Sermon delivered August 1, 1998

by Pastor Donald J Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Quoatations from the Bible are from the New International Version unles otherwise noted.

Our Distant Pastor

People watch pastors. As the pastor's wife lets out the dog she says: "Remember, Beauregard, you're the pastor's dog; all the other dogs will be watching you. Mind your manners." People watch pastors. Some folk are even finicky with the location the pastor chooses for his house.

When we first entered the ministry My wife and I were assigned a three church district in beautiful SW Michigan. These churches were all about 10 miles apart. Nice folk received us well but at each church we were pulled aside by some of the saints and given a lecture. We think you should live in our town because the other two churches don t need you as much as we do. It was a juggling act to locate a house to live in that would be acceptable to each church.

You would think we should have hired a surveyor to find the mid-point equal distant from the pulpit of each church and put the front doorknob of our house on that mark. With our luck there would probably be a swamp infested with mosquitos on that exact location.

No one wants a long distance pastor. A Church Bulletin said: "God is good. Our pastor is better." Now why would anyone say that? Because they visualize God as being far off in heaven, with a unlisted number. People want somebody they can touch. A local agent.

At the foot of Mount Sinai the Israelites preferred a golden calf because God seemed so distant up there in the smoke and thunder. Is God distant? Yes and No. Where does God live? In heaven and in your heart. One place is so far no one has ever seen it. Yet God lives closer to me than I do. And God is our pastor. Fortunately He is omnipresent and is at every church every Sabbath.

Hebrews 4:14- "Therefore, since we have a great high priest (pastor) who has gone (into) heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess."

Hebrews 4:15- "For we do not have a high priest (Pastor) who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Jesus is today in Heaven. He is our High Priest. His office or pastors study is in the heavenly sanctuary. There Jesus ministers to His children, dispensing the benefits of His great sacrifice. This is the first phase of His job description.

When did Jesus become our high priest? At the time of His ascension when He went back Home about 31 AD. 1967 years ago.

As Seventh-day Adventists we believe in prophecy. The longest time prophecy in the Bible is the 2300 year prophecy extending from 457 BC to 1844 AD. We believe that in 1844 Jesus our High Priest undertook the last phase of His heavenly ministry. We call this the Investigative Judgment.

Much of this was portrayed in the Sanctuary of the Old Testament. This portable place of worship had within its borders a court yard and a tent. Inside the tent was a Holy place and a most holy place. In the court yard was the alter of burnt offering. This was a messy and bloody and smoky place. No wonder that next to it was a laver where the priests could go over and wash themselves.

Finally inside the most holy place was the ark of the covenants.

I believe the ark of the covenants will be found in the last days. Today, however only the ten commandments are still inside there.

The layout of this furniture formed the shape of a cross, thus pointing to the slaying of the true Lamb of God - - Jesus. The day of atonement was similar to the last day judgment.

That sanctuary is gone today. But Hebrews 9:22-23 indicates there is another, the true sanctuary, in heaven today. This is where Jesus ministers.

Jesus did not retire in AD 31. I envy retired people. They get up in the morning and think.... now what will I do today. They can twiddle their thumbs clockwise for an hour and counterclockwise for another hour. But Jesus is not retired. He is working.

What Jesus is doing up there is one of the best kept secrets of all time. The devil hates what you are about to hear. Very few that hear it really believe it. I am going to share it today.

    There are two great truths the devil hates the most. The arch-deceiver hates the great truths that bring to view
  1. -- the atoning sacrifice and
  2. -- an all powerful mediator.
Great Controversy p. 488.

As SAVIOUR Jesus provides forgiveness for sin.

As HIGH PRIEST, Jesus supplies Power over sin.

Misunderstanding these two elements of Jesus' job description has led some into predestination or universalism. Another way to look at it is the false belief in once saved always saved, or as some would say, the new theology of cheap grace.

When Jesus returned to heaven He went there, in the form of humanity, never again to be seen as He was before He came to this earth. (See Steps to Christ p.74).

Jesus risked everything to save us. It changed His life. And today Jesus ever lives to administer the benefits of the salvation that He died to provide for anyone who would believe in Him.

Today I want you to really see what Jesus is doing up in Heaven for you. So you will not be afraid. And so you will have assurance. Did you know that some actually fear the last day judgment? Maybe you do?

Revelation 14:6,7- "Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth--to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, 'Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.'"

To fear God means to love God. Do you love and respect God because the investigative Judgment is going on? Notice that the gospel is the overall message here. So the judgment has to be good news. Not something to be afraid of. If you fear the last day judgment, you probably have divorced it from the Gospel of Jesus.

Have you ever been called in to stand before a judge in a courtroom? Is it scary? Yes! Would it be scary if your mother was the judge? Christians are not scared of the judgment because of who the judge is.

Who is our judge? The heavenly Father or Jesus? John 5:22- "The Father judges no one, but has entrusted ALL judgment to the Son." Our Judge is also our Saviour who died to save us.

Look at an amazing text: Hebrews 4:16- "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

We approach the throne room in security. What are we confident of? That we will receive mercy! That we will be judged innocent...? Forgiven! How can we be afraid of a person Who loves us?

DANIEL 7:22- "...until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High,... "

The whole intention of the judgment going on in heaven is to pronounce God's people innocent of the indictments of the devil. Jesus judges in favor of His children. Are you a child of God? If so then you are home free. Jesus' children are grandfathered in. Untouchable by the old devil.

The judgment is good for us and bad for the unsaved. David wanted to be judged! Psalm 7:8- "let the LORD judge the peoples. Judge me, O LORD."

Imagine that you hear a knock on the door and there stands a law enforcement officer with a warrant for your arrest. It seems that they claim you are guilty of robbing the bank last Sabbath morning. Would you look forward to your day in court and proving your innocence? Yes! You could say: I have hundreds of witnesses that saw me in church that day at that exact time.

The last day judgment is bad news for the guilty but good news for the innocent. Are you guilty or innocent?

You are undoubtedly thinking - I am guilty. I am a sinner. Everything Satan accuses me of is true. I am a dead duck. Deader than a door nail!

But wait! You are a live duck because of forgiveness. The record book has been cleansed of all your sins. You stand there innocent. When we face the last day judgment we stand not in our own righteousness, but in the perfect righteousness of Jesus, our Saviour and our Judge! The great record book is opened and the record of your evil sins is gone! Forgiven! Cleansed by the Blood of the Lamb.... Jesus.

I John 2:1,2 "My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense--Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Jesus is our advocate. Do you know what that means? Jesus is our Judge and Jesus is also our defense attorney. What a winning combination! Do they do that in your town?

In Christ we stand guiltless and saved! Romans 9:16- "It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy."

My confidence of being saved depends not on my works but on Jesus works. Salvation is not based on reaching some level of character development, but on our relationship with Jesus. (We still believe, p. 41)

I John 5:12-14 "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God...

The Judgment vindicates the saints and permanently removes all power from our enemy the devil.

Daniel 7:26,27- "But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. Then sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom... "

The heavenly sanctuary is the location of the great investigative Judgment. There the devil will get his teeth pulled and God will put a Midas muffler on his roar and de-claw his lion like feet and the old imp will be powerless to scare or hurt any of God s children.

There you will be declared innocent and given power and greatness. Exciting things are happening way up in heaven. Our distant pastor is about to finish His wonderful work and come back to take us home.

Are you ready? You are if Jesus is your Saviour. That makes God your Father. Cling to Jesus who saves and empowers His children to become more and more like His divine image.

Don t let Jesus slip through your fingers. We have a high priest Who is not out of touch with reality. Let's walk right up to Him and get what He is so willing to give.

Opening Hymn 27
Scripture: Hebrews 4:15-16
Closing Hymn 184 Jesus paid it all.

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