Human beings are creatures of habit. We generally have an aversion to changing our habits of thinking and how we live our lives. Once we establish a default setting in our daily routines, we tend to automatically revert to it. However, this tendency manifested in the spiritual experience has negatively affected the cause of God in the past and delayed the finishing of the work.
We see this problem in what happened two millenniums ago when there was a major transition from the old testament era to the new testament. For four thousand years before Christ, God’s faithful people worshipped Him through the sacrificial system that had become well ingrained in their minds through the sanctuary services and ceremonies. But then Christ came and fulfilled that which was typified by the sacrifices and offerings. God was no longer to be approached the way He had been for 4,000 years. He was to be sought by “a new and living way” (KJV, Hebrews 10:19-22).
Unfortunately, the great majority of His people failed to change their spiritual default setting. Even after unseen hands tore the temple veil was torn from top to bottom, many still continued to approach God through the sacrifices and ceremonies which they had employed in their past history. In fact, we read that “the great Sacrifice had been offered and had been accepted, and the Holy Spirit which descended on the day of Pentecost carried the minds of the disciples from the earthly sanctuary to the heavenly, where Jesus had entered by His own blood, to shed upon His disciples the benefits of His atonement. But the Jews were left in total darkness. They lost all the light which they might have had upon the plan of salvation, and still trusted in their useless sacrifices and offerings. The heavenly sanctuary had taken the place of the earthly, yet they had no knowledge of the change. Therefore they could not be benefited by the mediation of Christ in the holy place” (White, Early Writings, 260).
BEWARE OF TURNING BACK
However, even those who made the transition from the earthly sanctuary to the heavenly were not entirely secure in their new spiritual default setting. For example, some of the Jewish converts to Christianity began to revert back to their former ways of worshipping God. In Acts 15 we read of the crisis that arose in the early church because some of the Jewish converts maintained that it was needful for the Christian believers to go back to the observance of some of the Mosaic laws in order to be saved. These Judaisers were a continual problem to Paul in his work among the Gentiles and hindered the progress of the gospel.
TO WHOM ARE WE PRAYING?
The next point of transition happened 18 centuries later. For 18 centuries after the death and resurrection of Christ, His followers approached Him in the holy place of the heavenly sanctuary. But, in 1844 when He changed His ministry from the holy place to the most holy, the great majority did not follow Him in that transition. They rejected the light of the 3rd angel and continued to worship in the first apartment, now vacated by Jesus. There were tragic consequences. According to Early Writings pages 55-56, Satan assumed the place of Christ in their prayers, and when they prayed to who they thought was Jesus, Satan answered their prayers and breathed upon them his unholy influence. Even though they experienced light and much power it was a subtle and overpowering form of spiritualism, custom made to deceive the Advent believers.
Now, after over 170 years after 1844, how many Seventh-day Adventist believers have made the vital transition in their faith? How many have reset their spiritual default setting to “present truth” which shines from the most holy place? We are told “There are many precious truths contained in the Word of God, but it is "present truth" that the flock needs now” (White, 63). In fact, we are admonished to take hold of those higher and better things which are desperately needed at this time.
ENTERING THE MOST HOLY PLACE WITH JESUS
“We are not called to worship and serve God by the use of the means employed in former years. God requires higher service now than ever before. He requires the improvement of the heavenly gifts. He has brought us into a position where we need higher and better things than have ever been needed before. The slumbering Church must be aroused, awakened out of its spiritual lethargy, to a realization of the important duties which have been left undone. The people have not entered into the holy place, where Jesus has gone to make an atonement for His children” (White, Review and Herald, Feb 25, 1890).
The preceding passage shows us how we can access those higher and better things that are needed now. We need to follow Jesus to where He went after 1844.
Sadly, when the call came to the church in 1888 to change their default setting in order to receive those higher and better things, a contrary directive came from some of the main church leaders to “Stand by the landmarks; stand by the landmarks.” As self-satisfied Laodiceans, they felt no need to make a change in their experience or preaching, which had become as dry as the hills of Gilboa.
Their attitude is described in Testimonies Volume 5, 101: “The people to whom God has entrusted the sacred, solemn, testing truths for this time are sleeping at their post. They say by their actions: We have the truth; we are "rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;" while the True Witness declares: Thou "knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. With what fidelity do these words portray the present condition of the church: "Knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." Messages of warning, dictated by the Holy Spirit, are borne by the servants of God, defects of character are presented before the erring; but they say: "That does not represent my case. I do not accept the message you bring. I am doing the best I can. I believe the truth.”
BLOTTING OUT OF SINS AND BEING FILLED WITH CHRIST’S RIGHTEOUSNESS – THIS IS PRESENT TRUTH FOR THE END DAYS
Yet, has the attitude in our church changed during the 100 or more years since Minneapolis? Do we sense our need? Is our faith and attention centered in the most holy place where Jesus is ministering on our behalf at this very hour? What do we talk about in our spiritual conversations? We hear much talking about receiving forgiveness and being covered with Christ’s imputed righteousness. And that is “precious truth” which we need to cherish during probationary time. But how often do we hear any mention of the ‘blotting out of sins’ and being ‘filled with Christ’s righteousness’? That is “present truth” for this end time.
We hear about daily justification to make up our deficiencies and give us a ‘standing’ of perfection before God. That also is precious truth that we need at the present time. But do we ever hear about justification, full and complete, which is bestowed from the most holy place by which we attain to a ‘state’ of perfection where there are no more deficiencies to be made up? And there are some commendable sermons and exhortations given to urge us to advance in our sanctification experience and to put away every sin and besetment. And that is certainly needful at the present time. But will that bring us to a full preparation for the close of probation and the second coming? We can learn much from the experience of the early Advent believers as they approached October 22 in 1844 when they expected Christ to come.
We read in Early Writings “A spirit of solemn and earnest prayer was everywhere felt by the saints. A holy solemnity was resting upon them . . . God's people were then accepted of Him. Jesus looked upon them with pleasure, for His image was reflected in them. They had made a full sacrifice, an entire consecration, and expected to be changed to immortality. But they were destined again to be sadly disappointed” (White, 239).
These sincere people had attained to a high state of sanctification. They had made a full sacrifice, and entire consecration. But they were not yet ready for Christ to come. On page 243 we are told the reason they were not ready. It wasn’t because they were not sanctified or victorious over sin in their lives.
“Said my accompanying angel, "They are again disappointed in their expectations. Jesus cannot yet come to earth. They must endure greater trials for His sake. They must give up errors and traditions received from men and turn wholly to God and His Word. They must be purified, made white, and tried. Those who endure that bitter trial will obtain an eternal victory” (White, 243).
These believers needed more light to see their hidden errors and faults. They needed a further work of purification. They needed those higher and better things that are bestowed from the most holy place before they could stand without a mediator and be translated at Christ’s coming. They needed the blotting out of sins, the taking away of the filthy garments and the infilling of the fullness of the Holy Spirit before they could be without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.
Have we learned from the experience of the early Advent believers of 1844? They were truly living sanctified lives, not holding on to any known sin or neglecting any known duty. But there was more that they needed. In Great Controversy we read more details as to what more was needed before they would be ready for Christ’s coming. “But the people were not yet ready to meet their Lord. There was still a work of preparation to be accomplished for them. Light was to be given, directing their minds to the temple of God in Heaven; and as they should by faith follow their High Priest in his ministration there, new duties would be revealed” (White, 424).
If we continue reading on after the preceding passage, we will understand how Christ prepares His people through the purification process at the judgment. That is when Christ purifies “the sons of Levi and purges them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord and offering in righteousness.” And then it tells us that “when this work shall have been accomplished, the followers of Christ will be ready for his appearing . . . Then the church which our Lord at his coming is to receive to himself will be “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing” (White, 425).
Probationary time is about to be closed up. Christ is about to step out as mediator. God’s people are to enlighten the whole world in a very short time and gather all the faithful souls out of the world and from Babylon before Christ ceases His intercessions. Then His people are to stand after the close of probation in a state of perfection without the imputation of righteousness to make up any deficiencies. These things are above and beyond anything that God’s people before 1844 needed to understand or experience. If these things would engross the whole mind, the whole attention, as we are admonished on page118, the sermons in our churches and camp meetings, the articles in our church papers, and our conversation and communications with each other would default to dwelling much more on the special truth for this time. The default setting in our spiritual thinking and conversation would reflect the new reality.