1--Christ is the eternally pre-existent Son
of God: “Our purpose in this investigation is to set forth Christ’s
rightful position of equality with the Father, in order that His power
to redeem may be the better appreciated” (E. J. Waggoner, Christ and
His Righteousness, p. 19, new ed., 21). “The fact that Christ is a part
of the Godhead, possessing all the attributes of Divinity, being the
equal of the Father in all respects, as Creator and Lawgiver, is the
only force there is in the atonement. It is this alone which makes
redemption a possibility” (pp. 43, 44; new ed., 51).
(2) Hebrews chapter 2--in His incarnation, Christ “took” our
fallen, sinful flesh or nature, yet was sinless: “There was in His
whole life a struggle. The flesh, moved upon by the enemy of all
righteousness, would tend to sin, yet His divine nature never for a
moment harbored an evil desire, nor did His divine power for a moment
waver. . . . He returned to the throne of the Father as spotless as
when he left the courts of glory” (Waggoner, Signs of the Times, Jan.
21, 1889; note Ellen White’s similar comment six years later: “On not
one occasion was there a response to . . . [Satan’s] manifold
temptations. Not once did Christ step on Satan’s ground,” Letter 8,
1895). This view of the blessed nearness of our Savior is special to
the 1888 message. Again: Christ “was made in the likeness of sinful
flesh. Don’t go too far, . . . not in the likeness of sinful mind. Do
not drag His mind into it. His flesh was our flesh; but the mind was
‘the mind of Christ Jesus.’ . . . If He had taken our mind, how then
could we ever have been exhorted to ‘let this mind be in you, which was
also in Christ Jesus’”? (A. T. Jones, 1895 General Conference Bulletin,
p. 327).
(3) The central theme of Hebrews is perfection of Christian
character--5:9, 14; 6:1; 7:11, 19, 25, 28; 9:9; 10:1, 14; 11:40; 13:21:
“Christ was in the place and He had the nature, of the whole human
race. And in Him meet all the weaknesses of mankind, so that every man
on the earth who can be tempted at all, finds in Jesus Christ power
against that temptation. For every soul there is in Jesus Christ
victory against all temptation, and relief from the power of it”
(Jones, ibid, p. 324; eleven times in Hebrews Christian perfection of
character is emphasized).
(4) Hebrews 9:2-10--the “1888” Hebrews spotlight is on Christ’s
unique work in the Most Holy Apartment of the heavenly sanctuary. He is
preparing a corporate body (the church) to be ready to meet Jesus at
His second coming and be translated. (His First Apartment ministry
prepared people to die and come up in the first resurrection.) In 1893
Jones discusses the 1888 message: “Now brethren, when did that message
of the righteousness of Christ begin with us as a people? [One or two
in the audience: ‘Three or four years ago.’] Which was it, three? Or
four? [Congregation: ‘Four.’] Yes, four. Where was it? [Congregation:
‘Minneapolis.’] . . . What is that message of righteousness? The
Testimony has told us what it is; the loud cry--the latter rain. Then
what did the brethren reject in that fearful position in which they
stood, at Minneapolis? They rejected the latter rain--the loud cry of
the third angel’s message. . . . And, brethren, the time has come to
take up tonight what we there rejected. . . . Let us thank the Lord
that He is dealing with us still, . . . and to pour upon us the latter
rain, that we may be translated. That is what the message
means—translation--to you and me” (1893 General Conference Bulletin,
(5) Hebrews 11 lifts our vision above a reward for ourselves. We
glimpse a concern for Christ that He receive His reward. Here is a
sample insight: “The little horn--the man of sin, the mystery of
iniquity--has put his own earthly, human, and sinful priesthood,
ministry, and sanctuary, in the place of the heavenly and holy
priesthood, ministry, and sanctuary. In this priesthood and service of
the mystery of iniquity, the sinner confesses his sins to the priest,
and goes on sinning. Indeed, in that priesthood and ministry there is
no power to do anything else than to go on sinning; and even after they
have confessed their sins. But, sad as the question may be, is it not
too true that those who are not of the mystery of iniquity, but who
really believe in Jesus and in His priesthood and ministry--is it not
too true that even these also confess their sins, and then go on
“But is this fair to our great High Priest, to His sacrifice, and
to His blessed ministry? Is it fair that we should thus put Him, His
sacrifice, and His ministry, practically upon a level with that of the
‘abomination of desolation,’ and to say that in Him and in His ministry
there is no more power or virtue than there is in that of the ‘mystery
of iniquity’?” (Jones, The Consecrated Way to Christian Perfection, pp.
121, 122).
(6) What does the 1888 message see as the end result of the
sanctuary message in Hebrews? Revelation 19:7-9: To prepare a corporate
body of God’s people to become the bride of Christ, to “grow up” to
“make herself ready” for the “marriage of the Lamb.” This wedding will
be His reward!
(7) Let us not think of our study of Hebrews as a past
(as our algebra in high school!). Let’s continue receiving fresh
insights by studying Christ and His Righteousness, The Consecrated Way
to Christian Perfection, The Everlasting Covenant, and the 1893 and
1895 General Conference Bulletins.
—Robert J. Wieland