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    28 THE ATONEMENT

    IN the long retinue of subjects with which the question of the 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.STTHD 275.1

    We have already seen that the cleansing of the sanctuary, the investigative Judgment 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. We now make the additional statement that this is also the atonement.STTHD 275.2

    The frequency with which the expression is made that Christ atoned for our sins upon the cross, shows how widely the idea is entertained that the shedding of his blood and the atonement are the same thing. But this leads to two ultra and fundamental errors. Men have been driven by this idea to the extremes of error in opposite directions, and have spent their time in an unnecessary and fruitless warfare.STTHD 275.3

    The Scriptures plainly declare that Christ died for all. Now, with the view that the death ofSTTHD 275.4

    Christ is the atonement, the conclusion is easily reached that the sins of all have been atoned for, and hence that no condemnation can ultimately remain to any. This branch of the argument blossoms at once into Universalism.STTHD 276.1

    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 his death reaches no farther than the atonement, and hence that 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.STTHD 276.2

    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.STTHD 276.3

    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.STTHD 276.4

    To reach the atonement, several steps were necessary: 1. The confession of sin upon the head of the victim. 2. The sacrifice of the offering. 3. The work of the priest. 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, nor was the service of the priest, until the day of atonement arrived, and the work was commenced in the most holy place of the sanctuary.STTHD 277.1

    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, nor 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, and did not commence, as we have seen, till 1844.STTHD 277.2

    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; the atonement is the last. Those who make the offering to be the same as the atonement, confound together events that are more than 1800 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 seek the benefits of his redeeming work.STTHD 278.1

    It is not the place here to introduce a dissertation on the subject of the atonement. It 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 it at the commencement of Christ’s ministry, instead of at its close. And thus we are provided with a safeguard against the errors of Universalism and Calvinism above noticed.STTHD 278.2

    But does not Peter say, Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins? Acts 2:38; 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 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. It looks forward to a future time, when all the requirements of God having been complied with in faith, sins will be blotted out, and the times of refreshing come from the presence of the Lord.STTHD 279.1

    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, 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.STTHD 279.2

    But are not our sins forgiven now? and, if forgiven, are they not put away? We answer, 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 last unforgiven, and no atonement can be made for us. The doctrine on this point is stated by Ezekiel, and an illustration is given by the Saviour himself.STTHD 280.1

    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 righteousnesses 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 faith; the forgiveness, conditionally extended, is withdrawn.STTHD 280.2

    The illustration. Matthew 18:21-35. We will not take space to quote it, 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 this 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.STTHD 280.3

    How, then, if the atonement is yet future, do we receive of its benefits? How are we justified? In reply, we would ask the questioner, 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 life-work, 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 their last acts to have been acts of repentance, faith, and obedience, are atoned for, or blotted out.STTHD 281.1

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