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Contents

Introduction............................................................................................................................................. 2 1. 1.1. 1.2. Will there be a pre-Advent judgment? .............................................................................................. 3 The Pre-Advent Judgment and 1844 ............................................................................................. 8 Did Christs Ministry End at the Cross? ....................................................................................... 9

1.3 The Pre-Advent Judgment is Not Uniquely Adventist ...................................................................... 10 2. 2.1. 3. 3.1. 4. 4.1. 4.2. 4.3. 5. The Pre-Advent Judgment and Righteousness by Faith................................................................... 11 What Does it Mean to be Judged? .............................................................................................. 15 Ellen G. White and the Investigative Judgment .............................................................................. 16 Troubling Ellen G. White Statements ......................................................................................... 17 What Difference Does it Make? ..................................................................................................... 20 Benefit for the Angels ................................................................................................................ 21 Benefit for Man ......................................................................................................................... 23 Character of God........................................................................................................................ 24 Conclusion .................................................................................................................................... 24

Bibliography ......................................................................................................................................... 26

Introduction The uniqueness of the sanctuary doctrine helps make it a prime target for attack.1 Although many of our doctrines are shared in other denominations the pre-Advent judgment being uniquely our own, has also laid us open as a church to more opprobrium, ridicule, and scorn from other Christian churches than any other doctrine. 2 If this wasnt bad in and of itself, writing in Christianity Today, former Adventist David Neff has said that few contemporary Adventists can explain it [the investigative judgment] and few Adventist theologians still teach it. 3 Neffs statement has in fact been a reality in my own life. Therefore, as I prepared to write this paper, I told my wife that the outcome of my research would determine whether or not I remained a Seventh-day Adventist. Like the vast majority of Seventh-day Adventists, the pre-Advent judgment was a doctrine that I knew little about. Had I been required to defend it or simply to teach it, I would have been entirely incapable of performing the task. This is a sad reality considering the fact that the understanding and embrace of the pre-Advent judgment doctrine is rather unique to Adventism (though not fully as we will later see). After weeks of study on the topic from both proponents and antagonists to this teaching, I have come to realize that the doctrine of the pre-Advent judgment is the simplest and most logical conclusion to be derived from the Bible. In the pages that follow, I will attempt to retrace some of the steps of my journey to this discovery. In the process I will demonstrate that the Bible truly supports the idea of a preAdvent judgment, that the pre-Advent judgment correlates perfectly to righteousness by faith, and that Ellen G. White is not necessary to believe in the pre-Advent judgment. I will then conclude at last by exploring some of Ellen G. Whites legalistic statements with relation to the

1 2

Clifford Goldstein, False Balances [Boise: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1992], 24. ibid. 3 ibid., 23.

pre-Advent judgment and the difference that such a doctrine would make in the life of a bornagain Christian. Before I begin I must make a few qualifications. Number one, this is not an exhaustive resource on the topic of the pre-Advent judgment. There are many aspects of the pre-Advent judgment that I will not cover in this paper such as the prophecies of Daniel 7-9, the validity of Adventisms understanding of the prophetic timeline, and the sanctuary service, its differing components, and how they each relate to the pre-Advent judgment. Number two, in presenting the doctrine of pre-Advent judgment I will use the Bible and the Bible alone. Ellen White will only be mentioned in a section designated specifically for an analysis of her relationship to the doctrine, but will not be used in any way as a basis, supplement, or substitute for the Bible. Likewise, Adventists have been accused of basing the doctrine of the pre-Advent judgment on Daniel 8:14: He said to me, It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated.4 Therefore, I will establish the validity of a pre-Advent judgment without any mention to this text.

1. Will there be a Pre-Advent judgment?

What exactly is the pre-Advent judgment? To put it simply, the pre-advent judgment (also known as the investigative judgment) teaches that the final judgment will take place before the second coming of Christ. During this judgment the lives of every person, both believers and unbelievers alike, will be investigated. Marvin Moore, author of The Case for the Investigative Judgment put it well when he wrote, The idea that God will conduct an investigative judgment

Dan. 8:14.

someday is very biblical. In Ecclesiastes 12:14, Solomon said, God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil. Thus, our works, our words, and even our thoughts (the secret things) will be examined in Gods final judgment. Thats investigative judgment.5 The Bible itself has much to say on the topic of judgment and without a doubt it should. Looking around at the world, we shouldnt have a problem understanding the idea of judgment and condemnation. One doesnt have to be a believing Christian to realize that something is radically wrong with humanity. Who cant see what a royal mess, even disaster, weve made of things?... Who hasnt been the victim of just how greedy, selfish, and mean people can be? Or who hasnt at some point been the greedy, selfish, and mean one?6 Victims of crime cry out for justice, families of those who have been murdered do likewise. Judgment seems to be a natural and intimate human desire. With this in mind, judgment becomes the fulfillment of humanitys hopes and yearnings7 for it is where the wounded find closure and the broken healing. In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon says, Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.8 David wrote in the Psalms, Let all creation rejoice before the LORD, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness 9 In the New Testament, Jesus reaffirms the concept of a final judgment when he says, I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.10 Paul also reiterates the concept of a final judgment when he wrote, For we must all

Marvin Moore, The Case For The Investigative Judgment: Its Biblical Foundation [Nampa: Pacific Press, 2010], 21. 6 Jo Ann Davidson, Principal Contributor. Glimpses Of Our God: Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide [Nampa: Pacific Press, 2012], 35. 7 Jacques B Doukhan, Secrets of Daniel: Wisdom and Dreams of a Jewish Prince in Exile [Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 2000], 112. 8 Ecc. 11:9 [NIV]. 9 Psa. 96:13. 10 Matt. 12:36.

appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.11 However, while it is clear that there will be a judgment through these verses, they say nothing about the judgment taking place before the second coming of Jesus. According to these verses the Day of Judgment can just as easily be on the day of Christs return as they could before his return. Desmond Ford, former Adventist minister, writes: Why must [I] reject the two-phased ministry of Christ and the [pre-Advent] judgment? my answer is Because it is nowhere taught in the New Testament or, indeed, in the Old Testament.12 Hence, based on Fords statement and the question posed beforehand, How is it that the Seventh-day Adventist church can be so sure that the judgment is a pre-Advent judgment? Adventist minister Martin Weber has a simple way of explaining it. When Jesus comes again Weber says, He will separate the sheep (His true believers) from the goats (unbelievers and pseudo-disciples). See Matt. 25:31-46. Obviously He will have already decided by that time who are the sheep and who are the goats, so there has to be a pre-Advent judgment.13 In addition, Pauls verse quoted above states that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us. Thus, according to Paul, when we appear before the judgment seat of Christ, we appear not to be judged but to receive our reward. Therefore, it is implied that the judgment has taken place already. Jesus also said, Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come outthose who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. 14 Once again, the implication is that a decision has been
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2 Cor. 5:10. Martin Weber, Never Before Published Desmond Ford Dialogues About the 1844 Judgment, Ford And Weber Dialogue, Section II: Fords Critique Of Weber, Scribd, http://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/17458843 [accessed Feb 1, 2012]. 13 Martin Weber, Pre-Advent Judgment, SDA For Me, http://www.sdaforme.com/issues/judgement/judgment.html [accessed January 31, 2012]. 14 John 5:28-29.

made as to who will receive life and who will not, therefore, it is safe to deduce that a judgment has taken place before the resurrection (which takes place at the second coming of Christ). In connection with the second coming, Jesus also said, Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. 15 Once again, the words of Jesus infer that a judgment has already taken place, or else how could He already have the reward? In addition, there is also evidence in the book of Daniel of a pre-Advent judgment that is to take place before the second coming of Jesus. Why the book of Daniel? Because the book of Daniel is the only book in the Old Testament that contains predictions that span all the way across history to our present day. 16 For this reason the book of Daniel is said to contain apocalyptic literature, which is literature concerned with the future and often reveal Gods eschatological judgment.17 Because Daniel is a primary source for Old Testament eschatology18 it is only logical to presume that Daniel would have something to say about an event that occurs at the end of time. Indeed, Daniel has much to say about the pre-Advent judgment. Daniel chapter seven makes the first reference to a judgment taking place during earths history. In this chapter Daniel has seen a vision that spans from his day (the time of the Babylonian reign) to the end of time. Four beasts are present in the chapter which according to verse 17 are also four kings which arise out of the earth.19 After these four kings Daniel says As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat The court was
15 16

Rev. 22:12 The book of Isaiah contains what is referred to as the Little Apocalypse. However, the book of Daniel is the main source of Apocalyptic literature in the Old Testament. 17 Bill T. Arnold and Brian E. Beyer, Encountering the Old Testament: A Christian Survey, 2nd ed. [Grand Rapids, Baker Academic, 2008], 428. 18 ibid., 433. 19 Dan. 7:17.

seated, and the books were opened.20 This scenario clearly depicts a judgment scene. Then, when the judgment scene is complete Daniel goes on to say In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. 21 According to Daniels vision, the judgment takes place before the second coming of Jesus. Based on this evidence I propose that even if one is to reject the concept of an investigative judgment, one cannot pretend it has no biblical basis whatsoever. It is clear from the Bible and the Bible alone that a judgment will take place before the second coming of Christ. In addition to texts that support this position, stories in the Bible do likewise. When Adam and Eve sinned, Gods first action was one of investigation. Instead of God entering Eden with judgment for His rebellious creation, He entered with the question Where are you? 22 From there God proceeded to ask many other questions which are typical of investigation. John T. Anderson, author of Investigating the Judgment points this out along with many other examples in which God investigated before He acted such as in the story of the Flood, the Tower of Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah, the Passover, the Fall of Jerusalem, Babylon and others. Anderson states that [o]ne would have a hard time finding an example in the biblical record in which God executed judgment in a significant way before first taking that extra step of investigating. 23 Therefore, not only can we find texts that show an investigative judgment taking place before Christs second coming, but we can also find examples of God investigating events throughout the Bible before He implements His final decision. No doubt you might be saying right now to

20 21

Dan. 7:9-10. Dan. 7:13. 22 Gen. 3:9. 23 John T. Anderson, Investigating the Judgment: A Revolutionary Look At Gods Total Fairness And Relentless Effort To Save Us, [Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 2003], 105.

yourself: But God doesnt need to inquire He already knows everything. And youre right! But as we shall see, it isnt for Gods direct benefit that He does this. 24 In summary, in the Old Testament a judgment was said to come in the future. Some would suggest that that judgment was completed at the cross; however, New Testament references to a future judgment show us that the judgment day spoken of throughout the Bible was not fulfilled at the cross.25 New Testament writers are unanimous that the judgment is a future event [sic] which takes place at the end of the age (John 5:28m 29; 12:48).26 Therefore, the judgment takes place after the death of Christ (A.D. 31) but before the second coming of Jesus as we have seen.27 Hence, the judgment could have begun at any point between A.D. 31 and the second coming of Jesus. For that reason, based on both textual and exemplary evidence it is clear that the concept of a pre-Advent investigative judgment is one-hundred percent biblical.

1.1.The Pre-Advent Judgment and 1844

There are yet other aspects of the pre-Advent judgment that must be considered. The first is that Seventh-day Adventists believe and teach that the pre-Advent judgment began in the year A.D. 1844. Due to space limitations I will not seek to explain that here. Suffice it to say that if the judgment could have begun at any point between A.D. 31 and the second coming of Jesus then the year 1844 does not seem as ridiculous as it might first appear. For a more detailed and

24 25

ibid., 23. Mat. 7:22, 10:15, 12:41; Luk. 11:31; Act. 25:6; 1 Co. 4:5; Heb. 10:27; 1 Jn. 4:17. 26 Leslie Hardinge, With Jesus in His Sanctuary: A Walk Through the Tabernacle Along His Way [Harrisburg: American Cassette Ministries, 1991], 538. 27 For a study on the date of Christs crucifixion see: Nichols, Francis, D., eds. The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary: A Basis For New Testament Chronology. Vol. 5 Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 1976. 251-254. The commonly accepted date by many scholars ranges from A.D. 30 31.

thorough explanation on the validity of 1844 I recommend The Case for the Investigative Judgment by Marvin Moore and 1844 Made Simple by Clifford Goldstein.

1.2. Did Christs Ministry End at the Cross?

The second aspect that must be considered is that the pre-Advent judgment teaches that when the judgment began Jesus began a special work in heaven. That special work is the work of cleansing the sanctuary. During this time not only the wicked but also the righteous are said to be judged.28 This judgment then is said to determine the fate of everyone who has ever lived. Opponents of the pre-Advent judgment often critique this doctrine by saying that it teaches that Christ work was not completed on the cross. We believe that the Bible teaches that the work of Christ is a finished workfinished on the cross29 they say. They then quote Jesus words just before His death when He says, It is finished.30 According to this critique, the death of Christ marked the end of Christs ministry. Everything was fulfilled at the cross, therefore, how can we say that Christ began another phase of His ministry in 1844? While I agree that Christs work of salvation was finished at the cross and that nothing more is needed for the salvation of man, several texts can help us see that Christs ministry did not, as is often asserted, end at the cross. For starters, Paul tells us that if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.31 Therefore, it was not sufficient that Christ died for us, but He had to be raised again. Had Christ not risen, His work of redemption would have been incomplete and we are
28

For thousands of years, from the times of the tabernacle in the wilderness until today, the Jews celebrated the cleansing of the sanctuary (Yom Kippur) the Day of Atonement as the great judgment day. Clifford Goldstein, 1844 Made Simple [Boise: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1988], 39. Thus, the cleansing of the sanctuary and the judgment are the same event. 29 James E. Bear, Bible and Modern Religions, Part 1 :The Seventh-Day Adventists, ATLA Religion Database [1956]: 11, http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.southern.edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=18fbeee8-62944b74-8d94-1d0a16d2b8f9%40sessionmgr10&vid=4&hid=24 [accessed April 1, 2012]. 30 John 19:30. 31 1 Cor. 15:14.

still in [our] sins and thus, of all people most to be pitied. 32 Evangelical Christian evangelist Billy Graham also agrees that Christs ministry did not end at the cross. In his book, The Holy Spirit, Graham says, Quite clearly Jesus did not say that His death on the cross would mark the cessation of His ministry. The night before His death He repeatedly told the disciples that He would send the Holy Spirit.33 Christ not only sent us the Holy Spirit, He also help[s] those who are being tempted and rescues the godly from trials.34 In addition to all of this, the ministry of Jesus would also be incomplete without the second coming. With this evidence in mind, I suggest that although Christs sacrifice is all-sufficient for mans salvation, it is not unbiblical to teach that His ministry was not completed at the cross.35

1.3 The Pre-Advent Judgment is Not Uniquely Adventist

The third aspect of the pre-Advent judgment I would like to explore is the allegation that it is an attempt [i]n trying to defend 1844 after the failure of Christ's return. 36 This critique presupposes that the Seventh-day Adventist understanding of the pre-Advent investigative judgment [is a] unique Adventist contribution to biblical theology.37 However, it is misleading to say that the doctrine of a pre-Advent judgment in Daniel is unique to Seventh-day

32 33

1 Cor. 15:17, 19. Billy Graham, The Holy Spirit: Activating Gods Power in Your Life [W Publishing Group, 1988], 71. 34 Heb. 2:18., 2 Pet. 2:9. 35 It is however, unbiblical and heretical to teach that Christs sacrifice was not enough and that He needs to do more in order to save us. Hebrews is clear Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. Heb. 7:27. Italics mine. 36 Martin Weber, Never Before Published Desmond Ford Dialogues About the 1844 Judgment, Ford And Weber Dialogue, Section II: Fords Critique Of Weber, Scribd, http://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/17458843 [accessed Mar 31, 2012]. Note: The Millerites originally thought that 1844 marked the date for the return of Jesus. After Jesus did not come back many went back to their Bibles to discover what had gone wrong. In the process they discovered that Christ was not meant to return but that he was engaging in the second phase of His ministry in the heavenly sanctuary on that date. Thus, many critics have taken the pre-Advent judgment to be an attempt to explain away why Christ did not return. 37 Gerhard Pfandl, Daniel: The Seer of Babylon [Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 2004], 68.

Adventism. After all, many others have found a pre-Advent judgment in Daniel 7. 38 If this is so, then the allegation that the investigative judgment is simply a new way of explaining the Great Disappointment39 is not true. Indeed, Seventh-day Adventists are far from the only ones to ever discover the doctrine of the pre-Advent judgment. Gerhard Pfandl, author of Daniel: The Seer of Babylon identifies several non-Adventist theologians who have taught the pre-Advent judgment. Lutheran Joseph A. Seiss, for example, wrote: The resurrection, and the changes which pass upon the living, are themselves the fruits and embodiments of antecedent judgment. Strictly speaking, men are neither raised nor translated, in order to come to judgment. Resurrections and translations are products of judgment previously passed. 40 In addition, Pfandl quotes Catholic author F. Dusterwald and Protestant interpreter T. Robinson as having understood the book of Daniel to teach a pre-Advent judgment.

2. The Pre-Advent Judgment and Righteousness by Faith

The pre-Advent judgment is biblical. That much is clearly seen. However, one of the greatest attacks against the pre-Advent judgment doctrine is that anyone who believes it cannot have assurance of salvation. Marvin Moore once met a man who told him that, with a doctrine like that, no one can ever have assurance of salvation. 41 The reason for this is that the pre-Advent judgment teaches that in 1844 Jesus began the work of investigating and judging both the saved and the lost. Therefore, many have come to teach and believe that unless you are living a perfect life by the time your name comes up in the judgment you will be eternally lost. Thus, former
38

George R. Knight, The Apocalyptic Vision and the Neutering of Adventism: Are We Erasing Our Relevancy? [Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 2008], 70. 39 Teresa and Arthur Beem. Its Okay NOT To Be A Seventh-Day Adventist: The Untold History and the Doctrine that Attempts to Repair the Temple Veil [North Charleston: BookSurge Publishing, 2008], 107. 40 Gerhard Pfandl, Daniel: The Seer of Babylon [Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 2004], 70. 41 Marvin Moore, The Case For The Investigative Judgment: Its Biblical Foundation [Nampa: Pacific Press, 2010], 19.

Adventists Teresa and Arthur Beem can say, In the investigative judgment you will not be judged by your belief in Christ but by how well you kept the Ten Commandments. 42 Such a teaching is damaging to the Christian faith because it completely undermines the doctrine of righteousness by faith in Christ alone. Growing up, my wife was taught that she did not know when her name would come up in the judgment. If it did and she was found not worthy of eternal life because she was sinning at the moment (or some other reason), then she would be lost forever and not know it. She could continue to strive to follow Jesus for the rest of her life, but this would be in vain since she was already lost. Clifford Goldsteins wife was taught a similar version of the pre-Advent judgment. Goldstein writes: My wife [was taught] that the judgment is going on in heaven right now, and that our names may come up at any time. We cant know when that happens, but when it does, our names are blotted out of the book of life if we are not absolutely perfect. We are lost. We wont know it, and we may keep on struggling to be perfect, even though probation has closed for us and we have no hope. Cliff went on to say, Such a teaching is not good news43 and I whole heartedly agree. Not only is such teaching not good news it is also a vile distortion of what the investigative judgment is all about. Jud Lake, professor of theology at Southern Adventist University reminds us that according to Daniel 7, The judgment was rendered in favor of the saints. Jesus is our advocate and in the judgment [sic] we are acquitted [sic] because of His merits, not our own.44 Unfortunately, as George Knight pointed out in his book, The Apocalyptic Vision and the Neutering of Adventism, The tragedy of Adventism is that we made the pre-Advent judgment a fearful thing. Spiritual insecurity and lack of biblical assurance was the result. God is out to
42

Teresa and Arthur Beem, Its Okay NOT To Be A Seventh-Day Adventist: The Untold History and the Doctrine that Attempts to Repair the Temple Veil [North Charleston: BookSurge Publishing, 2008], 114. 43 Marvin Moore, The Case For The Investigative Judgment: Its Biblical Foundation [Nampa: Pacific Press, 2010], 20. 44 Jud Lake, e-mail message to author, January 31, 2012.

get you was the message45 However, Knight goes on to establish that, [t]he purpose of the judgment in the Bible is not to keep people out of heaven, but to get as many in as possible.46 Therefore, the accusation that the pre-Advent judgment is inherently legalistic and that it is impossible to have assurance of salvation and believe in the investigative judgment simultaneously is true but only part way. The accusation is true if one believes the distortions of the investigative judgment. But if one bases the investigative judgment on the Bible then the accusation no longer stands. Scripture is clear that, by grace you have been saved, through faithand this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.47 Paul warns You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 48 Therefore, to interpret the pre-Advent judgment to mean that believers must be absolutely perfect at every moment or else they are at risk of losing their salvation goes contrary to the truth that all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.49 Once again, Moore offers a helpful insight when he writes, the judgment depends on whether were asleep in Jesus (if weve died before the judgment) or abiding in Christ (if were still living). It depends on whether we believe in Jesus, not on how well weve lived that is, on our good behavior.50 Adventist authors have emphasized over the years again and again that our standing in the judgment is not based on our works but Christs perfect work. Unfortunately many Seventh-day Adventists have had their faith damaged by the errors of their parents, teachers, and spiritual leaders who have taken a legalistic stance on the judgment. Leslie Hardinge, author of With
45

George R. Knight, The Apocalyptic Vision and the Neutering of Adventism: Are We Erasing Our Relevancy? [Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 2008], 70. 46 ibid. 47 Eph. 2:8. 48 Gal. 5:4. 49 Rom. 3:24. 50 Marvin Moore, The Case For The Investigative Judgment: Its Biblical Foundation [Nampa: Pacific Press, 2010], 32.

Jesus In His Sanctuary tells us that [i]n preparing for the judgment the important thing is not to think of what we have done wrong, or anything we might contribute, but on Whom we know.51 And in his little book The Great Judgment Day Adventist author John L. Shuler writes: Our only hope in the judgment is to be hid in Christ (Col. 3: 3), clothed with His righteousness. His life alone will meet the requirements of the law by which we shall be judged. Thus through the work of Christ in our hearts we shall be accounted worthy in the judgment.52 Shuler goes on to say that [i]f we are abiding in Jesus Christ, it is our privilege to face the judgment with perfect confidence.53 This is good news for many Adventists who have misunderstood the preAdvent judgment, however, what a shame that Gods people would for one moment forget such a beautiful truth that Gods justice was satisfied in Christ, who endured the death penalty instead of the sinner.54 Without it, our faith is meaningless. Christs perfect atonement must forever be our theme and song, for it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes55 Clifford Goldstein put it well when he wrote, This is the essence of the gospel, the good news. No matter who we are or what weve done, Jesus Christ can forgive everything and allow us to stand in the sight of God as perfect and as accepted by the Father as He was, because He will freely credit to us, as undeserving as we are, His perfect righteousness.56

51

Leslie Hardinge, With Jesus in His Sanctuary: A Walk Through the Tabernacle Along His Way [Harrisburg: American Cassette Ministries, 1991], 543. 52 John L Shuler, The Great Judgment Day: In the Light of the Sanctuary Service, [Washington: Review and Herald, 1923], 117. Italics mine. 53 Ibid., Italics mine. 54 Alberto R Treiyer, The Day of Atonement and the Heavenly Judgment: From the Pentateuch to Revelation, [Siloam Springs: Creation Enterprises International, 1992], 221. 55 Rom. 1:16. 56 Clifford Goldstein, False Balances [Boise: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1992], 147.

2.1.What Does it Mean to be Judged?

Nonetheless, doesnt the very concept of being judged imply that God is looking for something wrong by which to accuse us? The Bibles answer is no, for the title of accuser is one that is reserved for Satan the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night.57 God on the other hand, is shown throughout the Bible to be the savior, not the accuser.58 In his book More Adventist Hot Potatoes Martin Weber notes that, the ancient Hebrew meaning of judgment was quite different from our Western legal system. Our society requires judges and juries to be strictly neutral. If they harbor a bias either in favor or against the accused, our law demands that they disqualify themselves. Not so in Bible times. Back then, the legal code required judges to abandon neutrality and take the side of the defendant. The defense of the accused was a duty so sacred that the judge refused to delegate it to a defense attorney. Instead, he himself served as the defender of the accused. 59 This understanding paints a completely different picture of the pre-Advent judgment. Though many have twisted this doctrine and turned it into the icon for legalism, a biblical approach does just the opposite, for it teaches that right now, God is in heaven doing everything He can to save as many as possible. Thus, George Knight can say, It is crucial to understand that God as our Judge is on our side. He is not against us or even neutral. He sent His son because He loves us and wants to save as many people as possible. And He will save all of those who will be happy in His kingdom. Thus judgment is not a fearful thing to a Christian. 60

57 58

Rev. 12:10. John 3:16-17. 59 Martin Weber, More Adventist Hot Potatoes [Boise: Pacific Press, 1992], 81. 60 George R. Knight, I Used To Be Perfect: A Study of Sin and Salvation [Berrien Springs: Andrews University Press, 2001], 54.

3. Ellen G. White and the Investigative Judgment

Up to this point I have avoided all reference to Ellen G. White. The reason why is because many challengers have accused Seventh-day Adventists on basing their pre-Advent judgment doctrine on Ellen White and not on the Bible. However, Jud Lake, an Adventist minister who ardently defends the ministry of Ellen White boldly asserts that [n]o doctrine of the SDA church is based on [Ellen G. White]. 61 However, although sola scriptura is the official Adventist position, not all Adventists think this way. Clifford Goldstein confesses that at one point in his early Christian walk he, had seen charts, had read about 1844, and believed it because Ellen White believed it, and [he] believed in what she believed.62 Although Goldstein eventually came to base all of his beliefs (including the pre-Advent judgment) on the Bible and the Bible alone, (along with countless others) many still accuse the Seventh-day Adventist church of basing their pre-Advent judgment doctrine on Ellen G. White. Nonetheless, such a claim need not be taken seriously. As we have seen, a Biblical basis can be established for the belief in a pre-Advent judgment apart from the ministry of Ellen White. In other words, Ellen White is not needed in order to come to a knowledge of the investigative judgment. If she were, then how is it that Lutheran Joseph A. Seiss, Catholic F. Dusterwald, and Protestant T. Robinson all arrived at the same conclusion when none of them used Ellen White? Marvin Moore summarizes it well when he states, Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen White received the gift of prophecy in the same sense that the Bible writers did, that the Holy Spirit inspired her in the same way He

61 62

Jud Lake, e-mail to author, January 31, 2012. Clifford Goldstein, 1844 Made Simple [Boise: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1988], 7.

inspired them. However, we also affirm that the Bible is the foundation of our faith and that our major teachings are based on Scripture, not on what Ellen White said. 63

3.1.Troubling Ellen G. White Statements

Even though Ellen White is not necessary for an understanding of the investigative judgment, a review of some of her statements is necessary. At first glance, it appears that many of Ellen Whites statements are inherently legalistic. In her book, Christ Object Lessons, White says, Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.64 Again she writes in Our High Calling, Are we striving with all our power to attain to the stature of men and women in Christ? Are we seeking for His fullness, ever pressing toward the mark set before usthe perfection of His character? When the Lords people reach this mark, they will be sealed in their foreheads. 65 In her highly esteemed book The Great Controversy, White once again deals a devastating blow to righteousness by faith when she says, Satan could find nothing in the Son of God that would enable him to gain the victory. He had kept His Fathers commandments, and there was no sin in Him that Satan could use to his advantage. This is the condition in which those must be found who shall stand in the time of trouble.66 A similar thought can be found in Early Writings when White writes, I also saw that many do not realize what they must be in order to live in the sight of the Lord without a high priest in the sanctuary through the time of trouble. Those who receive the seal of the living God
63

Marvin Moore, The Case For The Investigative Judgment: Its Biblical Foundation [Nampa: Pacific Press, 2010], 317. 64 Ellen G White, Christ Object Lessons, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 69. 65 ibid., Our High Calling, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 150. 66 ibid., The Great Controversy, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 623.

and are protected in the time of trouble must reflect the image of Jesus fully. 67 These statements appear to be the epitome of legalism, and rightly so. To summarize everything just quoted would be to say that in order to enter heaven we must be perfect. Teresa Beem points out the legalistic language in some of Whites statements with reference to the pre-Advent judgment when she says, The time of Atonement is especially scary for the believer. It is a time to reach perfection.68 And indeed White says, Though all nations are to pass in judgment before God, yet he will examine the case of each individual with as close and searching scrutiny as if there were not another being upon the earth. Every one must be tested, and found without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. 69 With this in mind, it appears that Ellen White has completely undone everything said in the above section on righteousness by faith. However, what critics and Adventists who point out these statements fail to see is that any statement taken out of its context can be made to say anything. Before concluding on Ellen White and the pre-Advent judgment let us turn to the Bible. Matthew records a story in which Jesus was approached by a young man and asked, What must I do to be saved? It is interesting to note that Jesus did not tell him, accept me as your personal savior and you will be saved but instead told him, If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.70 Jesus also said, If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.71 Later on He said, Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. 72 The
67 68

ibid., Early Writings, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 71. Teresa and Arthur Beem. Its Okay NOT To Be A Seventh-Day Adventist: The Untold History and the Doctrine that Attempts to Repair the Temple Veil [North Charleston: BookSurge Publishing, 2008], 112. 69 Ellen G White, The Great Controversy, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 489. 70 Matt. 19:16, 21. 71 Matt. 5:29. 72 Matt. 5:48.

apostle James writes, Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 73 And the apostle John wrote, Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.74 Each of these statements can be taken out of context to say that the Bible teaches righteousness by works. However, when we balance these statements with those on righteousness by faith we discover what these verses truly mean and that none of them advocate a performance based salvation. The same is true of Ellen White. While the quoted statements may seem legalistic when viewed in light of other statements and her ministry as a whole it becomes apparent that Ellen White never promoted a works based salvation. In Selected Messages, White says, We are not to be anxious about what Christ and God think of us, but about what God thinks of Christ, our Substitute. Ye are accepted in the Beloved. 75 Again White wrote: The law demands righteousness, and this the sinner owes to the law; but he is incapable of rendering it. The only way in which he can attain to righteousness is through faith. By faith he can bring to God the merits of Christ, and the Lord places the obedience of His Son to the sinners account.76 With quotes such as these in mind, it is clear that the same tension that exists in the Bible with regards to faith and works exist in Ellen Whites writings as well. The perfection that White says the sinner needs is not a self-fabricated perfection but the perfection of Christs sinless life covering our sinful lives. White spoke for herself when she said, [W]hile we should realize our sinful condition, we are to rely upon Christ as our righteousness, our sanctification, and our redemption. We cannot answer the charges of Satan against us. Christ alone can make an

73 74

Jam. 2:21. Rev. 22:14. 75 Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 2, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 32. 76 ibid., Selected Messages, book 1, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 32

effectual plea in our behalf. He is able to silence the accuser with arguments founded not upon our merits, but on His own. 77

4. What Difference Does it Make?

As noted earlier, the pre-advent judgment teaches that the final judgment will take place before the second coming of Christ. During this judgment the lives of every person, both believers and unbelievers alike, will be investigated. However, why does God need to investigate if He already knows everything? Martin Weber faced this same question while studying the topic of the preAdvent judgment. He writes: One evening we met in my living room to debate the judgment of 1844 in heaven's sanctuary. Perhaps we had our Bibles open but our minds closed, because we didn't seem to be getting anywhere. Finally one of my friends turned to me in exasperation. Tell me honestly, what difference does it make? I know I'm accepted in Christ, so what difference does it make whether or not there's a judgment going on in heaven now? 78 The first point we need to make in all of this is that the judgment is not for Gods information. God knows each of our hearts already. 79 So then, what is the judgment for? Before that question is answered, a few more questions need to be asked. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden by eating the forbidden fruit, Gods first reaction was to enter the garden and ask Adam where he was. 80 Why would God do this? Did God not know where Adam

77

Ellen G White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012], 472. 78 Martin Weber, More Adventist Hot Potatoes [Boise: Pacific Press, 1992], 77. 79 George R. Knight, The Apocalyptic Vision and the Neutering of Adventism: Are We Erasing Our Relevancy? [Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 2008], 70. 80 Gen. 3:9.

was? After Cain killed Abel, Gods first reaction once again was to ask Cain where Abel was. 81 Did not the all-knowing God know where Abel was? This scenario of investigation repeats itself over and over again in scripture and quite soon it becomes clear that the investigation is not for Gods benefit. Therefore, if the judgment is not for Gods benefit then logically it must be for the benefit of His creation as we will now see.

4.1.Benefit for the Angels Seventh-day Adventists believe in what they call the Great Controversy. The Great Controversy is the panoramic view that scripture gives of the battle between Christ and Satan. The Great Controversy points out that before there was sin, heaven was in perfect harmony. This was the state of things until Lucifer rebelled.82 The rebellion of Lucifer centered on the character of God.83 Lucifer accused God of being unjust, unfair, and that His law was arbitrary. 84 Lucifer was then cast out of heaven and came to the earth where he continued His rebellion. 85 We notice this in Satans temptation of Eve which was based on questioning the character of God. From there, Satan deceived Eve and both she and Adam sinned. The result of their sin is the sinful world that we now live in. Today, many people ask the question, Why didnt God just kill the devil when he first rebelled? The Great Controversy has the answer. Had God killed the devil, what would all of the other angels have thought? Scripture shows that Satans campaign against God was so deceptive that he took one third of the angels of heaven with him. 86 Had God simply killed Satan the other angels would have thought that God was trying to silence him and that perhaps Satan

81 82

Gen. 4:9. Isa. 14:12., Eze. 28:12-19. 83 Gen. 3:1-5., Job 4:12-18. 84 Job 1:6-11. 85 Luke 10:18., Rev. 12:9. 86 Rev. 12:4.

was on to something. Therefore, it was necessary for God to allow Satan to reveal to the angels who he truly was so that all of the angels could see that God was, is, and will forever be trustworthy. This revelation was fulfilled at the cross when every angel of God saw the selfsacrificing love of God come face to face with the self-centered malice of Satan. However, the battle is not over. Satan is the accuser and he accuses Gods people of being unworthy of salvation. 87 Even though God knows them that are his88 the angels dont. Therefore, the preAdvent judgment is an opportunity for heavens angels to examine Gods decisions versus Satans accusations and see for themselves that Gods decisions are right and that Satans accusations are without foundation. Heaven's pre-advent judgment does not investigate whether we are good enough but whether we have accepted our position in Christ's new humanity. God does not question our salvation but displays and defends it against the accusations of the devil. Therefore the judgment for believers is not a threat but a favor.89 In this way, the judgment is a benefit for the angels not for God. When the unfallen beings in the universe examine the records of the saints during the pre-Advent judgment, they will conclude that God has indeed been just and merciful in each case. In this way the character of God, which has been at the center of the great controversy between Christ and Satan, will be exonerated.90 The official position of the Seventh-day Adventist church with regard to the pre-Advent judgment says, The investigative judgment reveals to heavenly intelligences who among the dead are asleep in Christ and therefore, in Him, are deemed worthy to have part in the first resurrection. 91

87 88

Rev. 12:10., Zec. 3:1-4 2 Tim. 2:19. 89 Martin Weber, What's the bottom line relevance of the judgment in my life for Christ today? SDA for Me, http://www.sdaforme.com/FAQRetrieve.aspx?ID=38272 [accessed March 29, 2012]. 90 Gerhard Pfandl, Daniel: The Seer of Babylon [Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 2004], 73. 91 Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual, 17th ed., 18; emphasis added. quoted in Marvin Moore, The Case for the Investigative Judgment, Its Biblical Foundation, [Nampa: Pacific Press, 2010], 44. Note: The term worthy refers to Christs righteousness, never our own.

4.2.Benefit for Man The benefit of the pre-Advent judgment is not just for the angels but for man also. The primary purpose of the investigative pre-Advent judgment is the final confirmation of salvation and vindication of Gods people. 92 During the judgment, God shows the angels that those of us who have truly accepted Christ are worthy of salvation, not because of anything we have done, but because of what Christ has done in our place. The judgment then, calls each of us to Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in youunless, of course, you fail the test?93 What exactly does this mean? Does it mean that we should spend all of our days anxiously worrying about whether or not we truly have accepted Christ? No, for that goes contrary to righteousness by faith. What this does is it simply invites us to honestly access whether or not we are hypocrites claiming Christ as savior. I once met a young man who did drugs and slept with different women all the time, yet according to him he was saved and therefore he didnt worry about his eternal destiny. The judgment is a benefit for those with such a mindset because it shows us that only those who have accepted Christ as savior and Lord will be counted worthy. This young man was under a delusion of hope but the judgment breaks that delusion because it calls us to ask the question, Have I truly accepted Christ? Even today I still meet Adventists who are legalists and live as though their many good deeds can save them. Some think they are worthy because they are vegans, or because of their dress reform, or some other work, however, the investigative judgment destroys that delusion of false security by showing us that all of our righteousness is as filthy rags. 94 The pre-advent judgment then reminds us that we are to come to the cross with the deepest and most

92 93

ibid. 2 Cor. 13:5. 94 Isa. 64:6.

complete dependence upon the merits of Christ and Christ alone. One benefit of the judgment then is that it presents the cross before us in such power that it protects us from licentiousness and legalism at the same time.

4.3. Character of God

As noted earlier, the judgment also exonerates the character of God. Marvin Moore sums this aspect of the pre-Advent judgment well. Moore writes that the doctrine of the investigative judgment tells us that we serve a very transparent God.95 Imagine that God were not transparent but that instead He hid everything from His creation. Would that not imply that He had something to hide? The judgment however, shows us that God has absolutely nothing to hide.

5. Conclusion

In conclusion, it is clear from the Bible and the Bible only that the doctrine of the pre-Advent judgment is fully supported and that this doctrine does not contradict the foundational truth of righteousness by faith. An analysis of Ellen G. White shows that many of her statements, though seemingly legalistic, are no different from the many warnings in the Bible with regard to the Day of Judgment and when balanced with other statements are in fact not legalistic at all. Lastly, the pre-Advent judgment reveals to both men and angels that God is trustworthy, and it protects

95

Marvin Moore, The Case For The Investigative Judgment: Its Biblical Foundation [Nampa: Pacific Press, 2010], 337

sinners from both careless Christianity and legalism. The message is clear, God is our judge and If God is for us, who can be against us?96 Thats investigative judgment.97

96 97

Rom. 8:31. Marvin Moore, The Case For The Investigative Judgment: Its Biblical Foundation [Nampa: Pacific Press, 2010], 21.

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