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How to Present the Investigative Judgment — 19 Comments

  1. Thanks for this, Mike. I believe it is important to present the Investigative Judgment in the context of our whole understanding of biblical beliefs, and you have provided a good basis for doing so.

    I was wondering why there were no comments on this topic, and when I checked it was clear that it was because no comment form appeared due to an error in publishing this post.

    I trust that some of our readers will share their ideas now that the comment form is visible.

      • You can look up the history of the Holy Roman Empire. While it's not always easy to pinpoint exact dates for something like this in history since empires don't come to power over night, the timeframe would have to be somewhere between 500 and 1800 AD.

        • Paul who wrote the "except there come a falling away" also wrote vs 7. "already".
          I can see how in that day they were confused and saw that Jesus would come at any time. I live on the other side of 1798 and Berthier, the man who pulled down the throne at the behest of Napoleon.
          The problem with these historical events is that the tides of humanity cannot read. They do not relate men's actions to the heavenly realm. If God set a timetable in Dan and Revelation, it's for our GOOD. It's a warning and a promise... " this is where you should look, ye modern wise men. Seek the Savior HERE! "

          Much of the nominalist denominations wrote their theology/doctrine prior to 1800. Those glasses don't change, but the progression towards our deliverance demands a new perspective.

          A one room Sanctuary is much the same as once saved always saved. Our perspective drives the value of Dan 7:9, 13. The Father sat, then the Son moved to him. What once was fluid is becoming fixed. The books were in progress, are soon to be finished. The result is Dan 7:14: a finished kingdom. Jn 18:36. No earthly war determines the finish of that kingdom...

  2. I know nothing about Dutch Reform theology or Calvinism. If anyone is interested in Solo scriptura, I would be inclined to discuss something pertinent to our understanding of 2Tim.3:15,16 and 2Peter 1:20,21.

    • Hi Paul,

      Sola Scriptura is a great principle and one that we need to apply, particularly in our discussion of the Investigative Judgement. However we all know that there are many churches who also claim Sola Scriptura and use it as an assertion to claim that what they believe is right.

      We all come to our beliefs carrying baggage from our upbringing and education. It is well known that in the pre-Seventh-day Adventist formative years there were several heated discussions carried on in meetings and tracts concerning major issues of belief. Each participant holding that they were arguing from Scripture. Each person reflected their own background and understanding into the discussion. The fact that they reached any consensus at all is I believe due to the work of the Holy Spirit.

      Against that background, it is worth looking at the doctrine of the Investigative Judgement. Many of us have been Seventh-day Adventists for a long time (for some of us that means 3,4 or 5 generations) and all too often we have grown up with and accepted Adventist doctrine as a given and have not had to face the issue of discovery and development, that our forefathers did. We already have the mindset that it is correct.

      The Investigative Judgment came to the Adventist Church from discussions among people who had a spectrum of beliefs (all claiming Sola Scriptura) from Calvanism to Arminianism. They had to argue among themselves about it and pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Not everyone was convinced and there were many who simply gave up on the discussion and went away.

      With that background in mind, it is a worthwhile study to examine the background and precursors that lead us to the Investigative Judgement. We should then have the opportunity to decide for ourselves, whether we are kidding ourselves that the Investigative Judgement is Sola Scriptura or not.

      I know that many of us would like to think that we have an "a priori" argument for the IJ. We do not have that luxury because we are already the result of our history. We therefore have to take the "a posteriori" approach and examine the pathways that led us to where we are. If we are careful and critical in our examination then we may be able to claim Sola Scriptura with some justification.

      • Hi Maurice
        I agree with most if not all of what you have mentioned. I am probably less interested in some facets of historical interest, and would know what appeals to some, quite naturally appeals to others. To some including myself, are not lettered theologically, and must trust God to lead where He would have us go. Differences of opinion regarding scripture as you have noted have existed for longer than we might imagine. A current viewpoint might be,the form of liturgy that has changed in some worship services as progressive, have cause for what may be seen as acceptable or not, depending on ones persuasion. Sola scriptura for me says, if I understand everything that God has for me, which I do not, then as was promised, the Holy Spirit is sent to guide us into all Truth.

        • Paul, I think you're talking apples and paper bags, or something like that. Liturgy is not prescribed in the Bible. It is cultural tradition.

          "Sola scriptura" is intended to convey that the Bible alone is our rule of faith and doctrine. It cannot be used to support liturgy or music or style of clothing.

          Going back to the subject: It is probably wise not to comment on topics about which you "know nothing." (Your words.) Instead, it may be more profitable to read prayerfully and seek to learn.

  3. i am personaly blessed by your vivid explanation about our doctrine as Adventist regarding the Investigative Judgement. Thank Mike

  4. Last Sabbath, while teaching the lesson which included the the Final Judgment, I spent a little time reviewing the Investigative Judgment, mentioning that it was a doctrine much questioned both inside and outside the church. (I noticed some vigorous head nodding.) I used your approach of demonstrating the necessity of some kind of investigative judgment, given our belief in free will and Christ bringing His reward with Him at the Second Advent. From what I could tell, this approach was really helpful, as everyone could see the logic of it.

    I also compared the Investigative Judgment to an Investigative Hearing, which is part of our court system in this part of the world: An investigative hearing is held to determine whether there is a case against the accused. And in the spiritual realm, there is no case against the accused when we are "in Christ" because He takes our place. Case dismissed! Thus those who are "in Christ" never have to enter into judgment. (The only question to be determined is whether or not they are actually "in Christ.")

    • That's good Inge. I agree with the 'In Christ' idea in principle but don't use it much because people don't always know what to make of it. 'How do I know if I'm in Christ or not? Is it just a decision I made a long time ago? Is it a daily decision where I can be in and out of Christ 50 times in a day and then I have to worry about being unlucky enough to die at the wrong moment?'

    • Yes, Inge - its much easier to show that there must be some kind of investigative judgement, than to start believing a set year (1844) as when it started. I have learned from my own experience that the brain needs a little time to assimilate and cement knowledge. Going by that reasoning, it would be much easier to present the formal Adventist understanding of the IJ, once a basic acceptance is achieved.

  5. I agree with Mike Manea that it is best to build on a protestant foundation before introducing the doctrine that the 2300 days ended in 1844. I submit, further, that it is best to build on a protestant foundation before trying to explain what occurred (or began) in 1844.

    My parents were adventists before I was born (1944). I grew up thinking of adventists as being more protestant than members of other denominations. I still think there are thousands (and there may well be hundreds of thousands) of adventists who are more protestant than members of other denominations.

    Between 1846 (the publication date of the famous Day Star extra by Crosier) and 1888, there was so much emphasis on what Ellen White would later call, “the law, the law, the law”, perhaps it should come as no surprise that the language employed by adventists for explaining the cleansing of the sanctuary was designed to encourage law keeping.

    I think we should continue to emphasize law keeping but only in ways that are compatible with protestant principles. Which means that we should rethink HOW the cleansing of the sanctuary is explained. To the extent that the explanation can be consistent with protestant principles, protestants in other denominations will find it much more attractive.

    It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I thought I could explain the cleansing of the sanctuary in ways that were compatible with protestant principles. Over the years, I have encountered a number of adventists who have taught things that are not essential to that doctrine as I understand it--things that create significant barriers to dialogue between protestant adventists and other protestants. Examples include the adventist who told me the core of the adventist message is that “Satan is our sin-bearer”, the teacher of an adult Sabbath School class who insisted that no one’s sins are forgiven until his name comes up in the investigative judgment and the teaching that God will arbitrarily close human probation.

    The subject of building adventist doctrines on bedrock protestant principles deserves much more study.

  6. I am a lifelong Lutheran, recently made made aware of the Saturday Sabbath which I now observe and keep holy. I also have come to the realization that the ashes imposed on our forehead every Ash Wednesday may indeed be the sign of the Beast. And I now understand how the Roman Catholic church has changed the Ten Commandments. I have left my church and trying to find a new fellowship. New knowledge can be comforting or distressing. I enjoyed your article and agree with all but one point. Even as a studied Lutheran, I do not know my church's position on what happens to us when we die. Being a cancer survivor, it matters to me now. There are so many viewpoints on this issue. But after certain evidential events in my life, I am convinced that we move, if worthy, into heaven upon death. That is, the choice to be a follower of Christ has to be made before death occurs. I believe the close of probation will apply to those still alive through the seven plagues. It is they who will be taken up upon the Second Coming. But, my beliefs leave me with one unanswered question that SDA seems to have answered. Where does your understanding come from that we "soul sleep"? I cannot prove my beliefs, nobody has come back to tell us what really happens. How did this SDA theory come to fruition?

    • Judith, as I understand it we believe the Bible teaches that humans are an indivisible unity of body, mind and spirit, Gen 2:7, they are not a body with an immortal soul, only God is immortal 1Tim 6:15-16. Only those who believe in Jesus receive eternal life John 3:16 and only receive it after Jesus' Second Coming 1Cor 15:16-23,51-54, so when a person dies he sleeps in the grave until the resurrection John 5:28-29, 1Thess 4:13-17.

      Naturally there are more passages that cover this belief, see this link for a more in depth discussion.
      Death in the light of the Cross

  7. Judith, your conversion and subsequent growth in faith is very encouraging. I was raised as an Episcopalian, which a friend later told me meant I didn't have a lot to unlearn.

    The judgment is a concept which is still very much debated, which I love to defend from the Bible. I hope you enjoy growing with it as I have over the past 30 years since I became a Seventh-day Adventist.

    Recently I did an intense study of 2 Cor 5:10, which had bothered me because I had imagined that there was a mismatch in Seventh-day Adventist theology. To my delight my deeper study showed a consistent understanding.

    Believers get a "pass" on the judgment which the unbelievers experience because their (believers') life record goes before on the books. Jesus has his life and record to defend in our behalf at the throne.(Rev 19:11-13; Rev20 1-5) This latter text shows two different judgments, and we believers stand with Jesus to be defended before our accuser Satan. So 2Cor5:10 is not about standing physically, but standing in right relation. And the judgment we each experience as believers is the blessing of Jesus talking righteousness into our heart each day. When we receive his daily encouragement into our heart and expressed in our daily activity the text says it is good. When we ignore Him, it is bad. Be ruthless with the original text, there are supplied words which twist the meaning. Again in vs 13, when we are without God, we are ignorant at least and suffer. (Again watch for supplied words in vs 13). So Paul's conclusion? Accepting Jesus is the final judgment in anticipation, that His life was given for mine, so He died and "all were dead". Dead to my sins and dead to future consequences that Satan will accuse me (in that judgment when he is called to account, and tries to implicate me).

    So the judgment is done, is being done, and will be done. It is done in that Christ died for all, it is being done as Christ speaks to my soul, and will be done as He defend my case over Satan's accusations.

    God bless!


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