Bible Truth about the The Sanctuary

A response to Dirk Anderson

This is a response to Dirk Anderson, a former SDA and leading critic of Ellen White and SDA church, over his attack against the Sanctuary truth. You can find his attack on the sanctuary truth as taught by the SDA here at his website: The text bolded represents his arguements. Our response is in unbolded text.

The Bible truth is that the atonement took place at Christ's ascension. This is why Paul could talk in the past tense about already receiving the atonement: We also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. (Rom. 5:11)

There is no question that Christ’s “once for all” (Hebrews 10:10) sacrificial atonement was finished and completed at the cross. But the atonement or reconciling process involves more than Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf. It also involves His work as our High priest as well. While Romans 5:11 says that “through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation [atonement]”, Hebrews 2:17 makes it clear that Christ became a “high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement [reconciliation] for the sins of the people”. Why would Jesus make atonement for the sins of the people as our high priest if the entire atonement process was completed at the cross? The answer is there is a work that Christ does in heaven on our behalf for the saving of souls following His FINISHED sactificial atonement on the cross. Therefore, to say that His sacrificial atonement was completed at his ascension is absolutely true, but to say that His reconciling work as our High priest, which is also part of the atonement process, was finished at the cross, is without basis in scriptures. It is an incomplete Bible truth.

How could Paul have received the atonement if it did not even start until 1844?

How could Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the Old Testament saints have received atonement if Christ’s sacrificial atonement was not until His death and His ascension? The fact is forgiveness was given to Jacob and the saints based upon the future event [the cross] but the promise was given in the past (Gen. 3:15). In the same way, the promise of the blotting of sin was confirmed when Jesus died on the cross, but the actual carrying out of the promise will take place when the Sanctuary is cleansed at the end of the 2300 years (Dan 8:13).

Dr. Russell Kelly describes the truth about the atonement process: When the sacrifice died as a sin offering at the entrance of the sanctuary, the payment for the confessed sin was complete. The ministering priest collected its blood which had become most holy (Lev. 4:20; 5:6; 6:7, 25-27; Numb. 18:9). The fat portions of the animal were placed on the altar of burnt offering, thus again confirming its holiness (Ex. 29:37). Depending on the circumstances, either the blood or portions of its flesh (eaten by the priest) were also brought into the sanctuary -- again making them most holy (Numb. 18:9).

Yes, when the sacrifice died as a sin offering, the payment for the confessed sin was complete. Christ paid the penalty for our sins on the cross fully and we receive that forgiveness which He “provided” (Hebrews 1:3) on the cross by faith.

Kelly makes the statement that the ministering priest collected its blood which had become most holy citing Lev. 4:20; 5:6; 6:7, 25-27; Numb. 18:9. But none of those verses say that the blood became most holy, rather, the “offering for sin” was to be a most holy offering (typified of Christ who is holy), which was to provide atonement for the sins of the people, making people “Holy” or right with the LORD – this is because sinner transferred his sins to the sin offering!

Kelly is trying hard to say holy things had no iniquity. But how could that be? Christ is called "that holy thing," (Luke 1:35) and yet He took our sins upon Him.

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. 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).

Who says blood defiles? It is sin that is transferred into the sanctuary that defiles the sanctuary. Neither Ellen White nor the Seventh-day Adventist teach that blood defiles the temple. It’s a falsehood spread by the opponents of the sanctuary message.

Here is what Ellen White says in context:

As the sins of the people were anciently transferred, in figure, to the earthly sanctuary by the blood of the sin-offering, so our sins are, in fact, transferred to the heavenly sanctuary by the blood of Christ. And as the typical cleansing of the earthly was accomplished by the removal of the sins by which it had been polluted, so the actual cleansing of the heavenly is accomplished by the removal, or blotting out, of the sins which are there recorded.

She is clear; it isn’t the blood which defiles, but the sin which the blood transfers. Why does Dirk and Kelly claim that we say the blood of Christ defiles, when Ellen White clearly says that it is the sins of the people that defiles?

The blood was not brought into the sanctuary, as Ellen White wrote, “to make satisfaction for its claims” (GC420). The Atonement had already been made and announced when the sacrificial animal's blood was shed! Even at Calvary the atonement was made when Jesus shed his blood, pronounced forgiveness, announced “it is finished” and died. ...

If anything the Sanctuary is teaching, the atonement process wasn’t finished when the animal’s blood was shed. There was more to it as illustrated by the ministry of the priest and the high priest in the sanctuary service. Hence, the full process of atonement requires more than sacrifice--confession of sin, forsaking of sin, mediation of the blood, and the final exile and death of the scapegoat. This is too plain to miss unless Christians like Kelly/Dirk want to read preconceived ideas into the sanctuary service!

Contrary to SDA theology, sacrificial blood always “cleansed” or “washed away” sin. Sacrificial blood did not transfer sin to another place (to be dealt with later) only to defile that other place -- the Most Holy Place in heaven! ...

Blood did transfer sins contrary to objections raised by Kelly. On the Day of Atonement, an atonement was made “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” (Leviticus 16:16). Now, how did these sins go the Holy place if it is not supposed to be transferred? Where did these sins come from, and how did the priest “put them” upon the scapegoat (Leviticus 16:21)?

Sin affects the heavenly sanctuary and that’s why the New Testament says plainly that it was “necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified [CLEANSED]...but the heavenly things themselves [CLEANSED] with better sacrifices" (Heb. 9:23). Our confessed sins do impact the heavenly things is the verdict of Scriptures!

As soon as the O. T. 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!

If and when the priest touched the sin offering, it transferred more HOLINESS to the priests and into the sanctuary, then how could a priest ever offer a sacrifice for himself (Lev 4:3-4: The priest was to “lay his hand upon the bullock's head, and kill the bullock before the LORD").

The holy priest was only allowed to touch, handle and work with holy things and most holy things! Exodus 28:38 explains that the priest’s ministry bore away the sin from the offering, thus making the sacrifice most holy. In fact, the death penalty awaited any priest who dared to bring anything defiled into the sanctuary (Exod. 28:43). ...

If whatever the priest touched became Holy, why did the priest have to wash his flesh after carrying out the scapegoat as well as after cleansing the sanctuary (Lev.16:24-26)? In Lev. 16:16, the holy place was unclean; in lev.16:18-19, the altars needed to be purified, so, could the priest not touch the altar, or enter the holy place?

The vicarious death of the innocent sacrificial animal allowed the priest to grant forgiveness (Rom. 3:25; Heb. 9:15). The sin had disappeared! The sin itself had been washed away! The sin itself never entered beyond the entrance of the inner court into that sanctuary itself. ...

Yes, the blood of the sacrificial lamb provided the priest the means to provide forgiveness. However, sin did not disappear until it was blotted out on the Day of Atonement: "For on that day of [atonement] the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD” . The sin itself never entered beyond the entrance of the inner court into that sanctuary itself is false as seen from the sanctuary service and the need for cleansing. The “Holy Place” needed “atonement” or reconciling according to Leviticus 16:16.

Contrary to what SDAs teach, the priest did not “bear SIN” nor did he “transfer sin” into the sanctuary. Like Christ, he typically bore the GUILT (or punishment) of sin for the sinner. The blood was “proof of payment” which was presented to God. Just as Adam was punished by thorns and sweat for his sin, even so the priest’s ministry of the sacrifices, his necessary job, his service, was also a type of punishment! The Aaronic priest was performing a ritual which had formerly been a required punishment by every male head-of-household. The priest was performing a sanctified and necessary act of reconciliation--not defilement. ...

Contrary to Kelly, the Bible teaches that the priest by eating of the flesh, bore sin and guilt that was transferred to the sacrificial lamb: “Wherefore have ye not eaten the sin offering in the holy place, seeing it is most holy, and God hath given it you to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the LORD? (Leviticus 10:17). If the priest “bore” sin and guilt, that means it was also “transferred” to him.

All sacrificial animals were types of Jesus Christ. SDAs are wrong when they teach that the daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal blood sacrifices defiled the temple while the yearly Day of Atonement blood cleaned it.

SINs not blood that defiled the sanctuary! When sins were transferred through the blood, the blood was basically "covering" sins: this is forgiveness:

Lev 4:26 "and the priest shall make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him.

Psalms 85:2 Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin.

Romans 4:7 Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.

Blood also "blots" out sins, which means to "Cleanse":

Lev. 16:30 For on that day of [atonement] the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you

Psalms 51:1,2 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

Therefore, blood "covers" us and "cleanses" us. Both are true and illustrated in the Sanctuary service!

Jermiah 18: 23 Yet, LORD, thou knowest all their counsel against me to slay me: forgive not their iniquity, neither blot out their sin from thy sight

Psalms 51:9 Hide [cover] thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.

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 (GC421).

This is silly. If I make a record of your sins, that does not make me responsible for your sin. The books of record, recorded by angels, are the objects that are to be cleansed. Kelly’s argument would have the books being cleaned even before the sins are recorded, and that is senseless.

Conclusion: There is not a single word in the New Testament indicating that Christ would move from the Holy to the Most Holy Place in 1844 or at any other point in human history.
Like Christ said in Matthew 19:4, “Haven’t you READ,” in Scriptures, we ask the opposes of 1844, haven’t you READ that:
  • God has “appointed a day” (Acts 17:31) to “judge” the world while Daniel 8:17-19 tells us that there is an “appointed” time at the “end” when the “Sanctuary is cleansed” (Daniel 8:13) 
  • Daniel 7 speaks of a judgment which follows the kingdoms of this world and the progression of Daniel 7 runs like this: Babylon = Medo-Persia = Greece = Rome = Little Horn (Papal Rome) = Judgment  
  • In the same way, Daniel 8 speaks of a “cleansing of the sanctuary” which was to come after the kingdoms of this world and the progression runs likes this: Medo-Persia = Greece = Little Horn (Pagan/papal Rome) = Sanctuary cleansed in 2300 days 
  • God appears on the Mercy Seat on the Day of Judgment in Lev. 16:2 while the Ancient of Days takes his Seat for judgment in Daniel 7:9,10. 
  • High Priest moves into the Most Holy in a cloud in Lev. 16:13 while Jesus our High Priest MOVED with a cloud into the presence of the Ancient of days in Daniel 7:13. Here’s the place where Christ moved from one place to another. The context, which is judgment and books opened after the reign of the little horn power (538-1798) makes it clear that this was not at the ascension! 
  • A Ram and a Goat is involved on the day the earthly sanctuary was cleansed (Lev. 16:5) while Daniel 8 begins with a Ram and a Goat (Daniel 8:3-5), when the sanctuary at the end at an “appointed” time is to be cleansed! 
  • Revelation (New Testament) is clear about both holy place and most holy place ministries (See Rev. 1:12,13; 4:5; 8:3-5; 11:19) 
  • Heb. 8:5 says the earthly, which had two apartments, was a copy and shadow of the heavenly. In the Old Testament, sin was transferred into the sanctuary. Lev. 16 is clear that the Day of Atonement was to cleanse the sanctuary.  
  • Hebrew 9 describes both holy place and most holy place. Heb. 6 describes Jesus entering the veil, which was the first one. Heb. 9 talks about the "second veil." There are two!

On the contrary, 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:

Christ came as a High Priest to His temple (Heb. 9:11).  So? The earthly, which had two apartments, was a copy and shadow of the heavenly!

He entered by His own blood (Heb. 9:12).  So? His blood "covers" (Psalms 32:1) our sins and cleanses us (1 John 1:7) from sin.

He purified the heavenly copies with His blood (Heb. 9:23).

Hebrews 9:23 does not state that he “purified” the heavenly sanctuary with better things than these, Its states this: “ It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.” TO make this a past tense statement is to twist the text. The text says nothing of when or if this was done, rather it must be done with better sacrifices than the earthly. In light of this text, and his own admission that the “heavenly copies” were “purified”, I would ask Kelly/Dirk, from what did the heavenly things need cleansing from? And how did they get “defiled”? What defiled the heavenly sanctuary? The word "purified" in this verse is used 33 times, and all times it means to cleanse from sin, leprosy, uncleanness. So why did the heavenly things need "cleansing"?

Hebrews 9:23 is really one of the best New Testament evidences that in fact a future cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary is anticipated.  Paul, of course, doesn't speak much about the Most Holy Place in Hebrews 9, and this is for a reason.  Verse 5 of chapter, speaking of the Most Holy Place, says: "of which we cannot now speak particularly."  This is because the Most Holy Place ministry of Jesus was still in the future.

He appeared in the Most Holy Place before the presence of God (Heb. 9:24).

No contradiction here. The Father is omnipresent. Jesus and the Father have always been together in the heavenly sanctuary; the only reason the presence of God was confined in the earthly temple was due to the problem of sinful man. That problem doesn't exist in heaven.

His blood cleansed His people from their sin (Heb. 9:14).  

No, “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?” (Hebrew 9:14).
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!

What is Christ doing seated at the right hand of God?

“Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Rom. 8:34).

Christ is now interceding for us positioned at the right hand of God. The Bible says the work of intercession is to protect us from condemnation – that means to ultimately to justify us. But when is such a final declaration of justification is to take place?

“I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified (Isaiah 43:25,26).

When sins are blotted out, Jesus will declare the reality of our justification, which is for us, is now by faith! Jesus is yet to utter these words in Revelation 22:11, "He that is JUST, let him be JUSTIFIED still". Surely, His work of intercession and justification is a part of His saving work and that wasn’t finished at the cross. That's why Romans 4:25, say it was important not only for him to die for us but also for Him to be "raised again for our justification".

QUESTION: Ellen White says in her 1884 version of Great Controversy: "As the sins of the people were anciently transferred in figure, to the earthly sanctuary by the blood of the sin offering, so our sins are, in fact, transferred the heavenly sanctuary by the blood of Christ." Don't confessed sins defile the heavenly sanctuary? Doesn't it have to be cleansed from all of the sins that are accumulating there?

ANSWER: As E.S. Ballenger so eloquently put it: The Bible presents the blood of Christ as the cleansing medium for sin. It is never represented as defiling in any sense. To teach that the blood of Christ defiled the heavenly sanctuary is a close kin to blasphemy.

There is a reason that Ballenger quoted such a small portion of the paragraph. If he had quoted more, his accusations would have sounded so hollow (we have quoted the entire sentence in context above in our response).

What is the purpose of an investigative judgement?

The guilt of our sin is blotted out at the moment of confession because Jesus bore it on the cross. This is what forgiveness is all about. (1 John 1:9; Eph. 1:7). But the record of the pardoned sin is retained to be examined in the pre-advent, investigative judgment. That's the message of Daniel 7:9-14. "The court was seated, and the books were opened" (Dan. 7:10). At the end of the judgment those who are protected in the time of trouble are those whose names "are found written in the book" (Dan. 12:1). That book is the book of life. The names of believers are in the book of life now (luke 10:20; Phil. 4:3; Heb. 12:22, 23). In the pre-advent, investigative judgment, the names of those who are found in possession of the righteousness of Jesus are retained in the book of life. Names of those not clothed with the righteousness of Christ are removed from the book of life. "He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels" (Rev. 3:5). That means that the person who is not clothed with the garment of Christ's righteousness will have his name removed from the book of life, and he will be lost. Hence, the purpose of the pre-advent, investigative judgment is to edit the book of life.

And of course, the Investigative Judgment is not for God (He knows who are his), it is for the angels. And it is not to show the angels who will be saved. It is to show the angels and the rest of his creation that God has been indeed just in his judgments. Hence, the mention of angels in Rev 3:5 and Daniel 7, etc. 1 Cor. 4:9 clearly states that, “We are made a spectacle [theater] unto the world, and to angels, and to men”.

See aslo: