The First and Second Death of Christ in the Heavenly Sanctuary
by J. Wilfred
In the heavenly Sanctuary, before He ever
came to this world, He [Christ] laid down His great eternal body and blood;
He shed His life blood; He gave up the ghost--the Holy Ghost! There was no
Holy Ghost before that--only the Spirit of God. He gave up the Spirit of
life, the eternal Spirit which was His eternal life. (This is in the Spirit
of Prophecy): "Christ declared that after His ascension, He would
send to His church, as His crowning gift, the Comforter, who was to take
His place. This Comforter is the Holy Ghost, the soul of His life!"
E.G. White, Review and Herald, May 19, 1904. He gave it up; and He died
a voluntary death -- in the court of the heavenly Sanctuary! And there were
two witnesses who saw this -- two witnesses who had been called up from earth:
Moses and Elijah. This was the first death of Christ, from which there WAS
At any time during His sojourn here on
earth, in the person of Jesus, He could by a thought have returned to His
former glory, received all His heritage again, and
left man to die an eternal death. He could have done this! He died here [in
the heavenly sanctuary] the first death--the death of sleep. He could have
The Irrevocable Decision of Jesus in
In Gethsemane He made the irrevocable
decision to die the second death, from which there can be no hope of a
resurrection! 'He suffered the death which was ours," says Sister
White, "that we might receive the life which WAS
His." Desire of Ages, 25. That's plain! In Gethsemane, He relinquished
His eternal life; He relinquished His body and blood -- that former body
and blood that represented His great eternal heritage -- His Word, and His
Spirit, and all things that had been written into His creation, and the
Spirit of eternal life! He relinquished them! And He cried, 'My God, my
God, why hast thou forsaken Me?' (Mark 15:34). And He said to His disciples
at the last supper: 'I will not again partake of this emblem until I
partake of it anew with you in the kingdom.' (cf. Matt. 26:29). And in the
kingdom, He will partake of it anew through the marriage ceremony, when He
becomes united with the rest of His body in the marriage union with His
bride -- the saints!
His body you see,
is now divided; it is broken and given to His saints to eat -- to assimilate.
And in the marriage union of the Lamb with His saints, the new body of
Christ is restored -- it is restructured. And now Jesus is the Head of that
body, but His people are the members. Anybody knows that the head would
have a difficult time functioning without the body. Christ needs His new
temple of saints, to function through them!
This was the sacrifice He made; this was the
[crowning] gift He gave. His heritage should now be in them -- that they were to be His body through whom He would operate
on a voluntary basis. No more could anyone challenge the integrity of
Christ. Never could anyone say that He was the autocrat, the dictatorial
ruler! He is now the Wonderful Counselor, the Prince of Peace. And if the
hand refuses to do the bidding of the head, it is not done. Only by means
of the hand can it be done. So when the head requires the hand or requests
the hand to do a task, the "hand" must voluntarily do it, if it
is to be done. The kingdom of heaven will be based on voluntary allegiance;
there will be no force. The drawing and constraining power of love for
Jesus will motivate the active response!
When this enormous sacrifice of Christ is
seen in all its glory, God's people will loathe themselves for their
iniquities. They cannot ever again bring themselves to sin against their
Redeemer. They know that He has declared them righteous forever, and that
He has declared Himself their High Priest forever, and that if ever again
they should sin, they would not jeopardize their eternal life; but they
would jeopardize the peace and the freedom from suffering of their Saviour;
for He is the one who must bear the consequences of such a sin!
Victory over sin, refusal to sin, is a
voluntary thing. If it were made a condition of eternal life, then sinlessness would be motivated by selfishness; and that
is a contradiction. For sin, basic sin, is selfishness; and sin cannot be
eradicated until selfishness is destroyed and selflessness rules. And
that could only be done as Christ would take the sinner's penalty forever;
and the saint would voluntarily refuse to sin, because he knows that if he
did sin, Christ would be the sufferer -- not he himself. Thus selfishness
is placed on an entirely voluntary basis! I hope I have made my point.
The Marriage of Christ to His Saints
Before Probation Closes
When Jesus came forth from the tomb, He came
forth as the One who had been born in Bethlehem and who had grown up in
Nazareth. And He will not again partake of the eternal heritage of His
former body and blood, until He partakes of it through the marriage union
with His saints, and the kingdom is restored.
This occurs before the close of probation
(EW 280)! The marriage union is consummated and the new body of Christ is
established, and the kingdom is restored. The allegiance of His people
voluntarily to their Counsellor, the Head of the new body, is restored; and
Jesus again partakes of His former heritage through His saints. What a
picture of humility! What a picture of self-sacrifice! There is no equal to
Christ Died The Second Death at the Cross
It should be recognized that Christ did die
the eternal death of the sinner. The death of the sinner is the second
death which is an everlasting death from which there can be no hope of a
resurrection [EW 218.6]. Christ died the FIRST death in the heavenly
Sanctuary before He came to this world in the form of Jesus. This was
the death of sleep from which He awakened, and from which He had the
privilege of going back into His former heritage. On the cross He
died the SECOND death; and this was a different death. There was no
returning from this death, in the sense that He would never again be able
to return to the position -- the status -- in exactly the same way that He
had it before.
I recognize that we are dealing with a
difficult problem here, that Christ died an eternal death from which there
is no resurrection, and from which there can be no hope of a resurrection;
and at the same time He lives. But Christ is eternal; and so we are dealing
with a mystery. At the same time, He does not return to the
identical conditions under which He existed prior to His Incarnation.
In the Old Testament, Christ was the great God -- the God of His people. It
was Christ who created the world. It was Christ who spoke to Moses on the
Mount, and whom Moses saw. It was Christ who walked with Abraham. He was
God, and yet God the Father was operating through Christ. And here again
we're dealing with a mystery. It is not my purpose at this point to move
into this mystery; I am not able to solve it. There are thoughts that could
be expressed, but we will leave them at this particular stage.
Incarnation of the Holy Ghost in Christ's Saints
I simply want to point out that when Jesus
came out of the tomb, He was a man who had walked the dusty roads of
Galilee; and He would not again partake of His former heritage, His former
body and blood, except as there would be men who would respond to His call
to 'follow' Him. Only as His new body could be built up from the saints, and
the incarnation of the Holy Ghost could take place -- only through this
experience could the body of Christ be reproduced.
The "temple" that He said would be
destroyed, He also said that in three days "I will raise it up."
There is a deeper meaning in this statement. He spoke of the temple of His
human body -- yes; but He spoke also of the great temple of His heavenly
body. And each day is for a year. But each day is also for a thousand years
with God, and a thousand years as one day. It was in the third thousand
years that the new temple was to be restored in His people, and the
incarnation of Christ through the Holy Ghost in His people, known as the
marriage of the Lamb to His bride, was to take place.
It is through the saints that Christ
returns. He is to live in His saints -- 'His inheritance is in His saints,'
says Paul. (cf. Eph 1:18). And herein again is the law of the universe, the
law of heaven and earth, exemplified: He gave all, that He might receive
all again. There is no way to receiving but by giving. If a man would have
eternal life, he must lose his life for Christ's sake. Christ gave His life
for the sake of His people, and it is through His people that His life is
I am not herewith talking about His human
life -- His life in humanity and the resurrection of His human body -- I am
speaking of His great eternal and spiritual body which He exemplified or
typified through the communion service --this is what I am speaking of. And
He himself said that He broke His body, and that the broken bread of the
communion service represented His body, that it might be divided among the
disciples for them to eat and assimilate.
He was not talking about His physical human
body --He still lives in that. Nor was He talking about the life of his
physical human body. [We are invited to partake of His DIVINE
nature--2 Peter 1:4]. He was talking about the Holy Spirit, the
Eternal Spirit of life, the Eternal Spirit of God, which is the source of
all life that had been His in His great eternal body, as the God of the Old
Testament and the God of eternity -- this is what He was talking about! It
is in this blood; and this is the blood of His body, for it is the life of
it --He gave up the Spirit of Life. He gave up the Ghost. And that great
Ghost of His former body --the Holy Ghost -- that great body with all its
characteristics and qualities -- was divided for His disciples to eat and
for them to drink. And it was in this Spirit of Life that the new testament
or new covenant resided. He said, "This is the new covenant in my
blood, the new testament in my blood; drink ye all of it." -- all of it! [cf. Matt. 26:27 & 28; also 1 Cor.
The Comforter is the Soul of Christ's
The abundant outpouring of the Holy Ghost is
to come to the 144,000. Through them will be restored the body temple of
Christ. Through them will God and Christ -- in them will God and Christ
come to dwell by the agency of the Holy Ghost. I wonder if you get the
implications of this? "This Comforter is
the Holy Spirit -- the soul of His life,...."
(EGW Review and Herald, May 19, 1904).
And the promise to the Laodicean people who
overcome is fantastic. It says, (Revelation, chapter three): 'To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne,
even as I also overcame," -- the same way! -- "and am set down
with my Father in His throne." Now get it! As Christ was set down with
His Father in His throne (and the Bible says that all things were given
into the hands of the Son -- all power) --this is how Christ is set down
with His Father in His throne.
He was One with Him from eternity; and
through Him was everything made that was made. This is the great God of the
Old Testament, the great Christ, the Son of God.
That is how He is set down with His Father in His throne. And He says that
even as I am set down with my Father in His throne, eve so will I grant
that Him that overcometh (in the Laodicean period
of the church's history) as I also overcame, will I grant to sit down with
Me in my throne -- in the same way. (cf. Rev. 3:21).
The New Governing Body of the Universe
What a tremendous picture! Here is the new
governing body of the universe: Christ the Head, and His saints the body;
and as a unit they function and replace the great God of the Old Testament,
Who is now in them, Who is now married to them; and they twain, says Paul,
shall become one flesh. But this is a great mystery, he says; but I speak
concerning Christ and His church. (Eph. 5:29-30). Is this not plain? He
also says that "the saints are built up an
habitation of God through the Spirit." (cf. Eph. 2:20-22). It could
not be made any plainer for anyone to see. Let's get the scales off our
eyes. Let's anoint our eyes with eye-salve and take a look -- and see!
How can anyone who sees this picture refuse
the call of Christ to take up His cross and follow Me; how can anyone
refuse? It is not the reward -- it is a responsibility; it is not the
reward -- it is a need on the part of Christ, who has given all. And He can
regain His life only through His saints! I speak here of His former life.
There is a difference; else He did not die the eternal death of the sinner.
The eternal life of Christ did not die;
He relinquished it [laid it aside for us]. He gave it up. He gave up the
Ghost, and the Spirit returned to God who gave it! [cf
DA 22.9 & 23.1]. And He prays the Father, that the Father would send
that Spirit upon His children. That
is the Everlasting Covenant. That is the agreement -- that the heritage
that had been His, was to be bestowed upon His people. That is His last
will and testament! And the Father is fulfilling the part of the
Administrator and Executor of the will of Christ; and He delivers the
heritage, even as Christ had requested in His last will and testament!
That's how you get eternal life, my friend
-- no other way. Your life is His life. I should say, your eternal life is
not yours, it is His. He gives it to you. You could have it in no other
way. "He suffered the death which was yours," says our
prophet, "that you might receive the life which WAS His." (cf. DA
25). I know I am dealing here with a very deep mystery, and some will
not see it. If you cannot see it, just leave it. Don't let it bother you.
Take the Word of God by faith; accept what it says, and God will take care
of the rest.
But He is looking for a people; He is
calling for individuals who are willing to stand up and be counted, and
through whom He can perform His work of purification and complete salvation
from sin. That is what He is looking for! That is what He is calling for:
that is what He is inviting you to do! Are you willing? Are YOU willing?