by E.H. “Jack” Sequeira
We have been looking at the sanctuary message as the gospel in type. We saw that the sanctuary is God’s model plan of redemption realized in Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Now we want to study another important aspect of the sanctuary message and that is our human response. The Bible, and especially the New Testament, does not only equate the sanctuary with Christ, but it also identifies the sanctuary with the believers and the church. We read in 1 Corinthians 3:16:
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?
Also, 2 Corinthians 6:16 says:
What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
Notice that the Bible is clear that not only is Christ the sanctuary but we as His people are part of the sanctuary.
In Ephesians 2:19, Paul is telling the Gentile believers that they are no longer strangers separated from God but they have become part of the fellow citizens of faith, that is the Jews and the household of God:
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,....
In other words, the Jews and the Gentile believers are now one. Verses 20-22:
...built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Then in 1 Peter 2:5:
...You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
We have already seen that within the courtyard of the sanctuary is the “in Christ motif.” Everything necessary and essential for our salvation now and in the judgment has already been provided and made available for sinful man. But because God is love and because God has created us as free moral beings, this wonderful gospel of salvation has to be made effective. Since God has made us free moral beings, we have to enter into Christ. We have to receive Him for that salvation to be effective and to be real in our experience.
Paul in Romans 5:17, the first half of the verse, speaks of our position in Adam and notice that it is a natural position. It is something that we inherit because we are a part of the family of Adam. He says in Romans 5:17:
For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
Remember that we have to receive. Jesus said as recorded in Matthew 11:28:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
In John 10:9, Jesus says:
I am the gate [He identifies Himself with the door or gate on the eastern side of the courtyard.]; whoever enters through me will be saved [not “may” be but “will” be]. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.
We will have peace, we will have assurance, but we have to enter in.
Now the question is, “How do we enter into Christ?” The answer is found in the Great Commission that Jesus gave to the disciples in Mark 16:15-16:
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation....”
Go tell the world the truth as it is in Christ. Verse 16:
“...Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
Man is lost not because he is bad but because he deliberately and willfully refuses to enter into that sanctuary. For the moment he enters in, the righteousness of Christ engulfs him. Outside the courtyard, we are still lost sinners, even though — in Christ — the whole world is redeemed. But inside the courtyard, inside Christ, we stand as redeemed sinners. That is the difference. Jesus says in John 5:24:
“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”
There are two words we need to understand: “faith” and “baptism.” This is our human response. “Faith” is our heart response or obedience to the gospel. “Baptism” is our public confession of that heart response. They are linked together.
Let us look at the meaning of faith. What did Jesus mean when He said, “Whoever believes ... will be saved”? There is much confusion concerning this word “faith.” There is confusion in the Christian Church and there is confusion in Adventism as to the true meaning of New Testament faith. I believe that is why we have so many perplexities in our churches. A letter from the pastor of one of our large churches to the membership of his church reveals that, out of 1,032 families, 558 families — that is, 54 percent — have no involvement in supporting their own local church. This is not speaking of tithe but just the support of their own local church. It is not because we are having financial and economic problems.
In Acts chapter four, we see how the first Christian church thrived. It understood the gospel and it understood faith. I believe that, if we understood the gospel and faith, we would have more money than we need. We would be able to clear our debts and have money to run programs that we now cannot run because of the lack of funds. We need to understand the New Testament concept of faith.
New Testament saving faith involves three things:
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
That is how the Greek puts it.
Let us take them step by step. First we must know the gospel. In John 8:32, Jesus is talking to the Jews and He makes this statement:
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
You have to know the truth. What did Jesus mean by the word “truth”? I have a minister friend who tried a different approach in conducting an evangelistic effort. One dear elder came up to him after the fourth meeting and said: “When are you going to preach the truth?” “I have been preaching the truth for the last four days,” replied the pastor. The pastor was preaching Christ, but the elder said, “I don’t mean that.” “Then what do you mean?” asked the pastor. “I mean the Sabbath and the law.” Let Jesus define what He meant by “the truth” in John 8:36:
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
We need to distinguish between the gospel and the fruits of the gospel. If I stand up in a public hall and preach the second coming of Christ, am I preaching the gospel? Is the second coming of Christ “good news” to all men? No. The second coming of Christ is good news only to the believer. It is bad news to the unbeliever. If you don’t believe me, read Revelation, the sixth chapter.
If you want the second coming of Christ to be good news to everybody, you must first preach the gospel. It is the gospel that makes the second coming of Christ the blessed hope. To the unbeliever, the second coming of Christ is a day of wrath, to quote Revelation. That’s anything but good. So we must be clear that we must be baptized. We must enter into Christ. We are not baptized into the church; we are baptized into Christ. It is this church that is called upon by God to preach Christ as no one has done before. Of all professing Christians, we must be foremost in lifting up Christ.
In His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, as recorded in John 17:3, Jesus said:
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
This is what the world needs to know — the only true God and His Son whom He sent, sent not to condemn us but to save us. Faith comes by hearing the word of Christ preached. When we are witnessing, we need to witness the gospel first. If I were to preach the second coming of Christ and the gospel and I give the people all the signs of the second coming, telling them that His coming is very soon, some will say, “I must become a Christian because Christ is coming soon and I want to go to heaven.” They are joining the church because they are afraid to be lost. They are joining through fear or because they want some kind of reward. Then they need all kinds of incentives to produce any work out of them. They need all kinds of things to push them forward. It is not the love of God that constrains in this case; it is saying, “What is the least I can do to hold my ticket into heaven?”
In Africa, you never buy things for what they offer you. When the American tourist goes to Africa and buys curios and the seller says five dollars and the tourist pays it, the seller says, “This fellow is a fool.” You always bargain. You never pay what they ask. Unfortunately, many Africans think that God is in the selling business. So this is how they pray: “Dear Lord, we want to go to heaven but you are asking too much. Ten percent of our income is too much. We are not rich like these Americans. We are poor. We have 10 children that you have blessed us with.” (They always blame God for their large families.) And then they say, “Lord, but we want to go to heaven, I can’t give 10 percent but here is 10 cents.” Everybody pays tithe in Africa but it is a bargain price. They give 10 cents and they think they have their ticket to heaven. The sad news is that God is not in the selling business. Salvation is a gift but we need to know what it means to receive that gift.
“For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
John 11:25 and Romans 10:9 say the same thing. John 11:25:
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die....”
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
The New Testament is full of that message. Unfortunately, too many Christians stop at “belief.” Belief only means mental assent to truth. God comes to you and says, “I have redeemed you in Christ.” Do you believe it? Yes. Well, I have some news for you. Even the devils believe that Jesus is the Messiah. He even proclaimed it. He said (Mark 1:24b):
“I know who you are — the Holy One of God!”
So James 2:19 says:
You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that — and shudder.
“You believe in one God? So does the devil.” But the devil does not have New Testament saving faith, because he falls short in:
To the Apostle Paul, faith in Jesus Christ means obeying the truth as it is in Christ. He introduced the gospel in the clearest gospel of all, the book of Romans. After introducing Christ as both God and man and Saviour of this world, this is what he says in Romans 1:5:
Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake.
So God called the Apostles not simply to believe but to obey the truth.
In Romans 6:17, Paul is addressing the Roman Christians and he says:
But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance.
They obeyed the gospel from the heart. That is why Paul could say in Romans 1:8b:
...Your faith is being reported all over the world.
They were willing to die for Christ because their faith was not merely a mental assent but obedience to the truth. Now we read in Romans 10:16a:
But not all the Israelites accepted the good news.
The Galatians had accepted and obeyed the gospel but the Judaizers had side-tracked them and Paul rebukes them in Galatians 5:7:
You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?
Also we read in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8:
...And give relief [hold on to your faith] to you who are troubled [that is, Christians who are being persecuted], and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels [you will notice that here Paul is presenting the second coming of Christ as bad news for the unbelievers]. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
...And, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him....
We see that 1 Peter 4:17 also confirms what has already been said — that a man is condemned not because he is a sinner but because he has not obeyed the gospel:
For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
So it is clear in the New Testament that faith involves obedience.
Now we need to examine what the New Testament means by obedience. We must first know what the gospel is. It is that God took the corporate human race and united us to Christ. Christ did two things to redeem us, both of which were required by His holy law.
First, He obeyed the law perfectly. The law says, “He who obeys shall live.” Christ did not come to save sinless human beings, but He came to save sinners. The law says, “The soul that sins must die.” Ezekiel 18:4b (and 18:20a):
The one who sins is the one who will die.
So He went to the cross and He surrendered our life. Yes, it cost Him the agony of the second death, but the life that died on the cross was His human life, which is our corporate condemned life. He died, not for three days but forever, because the law has said, “The soul that sins has no legal right to live.” That’s what it means to die. It means to say “good-bye” to life forever!
If I gave you a thousand dollars and in three days took it back, have I given you a thousand dollars? No, I have lent you a thousand dollars for three days. The Bible does not say, “God so loved the world that He lent us His only begotten Son.” It says, “He gave” [John 3:16]. In 1 John 5:11 we are told what God gave us:
And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
It was not the conditional immortality which Adam had before his fall that He gave us but eternal life, and this life has its source in His Son, Jesus Christ. In other words, on the cross our life came to an end forever and, in exchange, God gave us the life of His Son. That is the gift of God. He did not lend it to us. He gave it to us forever. Since that life never dies, those who receive that life will never die. That’s the statement that Jesus made to Martha when she said about Lazarus (John 11:21-26a):
“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die....”
He who accepts Him will have life immortal. In other words, the life you and I receive from Adam has to die. Jesus did not come to change the death sentence. If He changed the death sentence, He would be breaking His own law. He came to fulfill the death sentence. To obey the gospel is simply to accept the death of Christ as my death. To obey the gospel means to say what Paul says in Galatians 2:19-20:
For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.
What Paul is saying is that the law killed me because I’m a sinner. In verse 20, we see when the law killed Paul:
I have been crucified with Christ [His death is my death] and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
To obey the gospel is to accept the life of Christ in exchange for your life. That’s what it means to obey the gospel. God is saying, “The life you were born with must die. There is no choice; it has to die. Because I love you, I have given you the life of my Son. Will you accept that life in exchange for your life?” If you say “No,” then there is no other hope. Let me put it in another way. In this world, you begin with life. You come into this world with life and you end up with death. In the gospel, it is reversed. You begin with death and end up with life. You cannot have that life unless you have the death first.
In the context of Romans chapter six is baptism. Romans 6:8:
Now if we died with Christ [that is obeying the gospel], we believe that we will also live with him.
The death comes first, then the living. The book of 2 Timothy is especially for the young people for Timothy was a young man. It is easy to die when you are 80 years old, especially when you are offered a new life. But when you are 16 and 17 and the whole world is in front of you, it is hard to die, young people.
One young student told me, when I was in Ethiopia, “Pastor Sequiera, what you say is the truth, but I tell you that I want to enjoy this world. When I reach your age, then I will accept Christ.” He wanted the best of both worlds. Here is the problem. It is like a person who takes up smoking and says, “I just want to be a social smoker. Then, when I have had my fun, I will give it up.” But many people who take up smoking find that they cannot give it up. I told him, “You are playing with fire when you make that statement because, if you reject the gospel now, it becomes harder and harder, because you are hardening your conscience and you will reach the stage when you come to the point of no return.” “But I want to enjoy the world,” he said. Well, we cannot have both.
In 2 Timothy 2:11 we read:
Here is a trustworthy [true] saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him....
When I had finished college and became an architect, the very first thing for which I saved my money was to buy a motorcycle. I had the fastest motorcycle in Kenya. It was a thousand C.C. Winston Black Shadow. I could spin the back wheel at ninety miles per hour approaching l30 miles per hour. I was living in paradise! If somebody had said, “Get off that motor cycle,” I would say, “No way.” But if someone came up to me and said, “I have here a brand new Porsche car and I will give it to you on one condition.” I would say, “What?” And he would say, “Give up your motorcycle.” I would be a fool not to make that exchange. You see, young people, when God asks you to give up your life, that’s a sacrifice, but if He asks you to give up your life in exchange for His life, you are a fool to say “no.” You are giving up nothing compared to what you are getting.
Peter came to Jesus and said, “Look we are giving up everything. What is our reward?” Jesus said, “Nobody gives up anything who doesn’t get one hundred fold and more plus eternal life.” Matthew 19:27-30:
Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”
I was taking a Week of Prayer at our college in Ethiopia. There was a young man who was an Egyptian and was a senior taking agriculture. Egyptians had to do two years compulsory national service. He got into an argument with his Bible teacher who had told him that it was wrong for Christians to carry arms. During the week of prayer, I gave them time for questions. This young man stood up and said to me, “Is it a sin for me to go back to Egypt and take up arms and fight those Zionists?” That’s the Arab term for Jews.
I said to him, “Darwit, an Egyptian who doesn’t fight for his country should be ashamed of himself. But can I ask you a question?” He said, “Yes.” “Were you baptized?” I asked. He said, “Yes.” I asked him, “Have you ever seen a dead Egyptian fight for his country?” He said, “No.” I said, “As a Christian, you are dead. You are no longer an Egyptian. You are dead and you are in Christ now and, by the way, Christ happened to be a Jew.” Anyone who tells an Arab that is asking for trouble. He said, “I am not dead.” I said, “No? May I give you a text?” I asked. I could give him a host of texts but I gave only one, Colossians 3:3:
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
He said, “No way, I’m not dead.” I said, “Darwit, that is not my problem; it is your problem. I’m simply giving you what the Word of God says.”
I left and went back to Addis Ababa, 150 miles away, when the Week of Prayer was over. This young man, Darwit, was testing a John Deere tractor with his instructor. The instructor was sitting on the seat and Darwit was sitting on the fender. They were coming down a hill and suddenly discovered that there were no brakes. He tried to slow the thing and nothing happened. Then he put it into a lower gear but got it into neutral and could not get it into a lower gear, so the momentum increased. He did a wise thing — “Save yourself!” and he jumped out.
But Darwit froze on that tractor. It hit a tree and pinned him under. It took them twenty minutes to pull Darwit out. Our nurse inspected him. His body was crushed and there was no sign of a heartbeat. The students pleaded with the faculty to take him to a hospital three miles down the road. So they rushed him to the hospital. The kids went into the chapel and prayed furiously for his life. Two doctors examined him very carefully and they both pronounced him dead. The nurse took a blanket and was going to cover his body. When she looked at his eyes they blinked. She cried out, “He’s alive!”
One of the doctors said, “Well, I think you just imagined that you saw his eyes blink.” The other doctor said, “No, let me examine him again.” His stethescope recorded a very faint heart beat. Darwit had come back to life but they could not do much for him in that hospital so they phoned our hospital in Addis Ababa. We sent our mission plane and they carried him to our hospital. He was still unconscious. In about three weeks he regained consciousness. I went to visit him and found him still all bandaged up. I went right to his ears and said, “Darwit, how are you?” I will never forget what he said to me. He said, “Pastor Sequiera, Darwit, the Egyptian, is dead. You are talking to a Christian.” Somehow the Holy Spirit told him, “I had to teach you the hard way.”
We cannot cling to our old life and go to heaven. That old life must die. We have two choices: either we die in Christ, then in exchange we get His life, or we can die out of Christ, and that is the end of us. To accept the gospel we must accept the life of Christ which at infinite cost He gave us in exchange for our miserable sinful life. God is not asking us to give up coffee and tea and alcohol. God is asking us to give up that life. That life must go. When that life goes, then all these other things go automatically.
If you take a can of beer to an alcoholic who is lying in his casket and, as they do in America, they open it up for you to say “good-bye” and you hand him the can and say, “How about one for the road?” He will not take it, not because he has given up alcohol but because he is dead. That is the power of the gospel. Galatians 2:20:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
The same Christ who lived in humanity two thousand years ago will live in humanity today. And the world will see God manifested in the flesh. That is what the world needs to see.