Our confidence is in the reality of a living Savior
By Ted N. C. Wilson
Whether we like it or not, recent world events have changed the apparent innocence of the past. Regardless of where you live and what nationality you belong to, things are different.
War is horrible! Even though it can now be fought with a certain amount of technological precision and finesse from a distance, it does not take the horror out of it—especially for those on the receiving end.
Technology has created laser-guided missiles, remotely controlled bombing drones, night-vision goggles, GPS directional guidance, immediate communication, and a host of other technological wizardry. They tell us that in the near future almost 50 percent of all tanks and assault activity will be done by remotely controlled vehicles.
Virtual Reality—Almost Real (But Not Quite)
In some cultures technological innovations have moved beyond unique conversation pieces to become apparent necessities such as cell phones, laptop computers, and the Internet.
For too many, technology has taken over our lives. It has advanced to the point where it can almost replace the Creator. Technology has created a virtual reality—that which is almost real!
Jesus is real. His love for us is real.
Virtual reality technology is used for all kinds of purposes—computer games, military activities, aviation training, spatial tours of almost anything, graphic design, life experience simulation—you name it.
In these strange and uncertain times, have people been so influenced by technology that they assign even God to the category of virtual reality? Do they create a virtual Jesus—one who can be manipulated and bent to one’s own liking, pulling Him out of the box when He is needed or wanted?
Others don’t even want a virtual Jesus: they don’t want a Jesus at all.
But Christ is a real person who, if I read Scripture correctly, wants to mingle with His creation. In Genesis 1:26 God said, “Let Us make man in Our image”; no virtual image, but a real image. If we take this text seriously, there is a clear indication that God is real and that creation is real—after all, we were made in His image. It is our privilege to transmit this reality, this real Jesus, to those around us, including also to this technology-driven Internet generation.
God is a real person who enjoyed talking with His creation “in the cool of the day,” as Genesis records it (Gen. 3:8). During that fateful conversation in Genesis 3 after sin had entered, our real God spoke to the real devil, disguised as a serpent, and predicted the very real outcome of the conflict. He said, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Gen. 3:15).
This was the prediction of a real Christ who would leave the power of heaven and come to this earth as a powerless child of “the woman”—a very real birth. Until that time, Christ mingled with His people, speaking to the patriarchs, protecting the Israelites through a pillar, hovering over Sinai, and finally telling Moses, “Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them” (Ex. 25:8).
And so the sanctuary was built—there was nothing fake or virtual about it. It was a real place where the Creator God wanted to mingle with His people. In some sense, the earthly sanctuary, although real, was a virtual reality of what is in heaven, a representation, a copy of something real in heaven. Ellen White’s comments here are very helpful: “That sanctuary, in which Jesus ministers in our behalf, is the great original, of which the sanctuary built by Moses was a copy.”1
The book of Hebrews calls the heavenly sanctuary “the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man” (Heb. 8:2). The heavenly and earthly sanctuaries showed the picture of a real God and His love, demonstrating how He intended to save us.
The sanctuary pointed to Christ—the substitute Lamb who died for us. We can see a Christ who is mediating as high priest for His people; a Christ who conquered sin, thus showing the ultimate glory of the sanctuary service. As Ellen White put it: “Minds were carried forward to the closing events of the great controversy between Christ and Satan, the final purification of the universe from sin and sinners.”2
The sanctuary pointed to the real Jesus who would live a real life and conquer real sin dying, not on a virtual, graphically retouched, sanitized cross, but on a real, rough instrument of torture in real agony where He would depend on the power of His real heavenly Father.
This very real Jesus would rise to a real heaven to serve as a real high priest in the Most Holy Place of a real heavenly sanctuary. There’s nothing virtual about it—it’s all real! Real love, real mercy, and a real sacrifice!
Can you imagine the horror of Adam and Eve back in Eden, or a person coming to the sanctuary to offer a sacrifice, as they cut the throat of a perfect lamb (Lev. 5:5, 6). This was no virtual reality, but a bloody reality, pointing to the real death of Jesus for you and me. Hebrews tells us that “without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Heb. 9:22). Jesus shed that blood. He paid the ultimate sacrifice and conquered sin for our eternal life. He returned to heaven to act as our mediator and high priest.
Listen to Hebrews 9:24: “For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” A real Christ appears right now for you and me. And how is it that He has that right? Verses 26 and 28 provide the clue: “Now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” And, “So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” A real Christ who died a real death and is mediating as a real high priest so He can return in a real second coming to take us to a real heavenly home! What an incredible God we serve! This was not a divine afterthought but God’s plan, laid long before the creation of this earth. “The plan of salvation was designed to redeem the fallen race, to give them another trial. Christ was appointed to the office of Mediator from the creation of God, set up from everlasting to be our substitute and surety.”3
Immense Grace—And an Immense Mission
Can you imagine the hushed galactic war room in heaven as the plan was unveiled? The Supreme Authority spoke with unwavering control and commitment. We will provide salvation for everyone willing to submit their lives to Jesus Christ. Today, it is our heaven-ordained mission to proclaim that message through every available means. This is the reason why we exist as the Seventh-day Adventist Church. We are to present the reality of Christ and the Advent message to the world.
To those who humbly submit and make a commitment, God says in Hebrews 10:16, 17 (quoting from Jeremiah 31:33, 34): “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,’ . . . ‘Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” And in verse 19 we are told we have “boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus,” followed by these powerful promises in verses 21 and 22 that “having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.”
Make It Real
So how do we connect and commune with this real God? In a world of virtual reality, how do we find the real thing?
We are to come close to Jesus, spending quality time each day in communion with Him through prayer, the study of the Word of God, the study of the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy, and sharing our faith with others through the power of the Holy Spirit. As we come close to Jesus, there is no virtual reality. Jesus is real. His love for us is real. His life and death were real. His resurrection was real. His work in the heavenly sanctuary is real. His work and mission for us are real in sharing this wonderful story with others through our lives and our words. This is our mission, taking the reality of Christ to every corner of this globe.
Seventh-day Adventist Church members around the world are pleading with the Lord for revival and reformation, leading to the latter rain of the Holy Spirit and Christ’s soon coming. We face challenging times and seek communion with Christ that will culminate when He returns the second time—a real second coming, no hologram, no wide-screen 3-D, no high-definition TV wizardry, no virtual reality—the real thing, the blessed hope of Christ’s second coming.
This is where the circle will be closing. First John 3:2 says that “when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” This same Jesus who created us in His image—we will see Him as He is—real!
He calls us every day to follow Him through His power and through the leading of the Holy Spirit to share with others the reality of Jesus. I invite you to commit yourself, with me, to seek for revival and reformation through the Holy Spirit’s power so we can share the real Jesus and proclaim the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14:6-12, pointing to the real return of a real Christ—our Lord and Creator, our Redeemer and Mediator, our Friend and very real coming King.
1 Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 357.
2Ibid., p. 358.
3 Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 1, p. 250.
Ted N. C. Wilson is the president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, U.S.A.
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