The Gospel and the Sanctuary

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The Gospel and the Sanctuary

By Colin and Russell Standish

Narrow and false views of the gospel have long limited men's understanding of the ministry of our High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary. Large numbers of Christians have, without Scriptural authority, limited their understanding of the gospel to Christ's death on Calvary and to a forensic,1 or legal justification. There must be no weakening of the emphasis upon Christ's substitutionary role for the salvation of man, because the Scriptures make it clear that the gospel, though centered upon the cross and a true concept of justification, includes all that God has done for man through His Son, Jesus Christ. Christ Himself preached a gospel, which apparently concentrated on aspects other than Calvary.

Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. Mark 1:14, 15.

It certainly is clear that prior to His crucifixion the disciples had no concept of Christ's true mission; nevertheless, they were sent to "preach the gospel."

And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. . . . And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing everywhere. Luke 9:2, 6.

Furthermore, much modern conservative theology wrongly limits Christ's Calvary sacrifice to a ministry of justification for repentant sinners, thus limiting His justifying grace to His crucifixion ministry. Yet there is abundant Scriptural evidence that the same sacrifice that justifies also sanctifies; and the same faith that must reach out to appropriate the justifying grace of Christ must also reach out to appropriate the sanctifying power of Christ.

But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. 1 Corinthians 1:30.2

Christ's Sacrifice Vital to Justification and Sanctification

The Bible leaves no doubt that the basis of man's sanctification is as much a part of the gospel as is justification.


Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justifications. Romans 4:25.

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. Ephesians 5:25, 26.


Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. Romans 3:24, 25.


By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Hebrews 10:10.


Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. Romans 5:9


Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Hebrews 13:12.

The Relationship of "Works" to Justification and Sanctification

In the spotlight of incontrovertible Biblical evidence, there can be no doubt concerning the all-embracing provisions of the sacrifice of Christ. When it is understood that the central event of the gospel encompasses the total restoration of repentant man, and is not limited to his justification, then the fullness of the gospel is understood.

Further, justification cannot be limited to a forensic act of God on behalf of repentant sinners. Paul emphasized this thought.

For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. Romans 2:13.

This, of course, does not suggest that man is justified by works, but that God cannot justify him without works. Paul clarified this point in his epistle to the Galatians; also, this same concept is confirmed by James:

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. Galatians 2:16-18.

But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? and the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. James 2:20-24.

Almost all Christians agree that justification is God's perfect forgiveness for man, through the merits of His Son Jesus Christ; however, many have wrongly concluded that sanctification is man's imperfect work for God. The ground of our sanctification is identical with that of our justification-God's perfect work for man through Jesus Christ; however, works are evidenced in both justification and sanctification, for we cannot be justified until there is a complete surrender of our will to Christ. This surrender continues throughout one's growth in sanctification. It must be stressed that this submission does not justify man, but places him where God can justify him. In parallel manner, the good works, which are the expression of the sanctified life, are the evidence of Christ's perfect life manifested in the life of the believer.

Justification encompasses a transformation of character, and is clearly noted in Scripture. When explaining the conversion experience to Nicodemus, Christ plainly stated to him that eternal salvation is dependent upon a complete change of life.

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. John 3:5.

Both Old and New Testaments emphasize transformation as part of the process of justification.

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. Ezekiel 36:26, 27.

Faith Necessary for Justification and Sanctification

The Scriptures teach that both justification and sanctification are of faith.


Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Romans 3:24.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1.


To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. Acts 26:18.

Nowhere in Scripture is there evidence for the view that sanctification results from man's works. While good works are the outgrowth of sanctification, good works cannot produce sanctification. Holiness is the manifestation of the power of the Godhead in the life of every submitted human being. It is a gift in the same way that justification is a gift.


Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. Galatians 2:16.

And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:11.

Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Romans 8:3


Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours. 1 Corinthians 1:2.

Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called. Jude 1.

That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.Romans 15:16.

It is by the sacrifice of Jesus that man's justification and his sanctification are purchased. The sacrifice of Jesus is a complete sacrifice for the total restoration of man. The same spilt blood and the same death of the spotless Son of God which secured man's justification, has secured his sanctification and his restoration as well.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:17, 18.

Justification can be compared to the germination of the seed of truth, and sanctification to the growth of the plant. As both the germination of the seed and the growth of the plant, in the physical sense, require warmth and water, so the justification and sanctification of the Christian require the warmth of Christ's love and the watering of the Holy Spirit.

Christ's High Priestly Ministry

A true understanding of these gospel principles is vital to our understanding of the ministry of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary. If we believe that the gospel is limited to a forensic justification, then there is no need for a God-imparted victorious life on this side of the Second Coming of Jesus, and the high priestly ministry of Christ in the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary is immediately a theological redundancy; however, an understanding of the ministry of the high priest on the Day of Atonement leads to the conclusion that Christ's second-apartment ministry is associated with a final atonement for sin and a special purification of God's people.

For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord. It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever. Leviticus 16:30, 31.

Paul also elaborates on the special cleansing work for man by Christ, our High Priest:

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 9:14.

After Christ completes His work in the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary, then He makes His irrevocable declaration:

He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. Revelation 22:11.

When this declaration is made, the ministry of Christ for mankind is completed. No longer is blood appropriated for the forgiveness of sin, and one sin, after this final declaration, would place man outside of the kingdom forever. This declaration comes shortly before the return of Christ.

And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. Revelation 22:12.

How culpable are those who teach that the saints will go on sinning until Jesus comes!

The Biblical messages of righteousness by faith and the sanctuary are indivisibly linked. To believe and understand God's work for His people through the ministry of Christ in the Most Holy Place, is to understand a Christ-imputed and Christ-imparted righteousness that cleanses us from "all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." 2 Corinthians 7:1.

To suggest that the saints may continue to sin after Christ's ministry in the Most Holy Place is completed, is to ignore or to deny the essential purpose of Christ's last ministry, and to place oneself in danger of eternal separation from God. Those who limit the gospel to Calvary cannot accept the fullness of Christ's sanctuary ministry.

By His death, as well as by His ministry in the sanctuary in heaven, Christ seals the covenant of grace in the life of every victorious believer, and secures his eternal salvation before He returns.


1. Meaning God's legal act to clear man from sin. This concept ignores the change of heart that occurs at justification.

2. Sanctify (from the Greek word, Hagiazo) means to make holy, purify, or consecrate (from Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible).