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    28 THE ATONEMENT

    IN the long retinue of subjects with which the question of sanctuary stands so intimately connected, and in the understanding of which it exerts so controlling an influence, the doctrine of the atonement occupies a prominent place.LUJ 236.1

    It has been shown that the cleansing of the sanctuary, the investigative judgement of the saints, the blotting out, or remission, of sin, and the finishing of the mystery of God, are all one and the same thing. The additional statement can now be made that this is also the atonement.LUJ 236.2

    The frequent use of the expression that “Christ atoned for our sins upon the cross,” shows how widely the idea is entertained that the shedding of Christ’s blood in sacrifice and the making of the atonement are the same thing. But this view leads to two inevitable and most ruinous errors. Many have been driven by this doctrine to the extremes of error in opposite directions, and have spent their time in unnecessary and fruitless controversies.LUJ 236.3

    Thus, the Scriptures plainly declare that Christ died for all. Now, with the view that the death of Christ was the atonement, the conclusion is easily reached that Christ has atoned for the sins of all men. But all sins that are atoned for, are put away and blotted out, hence no condemnation can ultimately remain to any, but all will be saved. Thus this branch of the argument blossoms at once into Universalism.LUJ 236.4

    But the Scriptures just as plainly assure us that all will not be saved; that some do now, and will in the end, rest under condemnation. For these, of course, no atonement is made; and if the atonement and the death of Christ are the same thing, it follows that he did not bear the sin of the world, the sins of all men, on the cross, as John and Peter give us to understand that he did. If his death reaches no further than the atonement, he did not die for all, but only for a chosen few. On this branch of the argument we find the bitter fruit of ultra Calvinism, fore-ordination and predestination in their most forbidding and unscriptural aspect.LUJ 237.1

    The subject of the sanctuary relieves us from the false claims of both these errors. The trouble in either case lies in the premise common to both, which is defective; and with a false premise, however sound the reasoning based upon it, it is impossible to reach a correct conclusion. the death of Christ and the atonement are not the same thing. And this relieves the matter of all difficulty. Christ did not make the atonement when he shed his blood upon the cross. Let this fact be fixed forever in the mind. This is not denying the atonement, which is the world’s hope, but only adjusting it to its proper place, where it will not conflict with other great truths of the Bible.LUJ 237.2

    But does it not say that he bore our sins in his own body on the tree? And as he died for all, did he not thus bear the sins of all? - He did, indeed; but in what sense? What office was he fulfilling in the shedding of his blood? For light on this, we turn again to the types. The idea and doctrine of the atonement are drawn from the typical system.LUJ 237.3

    In the type, before the atonement was reached, and its benefits secured, several steps were necessary: (1) It was necessary for the penitent to make confession of sin upon the head of his offering; (2) the blood of the offering which was brought had then to be shed; (3) the priest then took that blood and performed a ministry with it, at the altar or in the sanctuary. And this work was performed three hundred and sixty-four days in the year before the day of atonement came. The work of atonement was the last ceremony of the year, and completed the round of sanctuary service. The offering and the service of the priest preceded the atonement. The offering was not the atonement; the service of the priest was not the atonement, so long as he ministered in the holy place; no complete atonement was made until the day of atonement arrived, and the yearly service appointed for the most holy place of the sanctuary was accomplished in that apartment.LUJ 238.1

    The parallel between the earthly and the heavenly sanctuary has been sufficiently drawn to make at once the application. The antitypical atonement, which is the real removal of sin, was not made when the offering for this dispensation was provided, not by the service of the priest in the first apartment of the sanctuary; but is accomplished only by the service of the priest in the most holy place, which is the closing work of our Lord’s ministration, the cleansing of the sanctuary, a branch of the work which did not commence, as we have seen, till 1844.LUJ 238.2

    In this case, as in the type, the offering and the usual priestly work precede the atonement. But when Christ suffered for us, in what capacity was he acting? - Not as our priest, but only as the offering; for he was put to death by wicked hands, even as the victims of old were slain by the sinner. It was as the sacrifice and offering that he bore our sins in his body on the tree. Here the blood was provided with which he was to minister. This was an act preparatory to the priestly work he was to perform in the true sanctuary above; the atonement is the last service he renders as priest. Those who make the offering to be the same as the atonement, confound together events that are more than eighteen hundred years apart. The offering was general. Christ died for all the world. The sacrifice was offered to all who would accept of it. But the atonement at the close is specific; it is made only for those who see the benefits of his redeeming work, by “repentance toward the God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Acts 20:21.LUJ 238.3

    In reference to such texts as Hebrews 1:3, 7, 27; and 9:12, 14, 26, it is only necessary to say that when Christ shed his blood on the cross, he “purged” the sins of men, and “perfected” and “sanctified” them, in the sense that he there and then made universal provision whereby all this might be done for all those who might wish to have it done for them, and would manifest that wish by coming to him. He “offered himself” in the sense of voluntarily yielding himself up to die for the world. And it is also to be remembered that Christ after his crucifixion was raised from the dead, and made a priest. He is, therefore, both offering and priest; and as a priest he presents his own blood, and pleads his own sacrifice, before the Father. Could any arrangement be more striking and beautiful, and tend more powerfully to show how efficient his priesthood must be in behalf of men? But on the cross (allow it to be repeated), bearing the sin of the world, and pouring out his blood for sinful men, he was not acting as priest. His priesthood had not then begun; and besides, it was no part of the priest’s work to present the offering; the sinner did that. So wicked men crucified the Lord of glory. And though they did it not with penitence and faith, but with Satanic malignity and cruelty, this is one of the instances in which God overrules the wrath of man to praise him. Satan and evil men thought that they were destroying and putting out of the way one whom they hated. And when their act was done, lo! it was found that the great offering had been made for the world, to whom, and through whom, millions upon millions would come in penitence and faith, and find glad forgiveness of all their sins.LUJ 239.1

    It is not the place here to introduce a dissertation on the subject of the atonement, to show the philosophy, the reasonableness, and justice of that glorious plan. The subject is mentioned in this connection simply to show that the great sanctuary question locates the atonement, and guards us against the error of confounding the offering with the atonement, and placing the atonement at the commencement of Christ’s ministry, instead of at its close. And thus we are shielded against the errors of Universalism and Calvinism, as noticed above.LUJ 240.1

    But does not Peter say, Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:39)? and if sins are remitted in the act of baptism, how can we look forward to a future time for the atonement and remission? So some investigative minds may query. But the text does not say that sins are remitted in baptism. It is only for, or “in order to,” remission that this rite is performed; for it is only through the shedding of blood that remission is actually obtained. Baptism, therefore, only looks forward to a future time, when all the requirements of God having been complied with in faith, sins will be blotted out by the blood of Christ, and the times of refreshing come from the presence of the Lord. Acts 3:19.LUJ 240.2

    It may be asked again if Romans 5:11 does not say that we have already received the atonement. The word katallage, there rendered “atonement,” should be rendered “reconciliation,” as in the margin. Reconciliation is effected between ourselves and God, through our repentance and the intercession of our great High Priest above; but the atonement, or the removing of sins so that they can be remembered no more against us, is the last act of priestly service performed by the Lord for us.LUJ 240.3

    But are not our sins forgiven now? and, if forgiven, are they not put away? The answer is found in the distinction already noticed. “Forgiving sin” and “blotting out sin” are not the same. Forgiveness is conditional; the condition being that we comply with certain requirements upon which it is suspended, till the end of our probation. If we fail, we stand at the last unforgiven, and no atonement can be made for us. The same may be said of every case where the word “atonement” is used as applying in the present tense (as frequently in Leviticus) before the great day of atonement; they were all conditional: everything depended on being accepted when the general atonement was made at the close of the yearly service. The prophet Ezekiel clearly states the Bible doctrine on this point, and our Saviour gives a parable, enforcing it by a most impressive illustration.LUJ 241.1

    The Doctrine. - Ezekiel 18:26: “When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done, shall he die. In chapter 33:13, it is added, “All his righteousness shall not be remembered.” That is, he shall be treated as though he had never been righteous. But the righteousness of the righteous is by faith; therefore, if he turn, and commit iniquity, he shall be treated as if he never had had faith; the forgiveness, conditionally extended, is withdrawn.LUJ 241.2

    Christ’s Illustration. - Matthew 18:21-35. We will not take space to quote the whole parable, but simply epitomize the facts: A king had a servant who owed him an enormous sum of money; but, having nothing wherewith to pay, his lord forgave him the debt; but this same servant had a fellow servant who owed him a small sum, and, having nothing with which to pay, asked to be forgiven the debt. But his fellow servant would not, but cast him into prison till he should pay all. His lord, hearing of it, immediately withdrew his own offer, and delivered the unmerciful debtor over to the officers till he should pay all that was due. Christ puts the fearful point to the illustration by adding, “So likewise shall my Heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” This plainly illustrates the conditional nature of forgiveness, and shows how past forgiveness may be nullified by present or future sin.LUJ 242.1

    How, then, if the atonement is yet future, do we receive of its benefits? How are we justified? In reply, let another question be asked: How, if the atonement was made on the cross, did those who lived before that time secure its benefits? And just as the people of God who lived and died before Christ could receive the benefits of the atonement if it was made on the cross, just so both they and we can receive its benefits, if it is deferred to be the closing work of this dispensation. It is by faith. The patriarchs were justified by faith, and so died. So with the righteous ever since that day. All their lifework, their acts of faith, stand faithfully written out in the heavenly books of record. The time comes for the investigative judgment, for the last division of Christ’s work as priest, for the sanctuary to be cleansed, for sins to be blotted out, for the atonement to be made. The books are opened. Every case is examined. Then the sins of those whose record shows in their lives acts of repentance, faith, and obedience, and who close up their account in this condition, are atoned for, or blotted out.LUJ 242.2

    And this work of examination began at the end of the 2300 days, in 1844. It opened with the scene described in Daniel 7:9, 10. In this scene the Ancient of Days sits as Judge. Christ is the great High Priest. “Ten thousand times ten thousand” (a hundred million) of heavenly assistants engage in this work. “The judgment was set and the books were opened.” Such is the scene of overwhelming glory and solemnity that has been going on in the heavenly world in reference to the human family since the ending of the days.LUJ 243.1

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