The Truth About Seventh-day Adventists


by William H. Branson  


MR. CANRIGHT strenuously objects, in chapter 7 of his book, to the teaching of the Seventh-day Adventists regarding the judgment and the cleansing of the sanctuary. He brands it as fanaticism, and holds it up to public ridicule. As in his treatment of many other subjects, he freely misstates the Seventh day Adventist position, and confuses the issue in the mind of the reader by making false charges against some of the former leaders of that church. He says in his first paragraph that this is an important issue, and urges his readers to study into it carefully.

In order to aid in the careful study of this subject, we present in the following pages a brief statement of the teachings of the Seventh-day Adventists on the subject of the cleansing of the sanctuary and its relation to the judgment and the law of God.


In the Bible two sanctuaries of God are spoken of. One is called the earthly tabernacle, one the heavenly. One was built by Moses in the wilderness, and the other was built by God in heaven. One was only a type; the other, the antitype, or true tabernacle. The services of the tabernacle on earth were performed by the members of the Aaronic priesthood; those of the heavenly, by Jesus Christ, who is our High Priest. (Hebrews 8:1, 2.) In the earthly sanctuary the blood of animals was offered daily as a type of the sacrifice of Christ, who had promised to become the sinner's substitute. In the heavenly Jesus presents His own blood as the sacrificial atonement for the sins of His people.

Of the earthly tabernacle the Lord said to Moses:

Let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall you make it.

And thou shall put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee. And thou shall put the mercy scat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shall put the testimony that I shall give thee. And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel. Exodus 25:8,9,16,21,22.

And after carefully instructing Moses how to make certain other furnishings, such as altars, table, candlestick, etc., he added: Look that thou make them after their pattern, which was showed thee in the mount. Verse 40. Of the heavenly sanctuary we read:

Now of the things which we have spoken ,  this is the sum: We have such an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this Man have somewhat also to offer. For if He were on earth, He should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, says He, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount. Hebrews 8:1-5.

Thus it is clearly revealed that there were two sanctuaries: an earthly (or, as rendered in Hebrews 9:1, A.R.V., a sanctuary of the world), and a heavenly. The 19 sanctuary of the world was a type of the heavenly, and its services were only the example and shadow of heavenly things. The heavenly is the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. The high priests in the earthly sanctuary offered gifts and sacrifices, and it was necessary that Christ, the Priest of the heavenly sanctuary, have somewhat also to offer.

The sanctuary of this world, with its typical services, was only a temporary arrangement made by God, by which to teach the people the great fundamental truth of the gospel; i.e., that remission of sins is essential to eternal life, and can be secured only through the shed blood of the Lamb of God, who would die as a ransom for men, and whose death was typified by the blood of animals. This temporary typical arrangement was to continue only until the death of Jesus, after which time it would have no further meaning, since it was simply a shadow of the cross. Thus we read:

The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. But Christ being come a High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 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? Hebrews 9:8-14.

Here we see that Paul refers to the sanctuary in the wilderness as the first tabernacle. Hence there must have been a second. The first was a figure for the time then present. Its service was imposed on them until the time of reformation - the opening of the gospel dispensation. Christ is stated to be a High Priest of . . . a greater and more perfect tabernacle. He ministers not the blood of goats and calves, but His own blood.

Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary (Hebrews 9:1), but Christ is a minister of a more perfect tabernacle. Verse 11. From the foregoing scriptures there can be no question that the Bible clearly reveals two distinct sanctuaries of God, one of which is the true, and of which the other was a type, or shadow.


Some maintain that all heaven is the sanctuary, but that teaching clearly contradicts the plain statements of Scripture. Paul speaks of the second as a heavenly sanctuary, but that does not mean that it is heaven itself. Heaven is not the sanctuary, but the sanctuary is in heaven. This is very definitely revealed in Revelation 11:19, which says, The temple of God was opened in heaven. John does not say heaven was opened, but that the temple of God was opened in heaven. This temple is the sanctuary, for there was seen in it the ark of the testament, In Hebrews 9:23 it is very definitely stated that the earthly sanctuary was a pattern of things in the heavens not a pattern of heaven, but of things in the heavens. The heavenly sanctuary, therefore, is located in heaven, and is called the true and more perfect tabernacle, as compared with the one that was on earth.

A study of the heavenly sanctuary shows us that it is furnished in the same way as was the earthly. In Revelation 1:12 John speaks of seeing the candlesticks in the heavenly sanctuary; in Revelation 11:19 he sees the ark of the testimony; and in Revelation 8:3 he sees the altar of incense and the golden censer. In Hebrews 8:4,5, we are told that the earthly sanctuary was built after a pattern, and that it was a shadow of heavenly things. If that is true, then the shadow that was on the earth MUST of necessity reveal what is in heaven; in essential arrangements the two must be the same. Also the typical services performed in the earthly must find their antitype in the heavenly. In this way only could the earthly be a shadow of the heavenly.


The earthly sanctuary was divided into two apartments the holy place and the most holy. At the entrance to the first apartment, or room, was a linen veil or curtain. Between the two apartments or rooms was a second veil, separating the first apartment, or holy place, from the second, or most holy place; as it is written: The veil shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy. Exodus 26:33.

This division of the sanctuary into two apartments wag absolutely essential for the performance of the typical service. The respective work performed in the two had a very different meaning. The service in the first apartment typified the bringing of confessed sins into the sanctuary, while that of the second apartment had to do with their removal. Without the service in the first apartment the service in the second would have no meaning. If the sins of the people were not first brought into the sanctuary through the daily ministration, there could of course be no cleansing or removal of sins on the Day of Atonement.

Now since the earthly sanctuary was a shadow cast by the heavenly, and since in the earthly there were two apartments, there must necessarily be two apartments in the heavenly. A single shaft, with one source of light, cannot cast a double shadow. Just so a sanctuary in heaven having only one room, could never cast a shadow upon earth with two. And further, a heavenly sanctuary in which the priestly service was performed in only one room, could not be typified by the service of a sanctuary with two rooms, where the services of the respective rooms had an altogether different meaning. If in the heavenly there be no first apartment service, then the entire typical service of the first apartment had no meaning, and finds no antitype in the work of our High Priest in heaven. Such a conclusion is unthinkable. It would destroy with one stroke the significance of the entire typical service.

In Hebrews 9:8 we learn that there was no priestly service performed in the heavenly sanctuary until the earthly had come to its close: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing. Christ therefore was not ministering in the heavenly sanctuary before He came to the earth. The services in the earthly had to come to a close, and the priesthood had to be changed from the sons of Aaron to Christ, before the way was open for services to begin in the sanctuary in heaven.

The offering of animals in the earthly sanctuary was an expression of faith on the part of the people that Jesus, the Lamb of God, would come and die to redeem them from sin. Therefore, the moment Jesus died on the cross the shadow met the substance, and the typical service lost its meaning. From that time on, that service could no longer point forward to the death of Christ.

The death of Jesus took place at the hour of the evening sacrifice, and in Jerusalem the priest was busy with this service. The lamb for the evening offering had been brought, but just at that moment Jesus expired on the cross and the veil of the temple was rent in twain. Thus God indicated that the glory of His presence had departed from the earthly temple, and that the efficacy of the types and shadows had suddenly come to an end.

Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross; and having. spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. Colossians 2:14-17.

Thus the law of the earthly priesthood, the law of the meat offerings and drink offerings, the law concerning yearly Sabbaths and holy days, with the whole typical service, was nailed to the cross. When the nails pierced the hands and feet of Jesus and His blood flowed, the blood of the sacrificial lamb had no further meaning. The time had come of which Jesus spoke to the woman of Samaria at the well when He said, The hour comes, when you shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. John 4:21. They could worship God now by going straight to Jesus, their Advocate and High Priest, for the way into the heavenly sanctuary was made manifest. He had taken away the first that He might establish the second. (See Hebrews 10:8, 9.)


Christ was not a priest before He came to the earth. Therefore He was not performing a priestly service in the heavenly sanctuary before that time. His priesthood could not begin until the priesthood of Aaron had closed. It was this changing of the priesthood that made necessary the abolition of the ceremonial law which governed the priestly ministry. For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. Hebrews 7:12.

Before Christ could serve as priest, it was necessary that He should have an offering to present to God. Said the apostle: Every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this Man have somewhat also to offer. Hebrews 8:1 Christ shed His blood that He might have something to offer. The earthly priest offered the blood of animals, but He came not to offer the blood of bulls and goats and lambs, but to offer His own blood; therefore His priestly service could not begin until after His blood had been shed.

Paul very definitely tells us that the earthly priests were taken from among the people whom they were to serve, in order that they might have compassion on the people and understand their infirmities. Every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he 'May offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself is compassed with infirmity. Hebrews 5:1, 2.

Thus the priests were not brought in from some distant part of the world, from some nation which did not understand the needs and sufferings of the people whom they would serve, but they were taken from among their brethren. Paul tells us that this was true also of Christ. Before He could serve as a priest on man's behalf, He must Himself become a man. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted. Hebrews 2:14-18.

We have not a High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our' infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:15, 16.

Thus in all things He was made like His brethren. Why? That He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest. Therefore, Christ was not a priest until after He had become man and had suffered on man's behalf.

Why do we emphasize this point? For the reason that this shows conclusively that all the priestly work of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary has had to be performed since the cross. None of it was done before He came to earth. In the earthly sanctuary the priest served in the first apartment and then in the second apartment, and the service was an example, or type, of the service of Christ. Therefore Christ must serve in both the first and second apartments of the heavenly sanctuary, and His service in both these apartments must come after the cross. The priest served first in the first apartment. Therefore, if the types mean anything to us, they show that when Christ went to heaven as a priest, He began His service in the first apartment, whereas His ministry in the second apartment was to come at a subsequent time.

Now the work in the first apartment of the earthly sanctuary required a much longer period than the work in the second. Day by day throughout the year the priest ministered in the holy place, and one day in the year he ministered in the most holy. So if we follow that in the antitype in heaven, we conclude that it was necessary that Christ should go first into the first apartment, and that He should serve a much longer period there than He would afterward serve in the most holy place.


Some argue that the types of Christ's priestly ministry are to be found not in the Levitical priesthood but in the Melchizedec priesthood. But we inquire, Where is the record of Melchizedec's priestly ministry? What kind of sacrifices did he offer? What was the order of the services performed? If the types are to be found in his priestly service, it is important that we understand them, in order that we may also understand the work of Christ, the antitype. But we find no record of the priestly ministry of Melchizedec.

We find no shedding of blood, no offering of sacrifices, no work of atonement. But we do find all this set forth in the work of the Levitical priests. In their ministry every detail of the work of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary is clearly taught. If we reject the Levitical priesthood, we are left entirely without a typical ministration. If we accept it, we have a typical service which teaches every principle essential to the plan of redemption.

We are left in no uncertainty on this important point. In speaking of Christ, Paul declares: If He were on earth, He should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things. Hebrews 8:4,5. Thus it is the service of the priests who served under the law that is to be taken as an example of the work of Christ in heaven. These were the Levites. They were designated as priests by the law of Moses. Their gifts were offered according to the law that governed the ceremonial service, and here Paul definitely declares their service to be the example and shadow of heavenly things. The types of Christ in His priestly service are found only in them.

But in what respect, then, was Christ a priest after the order of Melchizedec? (Hebrews 7:21.) Just this: Melchizedec was not a priest under the law of Moses. He did not become a priest by inheritance. He was without father, without mother, and without descent (margin, pedigree) (Hebrews 7:3) ; that is, he could not trace his genealogy to the tribe of Levi, and thus prove that he was a priest by inheritance. The sons of Aaron were priests because their father was priest. It was an inheritance. But Melchizedec became a priest in another way. Just so it was with Christ. He was not of the tribe of Levi but sprang out of Judah. By the law He had no inheritance in the priestly ministry. He was without priestly parentage or pedigree.

He of whom these things are spoken pertains to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah; of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there arises another Priest, who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. Hebrews 7:13-16.

Jesus was made a priest by an oath of God, for. the Scripture says, Not without an oath He was made priest. Hebrews 7:20. It was this change that made necessary a change of the law which designated that the Levites should be the priests; for the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law; for the law makes men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, makes the Son, who is consecrated for evermore. Hebrews 7:12, 28. In this respect therefore Christ was a priest after the order of Melchizedec, but the types of Christ's ministration in His capacity as High Priest are found only in the Levitical service.

In view of these considerations we must therefore urge again that since the earthly priest performed his first service in the first apartment of the sanctuary, which consumed the greater part of his time and labor, so must Christ begin His ministry in the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary, and continue there a much longer period than that required for His service in the second. And since the service of the earthly priests in the most holy place came at the end of the yearly round, so must Christ's work in the second apartment come at the close of His priestly ministry, and not at the beginning. He could not therefore, upon His ascension to heaven, have entered immediately upon His work in the most holy place, for His work in the first apartment had not yet been performed.


Someone may say, Did not Christ go immediately within the veil? Certainly He did. This is clearly stated in Hebrews 6:19, 20: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters into that within the veil; whither the Forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made a High Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

But does this prove that He went immediately into the most holy place? If there were only one veil in the sanctuary, then it might seem to indicate that He did, but there were two veils. In Hebrews 9:3, Paul says distinctly that there is a second veil. After the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the holiest of all. The fact that there were two veils is also clearly set forth in Exodus 26:31-36:

Thou shall make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubim shall it be made: and thou shall hang it upon four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, upon the four sockets of silver. And thou shall hang up the vail under the taches, that thou may bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy. And thou shall put the mercy seat upon the ark of the testimony in the most holy place. And thou shall set the table without the vail, and the candlestick over against the table on the side of the tabernacle toward the south: and thou shall put the table on the north side. And thou shall make a hanging for the door of the tent, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework,

One of these cloth hangings was at the entrance to the first apartment, and the other served as a dividing veil between the two rooms. When Paul refers to the dividing veil, he calls it the second veil; but when he refers to the first veil, he just says the veil. Therefore, when he declared that Christ had gone within the veil, he of course meant into the first apartment, beyond the first veil. He did not say He had gone through two veils, nor did he say He had gone within the second veil. Therefore, when Christ went to heaven and passed within the veil, it was to begin His ministry in the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary.

John tells us very definitely in Revelation 1:12,13 that he saw Christ ministering in the place where the golden candlesticks are: I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. The candlesticks were in the first apartment and it is here that John declares that Christ was serving at the time he saw Him in vision.


In Hebrews 8:1 we are told that our High Priest is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens. Some argue that this constitutes evidence that Christ went immediately into the most holy place, since it is presumed that the throne of God is there, and that it corresponds to the ark of the earthly sanctuary. But we do not find that the ark is called God's throne, but find very clear indications that the throne of God is movable, that it moves about from place to place as need requires, being conveyed by living creatures who are capable of moving about with the swiftness of lightning. (See Ezekiel l.)

We also know that the throne of God must be movable from what Daniel tells us in chapter 7:9, 10, of his prophecy. Here he describes the beginning of the work of judgment. He says: I beheld until the thrones were placed [margin], and the Ancient of days did sit. This indicates that God would move His throne when the time should come. for the opening of the judgment. In Revelation 4:2, 5, it is recorded that John saw the throne in the first apartment of the sanctuary, for he says he beheld it in the place where the seven lamps were.

Thus it seems that the throne of God moves about whither God wishes to go, and therefore, wherever God is, the throne is present. He is not limited to one little corner. As King Solomon said in his prayer to God when he dedicated the temple in Jerusalem: Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee; how much less this house that I have built. 1 Kings 8:27. When we are told, therefore, that Christ sat down on the throne at the time of His ascension, that should not be taken to mean that He went at that time into the most holy place of the sanctuary; for we learn from a careful study of the sure word of prophecy that God did not occupy the throne in the most holy place of the sanctuary until the time came for the opening of the judgment in 1844.


What was the work of Christ in the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary? Was there anything for Him to do there? We answer: Jesus' ministry in the first apartment was to plead the merits of His righteousness and of His shed blood in behalf of sinners in the earth who had and who should yet accept Him. He had extended the invitation, Look unto Me, and be you saved, all the ends of the earth, and it was only through the ministry of His blood that He was able thus to save.

In 1 John 2:1, Jesus is said to be our advocate. In Romans 3:34, Paul states that He makes intercession for us. John the revelator sees Him in the holy place before the golden altar, offering up incense with the prayers of the saints; and Jesus Himself declared that He would confess before His Father those who confessed Him before men. (See Matthew 10:32.) This, then, was His work in the first apartment of the sanctuary. As sinners came to God for pardon and would plead the shed blood of Jesus on their behalf, Jesus became their Advocate and made intercession for them before God. He offered up their prayers with sweet incense before the Father, and pleaded that since His blood had been shed on behalf of sinners, and since these had accepted Him as their sacrifice, they might receive pardon. Yea, more, He offered to take away the guilt of their sin, and to impute to them His life of righteousness. Thus by accepting Jesus as their substitute and sacrifice, the sins of the sinners were transferred from themselves to the heavenly sanctuary, where Christ was ministering, and where the sins would remain until blotted out. in the investigative judgment.

Thus Jesus performed a continual service in the first apartment after His ascension to heaven. Just as in the earthly sanctuary the altar fires were to be kept burning continually, in, readiness to consume the sacrifices of sinners who should seek pardon, so Christ stood ready, day and night continually, to receive sinners and offer His shed blood in their behalf. His standing invitation to sinners is: Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. He gives rest by taking away their load of sin, lifting the burden entirely from their shoulders. He bears away the sins of the world.

Thus did Christ minister as High Priest in the holy place, receiving there the sins of the people who came unto God by Him. And thus the heavenly sanctuary has become defiled by the sins of men. From this defilement it requires cleansing at the close of His priestly ministry.