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A Response to the Video:
Seventh-day Adventism, the Spirit Behind the Church

by Bob Pickle

Answers to Questions Raised by:
Mark Martin, Sydney Cleveland
Dale Ratzlaff, The White Lie
. . . and

Discern Fact from Fiction

Sunday vs. the Lord's Day, and the Scapegoat

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#191: "Adventists further deviate in their salvation doctrine by teaching that Satan ultimately becomes the sin-bearer. They teach he bears away the sins of the world. 'As the priest in removing the sins from the sanctuary, confess them upon the head of the scapegoat, so Christ will place all these sins upon Satan, the originator and instigator of sin...' Great Controversy p. 485."—Mark Martin.

#191: Satan becomes the sin-bearer. Though the term "sin-bearer" appears in Mrs. White's published and released writings at least 186 times, she not once said that Satan is our "sin-bearer." She consistently taught that Christ is our "only sin-bearer":

In His intercession as our advocate, Christ needs no man's virtue, no man's intercession. He is the only sin-bearer, the only sin-offering.—Signs of the Times, June 28, 1899.

How hard poor mortals strive to be sin-bearers for themselves and for others! but the only sin-bearer is Jesus Christ. He alone can be my substitute and sin-bearer. The forerunner of Christ exclaimed, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."—Review and Herald, June 9, 1896.

Proclaim remission of sins through Christ, the only Sin-bearer, the only Sin-pardoner. Proclaim the remission of sins through repentance toward God and faith in Christ, and God will ratify your testimony.—The Voice in Speech and Song, p. 340. [p. 126]

Now if Jesus is our "only sin-bearer," how can Satan be one too?

Mr. Martin's quote from Great Controversy appears in its entirety under "Point 90" in the documentation package, the only "proof" given for the charge. Notice carefully what even the part quoted in the video says: "As the priest in removing the sins from the sanctuary . . . ." Now if the high priest, representing Jesus Christ, removes the sins by carrying them in his own person, must he not be the sin-bearer?

Mr. Martin refers to what Seventh-day Adventists believe that the closing ceremonies of the services of the Day of Atonement represent. This has nothing to do with who the sin-bearer is. Consider carefully the following verses:

And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat [the Hebrew reads "for Azazel"]. (Lev. 16:8)

And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat: And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness. (Lev. 16:20-22)

Notice that the goat for Azazel has the sins put upon him only after the high priest has made an end of reconciling. Since the word for "reconciling" is the Hebrew word for "atoning," this means that the sins are only put upon him after the end of the atonement.

The high priest represents Jesus. Whom would Jesus put the sins of God's people upon after He has finished the atonement? Himself? If so, why would He need to have sins placed upon Himself after the atonement is finished?

If the only atonement that ever was or ever shall be occurred at the cross, why would Jesus place sins upon Himself after He had already died for sin?

The Adventist position that Azazel is Satan makes more sense and raises less questions: After the atonement is finished, Jesus our high priest, the great Sin-bearer, will place all our sins upon Azazel, Satan, since he is the cause and instigator of all sin.

Let's deal with several points one at a time. First of all, how do we know that Azazel is a name for Satan? We already saw that the book of 1 Enoch identifies Azazel as being a fallen angel. Consider also the following discussion by John N. Andrews, and his citation of scholars who were not Adventists:

Mr. [Charles] Beecher states two views respecting the meaning of this term Azazel, each of which he shows to be manifestly untrue. He then gives his own view, as follows:—

"The third opinion is, that Azazel is a proper name of Satan. In support of this, the following points are urged: The use of the preposition implies it. The same preposition is used on both lots, La Yehova, La Azazel; and if the one indicates a person, it seems natural the other should, especially considering the act of casting lots. If one is for Jehovah, the other would seem for some other person or being; not one for Jehovah, and the other for the goat itself.

"What goes to confirm this is, that the most ancient paraphrases and translations treat Azazel as a proper name. The Chaldee paraphrase and the targums of Onkelos and Jonathan would certainly have translated it if it was not a proper name, but they do not. The Septuagint, or oldest Greek version, renders it by apopompaios, a word applied by the Greeks to a malign deity, sometimes appeased by sacrifices.

"Another confirmation is found in the Book of Enoch, where the name Azalzel, evidently a corruption of Azazel, is given to one of the fallen angels, thus plainly showing what was the prevalent understanding of the Jews at that day.

"Still another evidence is found in the Arabic, where Azazel is employed as the name of the evil spirit.

"In addition to these, we have the evidence of the Jewish work, Zohar, and of the Cabalistic and Rabbinical writers. They tell us that the following proverb was current among the Jews: 'On the day of atonement, a gift to Sammael [a Jewish name for Satan].' . . .

"Another step in the evidence is when we find this same opinion passing from the Jewish to the early Christian church. Origen was the most learned of the Fathers, and on such a point as this, the meaning of a Hebrew word, his testimony is reliable. Says Origen: 'He who is called in the Septuagint apopompaios and in the Hebrew Azazel, is no other than the devil.'

"Lastly, a circumstance is mentioned of the Emperor Julian, the apostate, that confirms the argument. He brought as an objection against the Bible, that Moses commanded a sacrifice to the evil spirit. An objection he never could have thought of, had not Azazel been generally regarded as a proper name.

"In view, then, of the difficulties attending any other meaning, and the accumulated evidence in favor of this, Hengstenberg affirms with great confidence that Azazel cannot be anything else but another name for Satan. . . .

"The meaning of the term, viewed as a proper name, was stated in 1677, by Spencer, Dean of Ely, to be Powerful Apostate, or Mighty Receder."

Mr. Beecher, on the seventy-second page of his [p. 127] work, states that Professor Bush considers Azazel to be a proper name of Satan.

Gesenius, the great Hebrew lexicographer, says:—

"Azazel, a word found only in the law respecting the day of atonement. Lev.16:8,10,26. . . . it seems to denote an evil demon dwelling in the desert and to be plac[at]ed with victims . . . . This name Azazel is also used by the Arabs for an evil demon."

Milton represents Azazel as one of the fallen angels, and the standard-bearer of Satan . . . . Paradise Lost, book 1.

The "Comprehensive Commentary" has the following important remarks:—

"Scape-goat. See different opinions in Bochart. Spencer, after the oldest opinions of the Hebrews and Christians, thinks Azazel is the name of the devil; and so Rosenmuller, whom see. The Syriac has Azzail, the angel (strong one) who revolted."

"Cassell's Illustrated Bible" speaks thus of the scape-goat:—

"We offer the following exposition as much more likely, and much more satisfactory: That Azazel is a personal denomination for the evil one."—J. N. Andrews, The Judgment, Its Events and Their Order, pp. 78-81.

Now for our next point. Leviticus 16:22 said that "the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited." If this goat is Satan, is he not a sin-bearer, even if the atonement is already over, since he is bearing sin? And what about when Andrews said:

To show the reasonableness of that act which rolls back upon Satan the sins of the people of God, and also to define the nature of the act, let us carefully state the case. Every sin committed by men is instigated by Satan. This part of the transgression is the sin of Satan alone, and belongs solely to him, whether men repent or not. But consenting to the tempter, and obeying him, is the sin of the one tempted. This part of the transgression will, in the case of all who avail themselves of the work of our High Priest, be placed upon the antitypical scape-goat, Satan, and he will have to bear the full punishment of all such sins.

One of the most important events, therefore, in the opening of the great day of judgment, is that of placing the sins of the overcomers upon the head of the great author of sin.—Ibid., pp. 81, 82.

So what about it? If Satan bears "the full punishment" of certain sins after the atonement is over, does that not make him a sin-bearer? Not at all.

Every Bible-believing Christian knows that those who do not place their sins on the great Sin-bearer Jesus Christ will have to bear the full punishment of their own sins. Does then the unsaved person become his own sin-bearer? Of course not. Even though he has to bear the full punishment of his own sins, he does not become a sin-bearer.

The term "sin-bearer" carries the connotation of Savior, substitute, and mediator. This the unsaved can never be.

How Jesus can transfer sin to something after the atonement is finished is not the only thing Adventist theology explains. The first gospel promise said that Satan's head would be crushed under the feet of the "seed," which Paul identifies as both Christ and his followers (Gen. 3:15; Gal. 3:16, 29). Paul also says that "the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly" (Rom. 16:20). While it is easy to see how Christ will crush Satan's head, what part do the redeemed have in all this? If after the atonement is over, Christ were to place their sins upon Satan, and Satan were to suffer punishment for those sins, then the redeemed would indeed have a part to play in the crushing of his head.

Placing sins upon the scapegoat after the atonement is over has nothing to do with our salvation. It has everything to do with the punishment of the great rebel who has caused so much misery on planet earth.

A Response to the Video

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