Posts tagged Ellen G. White
Ellen G. White and Conspiracy Narratives

I recently shared an article titled The End Times and Conspiracy Narratives. In it I shared some thoughts regarding the relationship between Christians in general and the ever increasing popularity of conspiracy narratives. In this post, I would like to focus more on Seventh-day Adventists and their relationship to conspiracy narratives/theories by sharing some thoughts from the life of church co-founder and prophetess Ellen G. White.

The first thing to point out is that Ellen White didn’t really deal with the issue of conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories, while growing in her day, where not as widespread as they are today. However, she certainly lived in a time when indulgence in conspiracy theories was growing. The Illuminati and Free Masons were already on the scene, and strange narratives regarding their agenda, power, and political control were spreading. In an article in Publiceye.org titled “The Illuminati Freemason Conspiracy” the author states that “[t]he idea of a widespread freemason conspiracy originated in the late 1700's and flourished in the US in the 1800's.”[i] Nevertheless, Ellen White herself never engaged in such activity. 

For example, the Illuminati was founded in 1776, just fifty-one years before Ellen White was born. If knowledge of the Illuminati and their inner workings were necessary then apparently God didn’t see fit to tell Ellen White about it. In all of her writings there is not one syllable devoted to the Illuminati. The Free Masons were also born late in the 16th or early 17th century. During Ellen Whites day, Free Mason conspiracy theories abounded. Yet once again, Ellen Whites writings are void of such conspiracy theories.

Ellen White did talk about the Free Masons. Nevertheless, when dealing with the Free Masons it’s important to note what she said and what she didn’t say. Ellen White counseled, under Gods direction, that Christians stay away from the Free Mason society for practical and obvious reasons. She even worked personally with an Adventist who was involved in the fraternity and God gave her special knowledge of their inner workings in order to impress upon the mind of this man that he was indeed speaking through her. However, not only did Ellen White never go on to share the inside knowledge God gave her in any of her work, but even the reasons she gave in opposition to joining the fraternity were simply practical and void of any promulgation of conspiracy narratives.

So far we have seen that Ellen White, though certainly having had opportunities, never engaged in conspiracy theory talk. This should in and of itself cause those of us who value her prophetic example and are nevertheless fascinated with such things to wonder if perhaps we are wasting our time with pointless investigations. However, I would also like to point out some quotations from Ellen White (with personal comments in brackets) that give us principles to keep in mind when dealing with this issue.

“We need far less controversy [a characteristic of conspiracy theories], and far more presentation of Christ. Our Redeemer is the center of all our faith and hope” (EV, 172).

“Our work is not to make a raid on the Government but to prepare a people to stand in the great day of the Lord. The fewer attacks we make on authorities and powers, the more work will we do for God....[Conspiracy theories do exactly what we are told not to do in this quote] Do all in your power to reflect the light, but do not speak words that will irritate or provoke” (EV, 173).

“You should have a clear apprehension of the gospel. The religious life is not one of gloom and of sadness but of peace and joy coupled with Christlike dignity and holy solemnity [Those fascinated with conspiracy theories often exemplify a doom and gloom version of Christianity and not the peace and joy that should be had]. We are not encouraged by our Saviour to cherish doubts and fears and distressing forebodings; these bring no relief to the soul and should be rebuked rather than praised [Conspiracy theories nourish doubts, fears, and distressing forebodings. Rather than praise these things by our focus on them we should rebuke them by ignoring them]. We may have joy unspeakable and full of glory. Let us put away our indolence and study God’s Word more constantly” (EV, 180).

“I have been shown that it is the device of the enemy to divert men’s minds to some obscure or unimportant point, something that is not fully revealed or is not essential to salvation [a classic description of conspiracy theories]. This is made the absorbing theme, the “present truth,” when all the investigations and suppositions only serve to make matters more obscure and to confuse the minds of some who ought to be seeking for oneness through sanctification of the truth” (EV, 182).

“A noble, devoted, spiritual worker will see in the great testing truths that constitute the solemn message to be given to the world, sufficient reason for keeping all minor differences concealed, rather than to bring them forth to become subjects of contention. Let the mind dwell upon the great work of redemption, the soon coming of Christ, and the commandments of God; and it will be found that there is enough food for thought in these subjects to take up the entire attention [If we spent more time getting to know Jesus we wouldn’t have time for speculations. Conspiracy theorists often have much knowledge of many things but they are lacking in the preciousness of Jesus. Rather than allure they repel those around them]” (EV, 183).

“Satan is pleased when we magnify his power [This is the nature of conspiracy theories]. Why not talk of Jesus? Why not magnify His power and His love” (MHH, 43)?

While these statements may not be directly dealing with the issue of conspiracy theories I don’t see how one can engage in entertaining such things without violating the principles they advocate. With this in mind, it is clear that Ellen White did not see conspiracy theorizing as a necessary element of preparing for last day deceptions.

However, Ellen White is not our example – Jesus Christ is. In Jesus we find our pattern, one that focused on showing mercy, love, and empathy to the suffering and whom wasted no time engaging in such fruitless things as conspiracy narratives. Ellen White wrote,

Millions upon millions of human beings, in sickness and ignorance and sin, have never so much as heard of Christ’s love for them. If our condition and theirs were to be reversed, what would we want them to do for us? All this, so far as lies in our power, we are to do for them. Christ’s rule of life by which every one of us must stand or fall in the judgment is, “‘Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them.’” Matthew 7:12[ii]

In conclusion I ask, what would you want a Christian to do for you if you were lost? Would you want him/her to share with you how the shirt you are wearing has masonic symbols, a DVD on how the Bush administration plotted 911, or how the music you like has satanic lyrics recorded backwards? Or would you like her to tell you of Jesus love for you? What would you want him to say? When your heart is bleeding, when your debt is overwhelming, when your marriage is ending, when your guilt is so strong its crushing you, sitting there in your living room with your world falling to pieces around you – what would you want to hear? I don’t know about you, but I would want to hear that there is a Savior who “regards with infinite tenderness the souls whom He has purchased with His own blood. They are the claim of His love. He looks upon them with unutterable longing.”[iii] I would want to know that there is one whose name is Jesus who can save the worst of the worst. When my heart is broken, speak to me of His love! When sin has me bound in iron chains, tell me of His power! When I am lost, nowhere left to go, talk to me of the “One who can calm the raging seas, give sight to the blind, pull the lame up to their feet”.[iv] Tell me “God loves you Marcos," "[w]ith a love so strong he'll never let you go... you [are] not alone”.[v]

Seventh-day Adventist, I appeal to you – speak of Jesus. Tell of His love. Tell of His grace. Tell of His power. Tell of His soon return! Talk of how He longs for us to be with Him. Talk of how He can save the worst of sinners. Let Him be your theme and song. Let Him be your every breath. If you and I would do this, if we would choose daily to lift Him up we would never go wrong. Never.

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[i] http://www.publiceye.org/tooclose/masons.html
[ii] White, Ellen G. The Ministry of Health and Healing, p 48.
[iii] ibid, p 20.
[iv] Wickham, Phil. Safe. http://www.elyricsworld.com/safe_lyrics_phil_wickham.html
[v] ibid.
10 Things I Am Glad Ellen White Did not Say
Courtesy of the Ellen G. White Esate, Inc.
This year I had the privilege of studying under professor Jud Lake, Adventist historian, Ellen White apologist, and author of Ellen White Under Fire. Part of the class was learning how to respond to criticisms leveled against Ellen White. Although I was already aware of this, I was able to see that nearly every single Ellen White criticism rests on a denial, and or violation, of the literary and historical context of her statements. As I read many of these criticisms I was reminded of the fact that the same arguments and insults can be made agains the Bible writers - and I am not refering to the Old Testament here but to the New. As a result I have created a small list of Bible verses I am glad did not originate with Ellen White, for if she had, the critics would have a hay day. Here is the list along with what the critics would say if Ellen White had been the first to say these things. Enjoy!





10 Things I Am Glad Ellen White Did Not Say


1) Women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety. - 1 Tim. 2:15 

What the critics would say: Here Mrs. White clearly shows she has no knowledge of the true gospel. According to Mrs. White a woman can be saved through having children. However, the Bible is clear that we are saved only through Jesus. This "salvation through child-bearing" heresy is just another example of how legalistic this woman was. I feel sorry for all of those Adventist women who havent had children for according to Mrs. White, they will not be saved.

2) For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. - Romans 2:13 

What the critics would say: If you ever had any doubt if Ellen White was a legalist, doubt no more! We are clearly told from her own writings that in order to be declared righteous we must obey the law! However, the Bible says that all of our righteouesness is as filthy rags and that in order to be declared righteous we must be covered by the blood of Jesus. Seventh-day Adventists do not know the freedom of the gospel because they follow the teachings of Ellen White who says in order to be saved they must keep the law. Mrs. White must have never heard of the book of Romans which clearly teaches that we cannot be saved by keeping the law. She contradicts the gospel and is thus a false prophet!

3) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ... - 2 Cor. 5:10 

What the Critics would say: This statement plays perfectly well into the anti-gospel Adventist teaching of the investigative judgment. Ellen White writes to believers that "we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ" This heresy robs the Christian of the assurance of salvation and is the reason why Adventists care so much about the law. They have no assurance! And how can they if they believe that they will be judged? The bible is clear that believers are not judged! How can Ellen White and the entire Adventist church contradict such a plain teaching of holy scripture? It is simple: They don't follow scripture, they follow the false prophet Ellen White.

4) If your hand causes you to sin cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched… - Mark 9:43-47 

What the critics would say: Here we see a perfect example of how fanatical Ellen White was. Adventists try to say she was balanced, but would a balanced person ever tell you to cut off your hand so you wont sin? This is clearly extremism and legalism at its worst! Not only that, but it is clear from this statement that Ellen White does not have an accurate understanding of temptation and victory over sin. We do not cut our hand off so we wont be tempted to steal because the problem is not the hand but the heart. The only solution then is to be born again and receive a new heart. Of course, Ellen White did not teach this because the Adventist church is her own cult and she used fear tactics like this one to keep Adventists under her thumb.

5) A person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. - James 2:24

What the critics would say: Blasphemy! Doesnt the bible plainly teach that we are saved by grace through faith? Has this false prophet ever read Ephesians 2:8-10 which plainly teaches that we are saved by grace through faith alone and not of our works so that no man can boast? The teachings of Ellen White are pure legalism. We must pray for those under her bondage!

6) If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left... - Hebrews 10:6 

What the critics would say: Adventism is a black hole of hopelessness that fills one with anxiety and fear and makes it impossible for believers to have assurance of salvation. Here Ellen White clearly says that if you are not perfect once you have been saved and you sin again then you are cast out for good and can never return to favor with God. But doesnt the Bible say that we can never be separated from the love of God? This is pure heresy.

7) Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed... continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling... - Philippians 2:12 

What the critics would say: Here is more evidence that Mrs. White was a legalist. Salvation, rather than the gift of Gods grace, is something we have to workout and figure out on our own. But not only that! It must also be done "in fear and trembling"! What a terrible way to live the Christian life!

8) And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll. - Rev. 22:19 

What the critics would say: According to Ellen White a believer can lose his/her salvation. This is a false teaching of Mrs. Whites used to gain control over her naiive followers. So long as she could keep them from having assurance of salvation she could control them into living the ultra-strict life she advocated.

9) Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 1 Corinthians 7:27 NASB 

What the critics would say: Notice the way Mrs. White describes marriage. Rather than a joy she speaks of being "bound" to a wife as though marriage was some sort of prison. She even goes so far as to suggest that single men should not seek a wife! What is this? Some Adventist version of celibacy? Does the SDA church have an order of male nuns? This negative view on marriage clearly reflects her own dysfunctional marriage to James White.

10) So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. Luke 14:33 

What the critics would say: Here we see evidence that Ellen White sympathized with the communist/ socialist movement and even advocated a communal type of living arrangement for Adventist believers. This idea of surrendering ones personal property is a clear identifying marker of cults. Beware!

Bonus: As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry. Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge. - Timothy 5:11-12 

What the critics would say: Ha! Can you believe this statement? According to the Adventist prophet, if a widow remarries she isforfeiting her dedication to Christ and bringing judgment on herself! Adventist wives had better pray their husbands never die on them or they will be forced into a lonely and celibate life lest they enter into judgment!


I suppose I could go on and on but by now I think you get the idea. All of you are reading my criticisms of these Bible texts and thinking "thats such an unfair criticism because it misrepresents what the Bible is actually saying!" That is true, and yet I have done it on purpose to demonstrate how the same exact method is used to attack Ellen White. It is not only unethical and unfair but speaks volumes to the lack of genuine scholarly work done by the critics of Ellen White.

For a great source on Ellen White apologetics visit ellenwhiteanswers.org
What the...? (Ellen White & The Golden Card)
photo credit: CollegeDegrees360 via photopin cc











All the angels that are commissioned to visit the earth hold a golden card, which they present to the angels at the gates of the city as they pass in and out. Heaven is a good place. {CET 97.2}

Then my attending angel directed me to the city again, where I saw four angels winging their way to the gate of the city. They were just presenting the golden card to the angel at the gate, when I saw another angel… {CET 101.2}
More than once I have heard people inquire, some with a sense of innocent nosy awe, and others with a sense of theological suspicion, about this so called golden card that Ellen White says the angels have. While I am not an Ellen White apologist I have, for some time, been really interested in looking into this myself and seeing what all the fuss is about.

The golden card can be found in 11 different places in Ellen Whites writings. However, those can be boiled down to just 2 since the others are simply times in which the original statements were republished in different books. Therefore, the first thing we must notice is that this golden card issue was not something that impressed Ellen White as much as it impresses some of us. During her lifetime, Ellen White wrote approximately 10,000 pages worth of material and the golden card shows up, in original format, only twice. She never wrote about it or expanded on it again. This is an important point to note because one critic has asked why God would “withhold this important piece of information from Christians” for so long. The answer is, it isn’t important.

However, it is still a topic that skeptics like to hone in on. Many are quick to point out that God is omniscient and all-knowing. Why would the angels need to present a golden card to get through the gates of heaven if God knows who his angels are and who they aren’t? In order to answer I would like to present some biblical scenarios that raise the same questions.


Scene 1: Sodom and Gomorrah

Sodom and Gomorrah were notorious for their wickedness. If these two cities were around today they would make Las Vegas look like Mayberry from the Andy Griffith Show. The cities became so bad that God had to destroy them. However, before He judged the cities He investigated first. The Bible says in Genesis 18: 20-21, "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know."

Here we read that God has heard the cries of people who are fed up with the evil in Sodom and Gomorrah. Now instead of saying, "I know that already and now I'm going to judge them" God essentially says I'm going to go down there and check it out for myself to see if its as bad as they say it is. He then sends two angels into the city and after the men of Sodom tried to rape them He judged the cities and destroyed them.

In the spirit of the "golden card critics" I then ask, Why did God need to send angels to check out Sodom? Didn't He already know everything?


Scene 2: The Passover

God told Israel that He was about to judge Egypt. The Israelite’s were to put blood on the door posts and that when He passed by a home He would look to see if the blood was there. If it was He would pass over and if it wasn't He would judge that household. 

Doesn't God know men's hearts? Didn't He already know who was His and who wasn't? Then why the blood? And further, once the blood was there why did He have to look to see if it was? Didn't He already know who put the blood on the door frame and who didn't?


Scene 3: The Fall of Jerusalem

The Fall of Jerusalem also serves as an example of this. Even though Israel had become so wicked that it was impossible to hide it God investigated before He judged them through the Babylonians. God said in Zephaniah 1:12, "At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps and punish those who are complacent..." 

Search Jerusalem with lamps? Why? Isn't it obvious that they are evil? Don't you know all things Lord? Then why "investigate" to see who is wicked and who isn't? Why does God need to investigate? Doesn't He already know everything?


Scene 4: The Mark/Seal

In Ezekiel chapter 9 God executes judgment on idolaters in Jerusalem. Before he does the story says, “Then the Lord called to the man clothed in linen who had the writing kit at his side and said to him, “Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it.” As I listened, he said to the others, “Follow him through the city and kill, without showing pity or compassion. Slaughter the old men, the young men and women, the mothers and children, but do not touch anyone who has the mark. Begin at my sanctuary” (Ezekiel 9: 3-6).

Why would God put a mark on the foreheads of his faithful? Doesn’t he know who they are? In addition, this scenario repeats itself in Revelation 7 where judgment cannot be executed until the faithful receive a mark on their forehead. What’s the use of a mark if God already knows who his faithful are? He is after all, all-knowing isn’t he?

I suppose I could go on and on but I think it’s good to stop there. Each of us can give a good answer as to why God acted the way he did in each of these scenarios even though the Bible clearly teaches that he is omniscient. And likewise, a very good answer can be given as to why angels use a golden card to enter heaven even though God already knows who his true angels are. However, before I give my final answer let’s look at the two quotations in their entirety. 
Then my attending angel directed me to the city again, where I saw four angels winging their way to the gate of the city. They were just presenting the golden card to the angel at the gate, when I saw another angel flying swiftly from the direction of the most excellent glory, and crying with a loud voice to the other angels, and waving something up and down in his hand. I asked my attending angel for an explanation of what I saw. He told me that I could see no more then, but he would shortly show me what those things that I then saw meant. {CET 101.2}
There is perfect order and harmony in the holy city. All the angels that are commissioned to visit the earth hold a golden card, which they present to the angels at the gates of the city as they pass in and out. Heaven is a good place. I long to be there, and behold my lovely Jesus, who gave His life for me, and be changed into His glorious image. Oh, for language to express the glory of the bright world to come! I thirst for the living streams that make glad the city of our God. {CET 97.2}
Notice something very important in the first quotation: Ellen White makes it very clear that the angels present the golden card “to the angel at the gate” not to God. Even though God is all knowing the angels are not. The beauty of this is that it shows us that in all his power and omniscience God is not a dictator or a control freak. He entrusts his created angels with the administration of heaven. In my estimation, this paints a beautiful picture of Gods character.

Nevertheless, one critic has asked, Is it possible for “evil angels to deceive good angels to get into heaven?” At this point it is important to note that Ellen White does not actually tell us what the golden card is for. Most people automatically assume it is an access card to enter heaven. However, according to the second quotation, the angels present the card “as they pass in and out.” In addition, in the first quote Ellen White says, "...I saw four angels winging their way to the gate of the city. They were just presenting the golden card to the angel at the gate, when I saw another angel flying swiftly from the direction of the most excellent glory". Notice that in this statement Ellen White sees four angels at the gate, but only one card. The group of angels, rather than producing multiple cards only produces one. If the golden card were an access card or an ID then all of the angels would have had to present their individual ID's. Instead, only one card is shown in behalf of the four angels. Whatever the function of the card is then, it cannot be said with certainty that it is and ID that is meant to prove you are a good angel. Perhaps the card is used to keep a perfect record of angelic activities kind of like a log book. The Bible itself speaks of a book of remembrance that is used to keep a record of individual human works and experiences (Malachi 3:16; Psalm 56:8; Revelation 20:12). However, I am not suggesting what the card is really meant to do for, as I already stated, we are not told what its function is and apparently neither was Ellen White.

The main point of this whole golden card thing is really quite simple. Ellen White tells us what it is when she says, “There is perfect order and harmony in the holy city.” Whatever the golden card is, and whatever function it has, the main point is that heaven is a place of order. That is all. Any further speculation misses that simple point. So what is the golden card? It’s a golden card, that’s what it is. What is its function? We have no idea. But whatever it is this we do know, heaven is a place of order. 

Ellen White then goes on to say, “Heaven is a good place.” I don’t know about you, but the simplicity of that sentence hits me hard. Here we have an articulate woman who also has editors and friends who are skilled in writing and can help her, if need be, to express the goodness of heaven in eloquent words and yet the awe of its beauty was so grand that all she could muster was a childlike phrase, “Heaven is a good place.” Unfortunately, in their attempt to discredit and challenge what seems to be odd about this statement the critics miss that which is clearly breath taking.

The final point I would like to make is this. The golden card is such a minute issue that Ellen White herself did not seem to care much for it. This is not only true with regard to her writings at large, but it is also true with the immediate context of the statement. While she mentions the golden card, Ellen White appears to quickly lose interest in it and instead focuses her attention on something, which in her estimation, was much more impressive. Ellen White says, “Heaven is a good place. I long to be there, and behold my lovely Jesus, who gave His life for me, and be changed into His glorious image. Oh, for language to express the glory of the bright world to come! I thirst for the living streams that make glad the city of our God.”

As I said, Ellen White didn’t seem to care much for the golden card. Her heart was captured by something far more riveting. Was it heaven? Not really. Read again and you will see that it was her “lovely Jesus” that she was captivated by. That “lovely Jesus” who “gave His life for [her]”. She longed to see him face to face so that she could be “changed into His glorious image.” Then with a cry of passionate desire she declares, “Oh, for language to express the glory of the bright world to come!” She was at a loss for words. No human verbiage could describe the world she had just seen. And with solemn yet romantic words she concludes, “I thirst for the living streams that make glad the city of our God.”

With such beautiful themes to focus on no wonder she cared little for the golden card.




__________
Note: Some of the scenes and their comments were originally posted in the blog Why Does God Need to "Investigate?" You can read it by clicking here.
John Wesley on Christian Perfection


I recently read John Wesley: A Plain Account of Christian Perfection. As a Seventh-day Adventist the doctrine of Christian perfection (not to be confused with the heresy of sinless perfectionism) is one that is near and dear to my heart. Ellen White spoke much on Christian perfection and, knowing that she was a Methodist, it was pretty cool to read about the doctrine of perfection from the man she learned it from - John Wesley. Not only did this experience help me appreciate the doctrine more but it also helped me gain a greater understanding and appreciation for Ellen Whites approach to perfection. Below are some of my favorite quotes from Wesley's book. I am sharing most them as answers to 3 basic questions: Did Wesley believe in perfection, how did he define it, and were did he stand regarding the concept of absolute, or sinless, perfectionism.




Did John Wesley believe in Christian perfection?
"Yes, we do believe that He will in this world so 'cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of His Holy Spirit, the we shall perfectly love Him, and worthily magnify His holy name."
"Why should devout men be afraid of devoting all their soul, body, and substance to God? Why should those who love Christ count it a damnable error to think we may have all the mind that was in Him? We allow, we contend, that we are justified freely though the righteousness and the blood of Christ. And why are you so hot against us, because we expect likewise to be sanctified wholly through His spirit?"
"[T]his we do confess... we do expect to love God with all our heart, and our neighbour as ourselves."
How did Wesley define perfection? 
"[R]ejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks... this is all that I mean by perfection..."
"By perfection I mean the humble, gentle, patient love of God and our neighbour, ruling our tempers, words, and actions."
[Perfection] is purity of intention, dedicating all the life to God. It is the giving to God all our hearts: it is one desire and design ruling all our tempers. It is the devoting, not a part, but all our soil, body, and substance to God... it is all the mind which was in Christ, enabling us to walk as Christ walked. It is the circumcision of the heart from all filthiness, all inward as well as outward pollution it is a renewal of the heart in the whole image of God, the full likeness of him that created it... it is the loving God with all our heart, and our neighbour as ourselves."
Did Wesley believe in absolute perfection? 
"Absolute perfection belongs not to man, nor to angels, but to God alone."
"Sinless perfection is a phrase I never use."
"Is [perfection] sinless? It is not worth while to contend for a term. It is 'salvation from sin.'"
"[Perfection] is perfect love. This is the essence of it..."
"I do not contend for the term sinless, though I do not object against it." 
My thoughts:

While Ellen White was a firm believer in the doctrine of Christian perfection, she parts ways with Wesley in two senses. The first is that Wesley maintained that we could know in this life if we had attained perfection. Ellen White never suggests that we can reach a point in our lives where we can know we are perfect. In fact she consistently taught otherwise as can be seen in the following statement:
So long as Satan reigns, we shall have self to subdue, besetting sins to overcome; so long as life shall last, there will be no stopping place, no point which we can reach and say, I have fully attained. Sanctification is the result of lifelong obedience {AA 560.3}.
The second point of departure is in clarity. Wesley seems to almost beat around the bush when it comes to the concept of sinless perfection. He never explicitly taught it, but as can be seen above, he never explicitly denied it. This is made most evident in his final quote "I do not contend for the term sinless, though I do not object against it." Ellen White did not beat around the bush when it came to sinless perfection. She denied it consistently throughout her ministry as in the following quote:
We cannot say, “I am sinless,” till this vile body is changed and fashioned like unto His glorious body [the second coming]. {ST March 23, 1888, par. 13}.

Some other cool Wesley quotes:
"As a very little dust will disorder a clock, and the least sand will obscure our sight, so the least grain of sin which is upon the heart will hinder its right motion towards God." 
"[T]he devil fills whatever God does not fill."
"Indeed it has been my opinion for many years, that one great cause why men make so little improvement in the divine life is their own coldness, negligence, and unbelief."
"In the greatest temptations, a single look to Christ and the barely pronouncing His name, suffices to overcome the wicked one..." 

Note: I read this book in a Kindle so there were no page numbers. If there is a specific quote you would like to trace feel free to message me and ask for the location number if you'd like. 


Further Reading:

Never Good Enough: The Close of Probation and Sinless Perfectionism
Facing Life's Record (An Analysis of the Great Controversy's Scariest Chapter)
photo credit: katiew via photopin cc
Have you ever read the chapter "Facing Life's Record" in The Great Controversy and walked away feeling anxious and hopeless? Has anyone ever quoted that chapter to you in a way that promotes legalism and perfectionism? If you have ever experienced this then you are not alone. Because of this common occurrence I decided to do a paragraph by paragraph analysis of this most dreadful chapter to see whether or not it really is as scary as some people make it out to be. What I discovered was both simple and amazing. Rather than promoting legalism this chapter makes it impossible to do so. But don't take my word for it. Read along and you will see for yourself.

Now before I begin allow me to make a disclaimer of sorts. This post is intended for Seventh-day Adventists who already understand and believe the doctrine of the investigative judgment, therefore, this post is not apologetic in nature. There are many questions that are often raised when studying the investigative judgment that I will not answer here. My only burden in this post is to discover whether or not the chapter "Facing Life's Record", found in Ellen Whites signature book The Great Controversy, is antithetical to the gospel. However, at the end of this post I will attach some links which contain resources that will help answer those other questions. And of course, if there are any more questions feel free to contact me.


Facing Life's Record

“I beheld,” says the prophet Daniel, “till thrones were placed, and One that was Ancient of Days did sit: His raiment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like pure wool; His throne was fiery flames, and the wheels thereof burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him: thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” Daniel 7:9, 10, R.V.


There is not much to be said about this paragraph. It is simply setting the apocalyptic stage for the judgment as SDA's understand it.

Thus was presented to the prophet’s vision the great and solemn day when the characters and the lives of men should pass in review before the Judge of all the earth, and to every man should be rendered “according to his works.” The Ancient of Days is God the Father. Says the psalmist: “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God.” Psalm 90:2. It is He, the source of all being, and the fountain of all law, that is to preside in the judgment. And holy angels as ministers and witnesses, in number “ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands,” attend this great tribunal.


Again, not much to be said. The judgment is described as a "great and solemn (serious) day," which I don't think anyone would debate, and the judge is God himself. Not much to comment on there.


“And, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away.” Daniel 7:13, 14. The coming of Christ here described is not His second coming to the earth. He comes to the Ancient of Days in heaven to receive dominion and glory and a kingdom, which will be given Him at the close of His work as a mediator. It is this coming, and not His second advent to the earth, that was foretold in prophecy to take place at the termination of the 2300 days in 1844. Attended by heavenly angels, our great High Priest enters the holy of holies and there appears in the presence of God to engage in the last acts of His ministration in behalf of man—to perform the work of investigative judgment and to make an atonement for all who are shown to be entitled to its benefits.


Yet another descriptive paragraph. God the son enters the picture as mans "mediator" and "great High Priest" who minsters "in behalf of man" and make an "atonement" for us. Each of those titles (mediator etc.) reveals the work of Jesus on behalf of mankind. Nothing scary here. The only phrase that is suspect is that he will "make an atonement for all who are shown to be entitled to its benefits." The question then is, What does it mean to be "entitled"? Are we "entitled" to the benefits of the atonement Christ made at the cross by our works? Or are we "entitled" to those benefits by faith in his finished atonement on Calvary? Hold on to that question. It will soon be answered.


In the typical service only those who had come before God with confession and repentance, and whose sins, through the blood of the sin offering, were transferred to the sanctuary, had a part in the service of the Day of Atonement. So in the great day of final atonement and investigative judgment the only cases considered are those of the professed people of God. The judgment of the wicked is a distinct and separate work, and takes place at a later period. “Judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel?” 1 Peter 4:17.


So, according to this paragraph, the investigative judgment only considers the cases of those who have professed faith in Jesus. Now the picture is starting to get a bit scarier isn't it? At this point many begin to stumble. Why are Christians judged? Does this not remove the assurance of our salvation?


First of all, we need to remember that "the Lord knows those who are his" (2 Tim. 2:19). Therefore, the judgment is not for his information at all. Throughout the Bible we see examples of God "investigating" even though it is clear that he knows all things. For example, when Adam and Eve sinned God entered the garden and asked, "where are you" (Gen. 3:9)? Why did God ask that question? Didn't he already know? Also, in the final judgment of the wicked the Bible says that "Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire" (Rev. 20:15). Why does God need to look into a book in order to determine who goes into the lake of fire and who doesn't? Doesn't he already know who the saved are? Then why the "investigation"? The only logical conclusion is that these "investigations" are not for God's benefit but for the benefit of his creation. Therefore, as will soon become clear, the investigative judgment is not for Gods benefit or enlightenment. It is for the benefit of his creation. Lets move on and it will soon come together.


The books of record in heaven, in which the names and the deeds of men are registered, are to determine the decisions of the judgment. Says the prophet Daniel: “The judgment was set, and the books were opened.” The revelator, describing the same scene, adds: “Another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” Revelation 20:12.


So the names of those who have placed their faith in Jesus are written in the book of life. That means my name is there! However, something interesting is happening here. Both Ellen White and the Bible say we are judged "according to our works". Ellen says that the "the deeds of men... are to determine the decisions of the judgment" and John says, "the dead were judged... according to their works". So does this mean that we pass the judgment by our works? 


It is important to point out that Ellen White mentions two distinct judgments in this paragraph. The judgment Daniel describes is the investigative judgement which takes place before the second coming of Christ and only considers the cases of those who have confessed Christ as Lord and savior. The judgment John describes is the one that will take place after the millennium. It is known as the Great White Throne judgment and it only considers the cases of the lost. In the investigative judgment the righteous are the ones that are judged and they are judged according to their works. In the judgment of the wicked (Great White Throne judgment of Revelation 20) it is only the wicked that are judged and they too are judged according to their works. The difference however, as we will soon see, is that the works of the righteous are covered by the blood of Jesus whereas the works of the wicked are not. In addition, the works of the wicked testify that sin is their god for their works are sinful. However, the works of the righteous testify that they are children of God for their works are the fruit of the spirit (Mat. 7:16; Gal. 5:22-23). However, the question remains - do we pass the judgment by our works? Let's keep reading.


The book of life contains the names of all who have ever entered the service of God. Jesus bade His disciples: “Rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:20. Paul speaks of his faithful fellow workers, “whose names are in the book of life.” Philippians 4:3. Daniel, looking down to “a time of trouble, such as never was,” declares that God’s people shall be delivered, “everyone that shall be found written in the book.” And the revelator says that those only shall enter the city of God whose names “are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Daniel 12:1; Revelation 21:27.

Amen! Good news! Lets keep going.


“A book of remembrance” is written before God, in which are recorded the good deeds of “them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name.” Malachi 3:16. Their words of faith, their acts of love, are registered in heaven. Nehemiah refers to this when he says: “Remember me, O my God, ... and wipe not out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God.” Nehemiah 13:14. In the book of God’s remembrance every deed of righteousness is immortalized. There every temptation resisted, every evil overcome, every word of tender pity expressed, is faithfully chronicled. And every act of sacrifice, every suffering and sorrow endured for Christ’s sake, is recorded. Says the psalmist: “Thou tellest my wanderings: put Thou my tears into Thy bottle: are they not in Thy book?” Psalm 56:8.


Again, good news! Notice: This paragraph says nothing about our good works earning us salvation, but what it does say is that God notices our faithfulness. Isn't that awesome?


There is a record also of the sins of men. “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” “Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” Says the Saviour: “By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” Ecclesiastes 12:14; Matthew 12:36, 37. The secret purposes and motives appear in the unerring register; for God “will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts.” 1 Corinthians 4:5. “Behold, it is written before Me, ... your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together, saith the Lord.” Isaiah 65:6, 7.


Anyone shaking in their boots? Ellen White is not saying anything new here. All of our sins are noticed by God, not only our good works. But the question is, what does this mean for the believer? This question will soon be answered.


Every man’s work passes in review before God and is registered for faithfulness or unfaithfulness. Opposite each name in the books of heaven is entered with terrible exactness every wrong word, every selfish act, every unfulfilled duty, and every secret sin, with every artful dissembling. Heaven-sent warnings or reproofs neglected, wasted moments, unimproved opportunities, the influence exerted for good or for evil, with its far-reaching results, all are chronicled by the recording angel.


Again, this is a clear biblical teaching in both the Old and New Testaments.


The law of God is the standard by which the characters and the lives of men will be tested in the judgment. Says the wise man: “Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment.” Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14. The apostle James admonishes his brethren: “So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.” James 2:12.


This paragraph is just painting a clearer picture. Lets keep going.


Those who in the judgment are “accounted worthy” will have a part in the resurrection of the just. Jesus said: “They which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, ... are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.” Luke 20:35, 36. And again He declares that “they that have done good” shall come forth “unto the resurrection of life.” John 5:29. The righteous dead will not be raised until after the judgment at which they are accounted worthy of “the resurrection of life.” Hence they will not be present in person at the tribunal when their records are examined and their cases decided.


Taken alone this paragraph (and John 5:29 as well), seem to teach salvation by works. But is this what they are teaching? And what does Ellen White mean by those who are "accounted worthy"? How are we "accounted worthy?" Is it by our good works? Or is it by something else? And while we are asking these questions, what did Jesus mean when he said that “they that have done good” will receive eternal life? Is he too teaching salvation by works? This paragraph does not answer these questions, but the answer is coming up. 


Jesus will appear as their advocate, to plead in their behalf before God. “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John 2:1. “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” “Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 9:24; 7:25.


Aha! So far Ellen White has only presented the problem. We are sinners and all of our sins are recorded with "terrible exactness". Now she presents the solution. And what is that solution? Jesus is our "advocate (lawyer)," who appears "in the presence of God for us (mediator) and is able to "save (savior) to the uttermost them that have good works!" Is that what it says? No! It says he is able to "save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him (faith in the substitutionary sacrifice)" because he lives with one purpose and that is to make "intercession for [us] (High Priest, redeemer)". Therefore, while our sins are many we need not fear if we are covered by the righteousness of Christ.


As the books of record are opened in the judgment, the lives of all who have believed on Jesus come in review before God. Beginning with those who first lived upon the earth, our Advocate presents the cases of each successive generation, and closes with the living. Every name is mentioned, every case closely investigated. Names are accepted, names rejected. When any have sins remaining upon the books of record, unrepented of and unforgiven, their names will be blotted out of the book of life, and the record of their good deeds will be erased from the book of God’s remembrance. The Lord declared to Moses: “Whosoever hath sinned against Me, him will I blot out of My book.” Exodus 32:33. And says the prophet Ezekiel: “When the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, ... all his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned.” Ezekiel 18:24.


It is at this most critical paragraph that many Adventists freak out. Salvation, they think, is based on repenting of every little sin (so they become paranoid about repentance and are constantly trying to remember some sin they have not repented of so that they can secure their salvation by their repentance). Salvation also seems to be based on absolute perfection. Therefore, in order to secure my salvation I had better overcome every sin. The result is a naval-gazing experience where they are constantly looking to self in order to secure salvation instead of to Christ. Others assume an equally dangerous error, that they must look, not to self, but to Jesus in order to obtain the victory which will then make them "worthy" of eternal life. The error is that "worthiness" is still determined by human performance and not by the righteousness of Christ. In other words, the believer sees Jesus as the way by which he "might" obtain eternal life and not the way by which he "will". This view does not present Jesus as the promise of salvation but as the possibility of salvation. The person constantly worries if they are abiding in Christ, if they are allowing his grace to work through them, if they are surrendering enough, and if they are obeying the will of God well enough to "retain" their justification. This is a Christ + Me centered religion that turns the "obedience out of love" concept into a legalistic experience where the believer is constantly worrying whether or not they are "obeying out of love" enough or not. In addition, many continue to struggle with sin and eventually give up thinking that Jesus has failed them, that they cannot be saved, and that they might as well quit trying. But the problem was never with Ellen White or with Jesus. The problem was with surface reading, listening to legalistic teachers who themselves misunderstand these issues, and never having grasped the true gospel. So lets analyze this paragraph.


In order to properly understand this paragraph it is important to remember that Adventists, like Pentecostals, Lutherans, and Methodists, do not believe in "once saved, always saved." That is all this paragraph is about. It has nothing to do with "absolute perfection" or being worthy of heaven by my good works. It simply has to do with the fact that many who profess Christ do in fact turn their backs on him. During the judgment those who turned their backs on Jesus are given what they want - an eternity without him - while those who loved Jesus to the end are given what they want (though they don't deserve it) - an eternity with Jesus. Ellen White says that it is "our Advocate" who "presents the cases of each successive generation." What do you think that means? If an advocate, someone who speaks on your behalf, presents your case - Is he looking for any excuse to remove your name from the book of life? Or is he defending you and doing everything he can to keep your name there? Please don't ignore that powerful word "Advocate". That single noun forms the interpretive framework for this entire paragraph. Each name is "closely investigated" by the "Advocate" or the "one who pleads another's cause before a judge, a pleader, counsel for defense, legal assistant..." So again I ask, What does this scenario look like? Is it one of God looking for every excuse to keep you out of heaven? Not at all. 


Then what does Ellen White mean when she says, "When any have sins remaining upon the books of record, unrepented of and unforgiven, their names will be blotted out of the book of life"? Again, Adventists do not believe in "once saved always saved." This statement does not mean that you have to confess and repent of every tiny little sin you have ever committed "or else", nor does it mean that you have to be absolutely perfect. It simply means that anyone who professed Christ, was covered by his blood, and then rebelled against him again without ever repenting of that rebellion will be removed from the book of life. This is exactly what Paul means in the book of Hebrews when he said, 

"If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God (Heb. 10:26).  
Again, this paragraph is not in opposition to salvation by grace through faith. it is simply rejecting the heresy of "once saved always saved." In this investigation God is not looking for any excuses to keep us out of heaven, He is looking for one thing only. What is that? We will see it in the next paragraph. 

All who have truly repented of sin, and by faith claimed the blood of Christ as their atoning sacrifice, have had pardon entered against their names in the books of heaven; as they have become partakers of the righteousness of Christ, and their characters are found to be in harmony with the law of God, their sins will be blotted out, and they themselves will be accounted worthy of eternal life. The Lord declares, by the prophet Isaiah: “I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for Mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” Isaiah 43:25. Said Jesus: “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels.” “Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven.” Revelation 3:5; Matthew 10:32, 33.


So what is God searching for? What is the Advocate doing as he "presents the cases of each successive generation"? The first sentence makes it very clear. He is looking for the blood. If you have truly repented of sin, and by faith claimed the blood of Christ, you have pardon entered against your name. That's it. No hypersensitive repentance of every little sin, no ultra-perfectionistic goal to be reached. The test is simple. Are you covered by the blood, or are you one of those who accepts Christ only to reject him when life gets rough or temptation attractive? The verdict of the judgment is determined, not by your performance or obedience, but by your faith in the blood of Jesus. Here is an illustration:

Suppose you are drowning in the ocean. A helicopter comes by and drops a rescue line to you. All you have to do is take hold of the rescue line. You take hold of it and you are elevated to safety in the helicopter. Your salvation from the watery grave is now secure. But what if you decided, for some awkward reason, that you liked things better in the ocean? What if you then leapt out of the chopper back into the ocean and then refused to get back on when the chopper returned to you? Can you logically say that you are still secure in your salvation from the watery grave? Obviously not.
That is all Ellen White is saying in this paragraph. While we are safe in the arms of Jesus we are ever free to turn our backs on him (this is what the book of Hebrews is all about). If we do, he will give us what we ask for. He will leave us, not without much pleading, to the fate we chose. "He that overcomes" then is not "he who reaches a state of sinless perfection" but he who clings to the righteousness of Christ by faith (both of which are gifts of God) for dear life and never lets go.

The deepest interest manifested among men in the decisions of earthly tribunals but faintly represents the interest evinced in the heavenly courts when the names entered in the book of life come up in review before the Judge of all the earth. The divine Intercessor presents the plea that all who have overcome through faith in His blood be forgiven their transgressions, that they be restored to their Eden home, and crowned as joint heirs with Himself to “the first dominion.” Micah 4:8. Satan in his efforts to deceive and tempt our race had thought to frustrate the divine plan in man’s creation; but Christ now asks that this plan be carried into effect as if man had never fallen. He asks for His people not only pardon and justification, full and complete, but a share in His glory and a seat upon His throne.


Wow! This is the most beautiful paragraph yet. It is absolutely amazing. It begins by saying that "earthly tribunals but faintly represents the interest evinced in the heavenly courts when the names entered in the book of life come up in review." Why? Is it because God is looking for every excuse possible to reject us? Never! Such a belief is a soul crushing heresy! The intense interest is because the judgment is an opportunity to defend us against the sophisticated accusations of Satan. When the cases "come up in review" Ellen says that "[t]he divine Intercessor presents the plea..." In other words, we have absolutely nothing to fear. The record of sins so perfectly maintained does not testify against us in the judgment because the blood of Jesus covers each and every sin written there. The purpose of the investigative judgment is thus to demonstrate who "have overcome through faith in His blood" that they may be forgiven, restored to their Eden home, and crowned as joint heirs with Jesus. I don't know about you, but this judgment sounds exciting!


This is also a good point to revisit the question, If God knows everything why does he need to investigate? Remember I concluded earlier that God never investigates for his own benefit but for the benefit of his creatures. While God knows who his true children are, the angels in heaven do not. Satan presents powerful accusations against each of us before God and the angels. Now remember, every human being has a guardian angel. Since those angels have also seen our sins they cannot argue with Satan. His charges against us, as far as they are concerned, are correct. Therefore, God opens up the books of our life's record and the investigative judgment begins - not for Gods benefit, but for the angels benefit. Of course, God could say, "Just trust me guys. Don't ask any questions. I am God and I know what I am doing." But the amazing thing is that the judgment reveals to us just how transparent God is. He has nothing to hide. This scenario is repeated in Revelation 20 during the Great White Throne judgment of the wicked. Only here, it is the redeemed who investigate what is written in the books. Not only is God transparent with his loyal angels, but he is transparent with us! He shows us why certain people we expected to see in heaven are not there and he answers all of our questions. Many people say they have tons of questions to ask God. Do you think that will go away once we get to heaven? No. God will answer everything and the investigative judgment is the beginning of that process. What a beautiful God we serve!


While Jesus is pleading for the subjects of His grace, Satan accuses them before God as transgressors. The great deceiver has sought to lead them into skepticism, to cause them to lose confidence in God, to separate themselves from His love, and to break His law. Now he points to the record of their lives, to the defects of character, the unlikeness to Christ, which has dishonored their Redeemer, to all the sins that he has tempted them to commit, and because of these he claims them as his subjects.


According to this paragraph, Who is it that "points to the record of [our] lives ...the defects of [our] character... [our]unlikeness to Christ, which has dishonored [our] Redeemer [and] to all the sins that [we have been] tempted... to commit..."? Is it Jesus our Advocate who is doing this? Not at all! It is Satan. How ironic is it that so many Adventist teachers portray the judgment in a way that makes it appear as though it is God who is pointing out these things. However, while Ellen White says he reviews the record of our lives that review is always done in the context of an Advocate (defender) and it is Satan (accuser) who points out, accuses, and claims us as "unworthy" not God! How sad is it that many well meaning Adventists have unwittingly switched the role of Jesus with the role of Satan by making God out to be against us in the judgment. How much damage has been caused by this heresy! But notice, it did not come from Ellen White but from those who have misinterpreted her writings.


Jesus does not excuse their sins, but shows their penitence and faith, and, claiming for them forgiveness, He lifts His wounded hands before the Father and the holy angels, saying: I know them by name. I have graven them on the palms of My hands. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.” Psalm 51:17. And to the accuser of His people He declares: “The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?” Zechariah 3:2. Christ will clothe His faithful ones with His own righteousness, that He may present them to His Father “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.” Ephesians 5:27. Their names stand enrolled in the book of life, and concerning them it is written: “They shall walk with Me in white: for they are worthy.” Revelation 3:4.


If anyone still thinks that "Facing Life's Record" is scary after reading this paragraph then I don't know what to say to you. Here Ellen White makes it very clear that Christians are not judged, but Christ is judged in their place. Therefore, while we each come up for judgment those who are covered in the blood need not fear because Jesus 1) claims for us forgiveness, 2) rebukes our accuser Satan, 3) clothes his faithful with His own righteousness 4) presents them to the Father without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing (perfect), and 5) He dresses them in white (his righteousness). It is after all of this is said that Ellen White closes the paragraph with Revelation 3:4 "for they are worthy." How are they worthy? Is it because they kept the 10 commandments so well? Is it because they were absolutely sinlessly perfect? Is it because they repented of every little sin they ever committed? Is it because they were perfectly obedient? Not at all. Their "worthiness" relates only to the fact that they are covered with the perfect life of Jesus. Therefore, Christians have nothing to fear in the judgment because while they face the record of their own sinful life, it is covered by the record of Jesus perfect life, and are thus accounted worthy of salvation. Thus, the only ones who have anything to fear in the judgment are the apostates who have turned away from Christ and the hypocrites who claim Jesus with their lips yet do not truly embrace him as their Lord and Savior. However, those who sincerely believe in Jesus, though far from perfect, have the assurance that they are covered by his blood. Praise the Lord!


Thus will be realized the complete fulfillment of the new-covenant promise: “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” “In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found.” Jeremiah 31:34; 50:20. “In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even everyone that is written among the living in Jerusalem.” Isaiah 4:2, 3.


Ellen White has a way of emphasizing that follows the pattern of repeat and expand. Thus, so far we have seen 1) an introduction to the judgment (7 paragraphs), 2) a picture of the problem we face in judgment as sinners (4 paragraphs), and 3) the solution to the problem (6 paragraphs so far). This last paragraph is another example of repeat and expand. Ellen White is repeating and expanding on the truth that in Christ, and in Christ alone, all of our sins are blotted out. Therefore, while it is possible to make this a "scary" chapter by surface reading or by focusing more on section 2 "a picture of the problem" than on the chapter as a whole. In the end, it is not possible to view this chapter as scary when read in its gospel context.


The work of the investigative judgment and the blotting out of sins is to be accomplished before the second advent of the Lord. Since the dead are to be judged out of the things written in the books, it is impossible that the sins of men should be blotted out until after the judgment at which their cases are to be investigated. But the apostle Peter distinctly states that the sins of believers will be blotted out “when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ.” Acts 3:19, 20. When the investigative judgment closes, Christ will come, and His reward will be with Him to give to every man as his work shall be.


Does this mean that we are not forgiven? Of course not! The moment we come to Christ by faith we are forgiven of our sins and have no more need to ever worry about them rising up against us ever again. Remember Ellen White stated that, "All who have truly repented of sin, and by faith claimed the blood of Christ as their atoning sacrifice, have had pardon entered against their names in the books of heaven..." Therefore, we are forgiven. The issue here is not forgiveness but blotting out. Why do our sins remain in the record-books of heaven if they have already been forgiven? The next paragraph answers the question.


In the typical service the high priest, having made the atonement for Israel, came forth and blessed the congregation. So Christ, at the close of His work as mediator, will appear, “without sin unto salvation” (Hebrews 9:28), to bless His waiting people with eternal life. As the priest, in removing the sins from the sanctuary, confessed them upon the head of the scapegoat, so Christ will place all these sins upon Satan, the originator and instigator of sin. The scapegoat, bearing the sins of Israel, was sent away “unto a land not inhabited” (Leviticus 16:22); so Satan, bearing the guilt of all the sins which he has caused God’s people to commit, will be for a thousand years confined to the earth, which will then be desolate, without inhabitant, and he will at last suffer the full penalty of sin in the fires that shall destroy all the wicked. Thus the great plan of redemption will reach its accomplishment in the final eradication of sin and the deliverance of all who have been willing to renounce evil.


Why do our sins remain in the record books of heaven if we have already been forgiven? This paragraph answers the question. Now, before I analyze this paragraph allow me to give you an illustration that will simplify this topic.

Amy is failing one of her classes in university. She asks the professor for help and he refuses unless she sleeps with him. Desperate to pass the class, Amy concedes to the demand and passes the class. However, the secret is soon exposed and Amy faces expulsion from the school for her actions. She explains her situation and the faculty has mercy on her so they decide to forgive her and re-institute her into the school. To show just how forgiving they are they take every single document containing any information on Amy's escapade and burn it. Amy is happy. However, there is a problem. In the process of destroying all of the information about Amy's sin they have unwittingly destroyed all of the evidence needed to prosecute the teacher who took advantage of her. 
Now suppose instead of destroying the evidence they put it to the side until a future "day of judgment" in which case they would bring out the charges against Amy as evidence against the professor? Amy wouldn't have to worry about the information being there. She is already forgiven. But now the professor has to face the fact that it was he that took advantage of her and led her into sin. He know bears the ultimate responsibility for his actions and is fired from the university.
This is the only reason why our sins are not blotted out when we are forgiven. They are not kept to bear witness against us because we are already forgiven and covered by the blood of Jesus. But they are there to bear witness against Satan who is ultimately responsible for all of sin. This in no way means that Satan is a sin bearer or a sacrifice for our sins. No way! Christ alone is our sacrifice. What this means is that God will bring closure to the sin problem by holding Satan ultimately responsible for the sin and misery he has caused on this earth. Our sins are not blotted out until that final day, not to testify against us, but to be placed on Satan as the one ultimately responsible for the rebellion. 

At the time appointed for the judgment—the close of the 2300 days, in 1844—began the work of investigation and blotting out of sins. All who have ever taken upon themselves the name of Christ must pass its searching scrutiny. Both the living and the dead are to be judged “out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”


Ellen White now repeats the introduction to the work of judgment that has been taking place since 1844. There is nothing in this paragraph she has not already stated before. This paragraph and the next are in direct opposition to the heresy of "once saved always saved." This is why Ellen White says that "[a]ll who have ever taken upon themselves the name of Christ must pass its searching scrutiny..." 


Why do believers pass through a "searching scrutiny"? Its really quite simple. I already explained why in the section dealing with the accusations of Satan before God and the angels, but allow me to illustrate it differently. Take for example this paragraph by paragraph analysis of this chapter. Why am I doing it? Why am I "scrutinizing" this chapter so carefully? It is because many have "accused" it of being anti-gospel. That accusation leads me to engage in a judgment of this chapter. In the end, my "searching scrutiny" will allow me to know for sure whether or not this chapter is legalistic or gospel centered. If it fails the test then I know that it is a false teaching. However, if it is covered by the message of the cross then it passes the test. This is exactly why believers undergo a "searching scrutiny". Satan has accused us relentlessly before God. He sinned and got kicked out of heaven. We sinned and get welcomed in. How come? I can already hear Satan crying out "unjust!" God therefore performs a work of judgment on us, not to find excuses to kick us out of heaven, but to see whether or not we are covered by the blood of Jesus (remember this is for the benefit of the angels for God already knows). If we are the accusations of Satan are worthless. But if we have been hypocrites from the beginning, or if we have apostatized (turned away from Christ) then our names are removed from the records of heaven. 


So, how do we pass this "searching scrutiny"? We have already discovered that it is through faith in the righteousness of Christ. In the judgment we are not judged based on our performance, but based on whether or not we were "faithful to the end." How are we faithful to the end? It is only by placing all of our trust in Jesus and never turning back. How do we know if we have placed all of our trust in Jesus? The answer of scripture is that we have accepted Christ and our lives are now in harmony with Gods revealed will. Is your life in harmony with Gods will? Or are you still living in rebellion while claiming to be a Christian? This is the question we all must answer and its answer is the determining factor in the judgment. Again, this is not saying that we must be absolutely perfect. It is a call to sincerity.
 


Sins that have not been repented of and forsaken will not be pardoned and blotted out of the books of record, but will stand to witness against the sinner in the day of God. He may have committed his evil deeds in the light of day or in the darkness of night; but they were open and manifest before Him with whom we have to do. Angels of God witnessed each sin and registered it in the unerring records. Sin may be concealed, denied, covered up from father, mother, wife, children, and associates; no one but the guilty actors may cherish the least suspicion of the wrong; but it is laid bare before the intelligences of heaven. The darkness of the darkest night, the secrecy of all deceptive arts, is not sufficient to veil one thought from the knowledge of the Eternal. God has an exact record of every unjust account and every unfair dealing. He is not deceived by appearances of piety. He makes no mistakes in His estimation of character. Men may be deceived by those who are corrupt in heart, but God pierces all disguises and reads the inner life.


Once again, do not remove this paragraph from its context and thus place an undue yoke of bondage on yourself or other faithful Christians. The message here is not that we should be paranoid about whether or not we have repented and confessed every little sin. God is not going to kick you out of heaven for not having repented of the bubble gum you stole when you were twelve. To properly understand Ellen Whites statement we must understand what sin is. It is not merely a wrong act but a way of being. I can repent of my love of lying and forsake it without ever having repented of every little lie I have ever told. Likewise, I can repent of my love of lust without having to call to mind every instance in which I have lusted. God is not interested in plucking the fruit (individual sins) from the tree of sin, he wants to uproot the tree (sin as a way of being).


Ellen Whites message in this passage is clear. We cannot go to heaven where there is no sin if we love to sin and refuse to let it go. Do not confuse this with absolute perfection. This is not referring to adding to what Jesus did by overcoming all of your sins and then becoming worthy on account of that victory. Our victories add nothing to the already finished work of Christ. This is referring, once again, to sincerity. Are you truly a follower of Jesus? Or are you self-deceived into thinking you are? The answer is found in where your heart lies. Only those who have surrendered their lives to Jesus are saved. Saying a prayer, going through the church motions, being raised in a Christian family, or having a doctorate in theology does not mean you are saved. It is a personal experience with Jesus, a falling at the foot of the cross in complete dependence upon his grace, a grasping by faith the only merits by which we can be saved that can secure us salvation. So long as we depend on self, on our accomplishments, or on anything else but Jesus we cannot be saved. And we cannot claim his forgiveness while refusing his power to cleanse us from sin. This is like marrying a woman while refusing to be faithful to her. Its silly isn't it? And that is all Ellen White is referring to in this paragraph. Sincerity is the key, not absolute perfection. 


How solemn is the thought! Day after day, passing into eternity, bears its burden of records for the books of heaven. Words once spoken, deeds once done, can never be recalled. Angels have registered both the good and the evil. The mightiest conqueror upon the earth cannot call back the record of even a single day. Our acts, our words, even our most secret motives, all have their weight in deciding our destiny for weal or woe. Though they may be forgotten by us, they will bear their testimony to justify or condemn.


Once again, Ellen White is repeating the condition, or the problem we all face in judgment. In case you have not noticed, the last 3 paragraphs have been a repetition of the entire chapter so far. Ellen White has gone back to the introduction and the problem. This last paragraph is a repetition and expansion on the problem we face in the judgment as human beings. It is not meant to cause us to look within for our salvation, but to realize how utterly hopeless we are and how much we need Christ.


As the features of the countenance are reproduced with unerring accuracy on the polished plate of the artist, so the character is faithfully delineated in the books above. Yet how little solicitude is felt concerning that record which is to meet the gaze of heavenly beings. Could the veil which separates the visible from the invisible world be swept back, and the children of men behold an angel recording every word and deed, which they must meet again in the judgment, how many words that are daily uttered would remain unspoken, how many deeds would remain undone.


Once again we see repetition and expansion of the problem and a strong Lutheran/Wesleyan (Ellen White was a Methodist) rejection of once saved always saved. The next paragraph explains it more. 


In the judgment the use made of every talent will be scrutinized. How have we employed the capital lent us of Heaven? Will the Lord at His coming receive His own with usury? Have we improved the powers entrusted us, in hand and heart and brain, to the glory of God and the blessing of the world? How have we used our time, our pen, our voice, our money, our influence? What have we done for Christ, in the person of the poor, the afflicted, the orphan, or the widow? God has made us the depositaries of His holy word; what have we done with the light and truth given us to make men wise unto salvation? No value is attached to a mere profession of faith in Christ; only the love which is shown by works is counted genuine. Yet it is love alone which in the sight of Heaven makes any act of value. Whatever is done from love, however small it may appear in the estimation of men, is accepted and rewarded of God.


The interpretation of this paragraph hinges on this statement: "No value is attached to a mere profession of faith in Christ; only the love which is shown by works is counted genuine." If this is legalistic, then I suppose James was the biggest legalist of all because this sentence is simply repeating the message of the epistle of James. Likewise, men like Luther, Wesley, Moody, Graham, and Chan would also be considered legalists because they all taught(and teach) the same truths. There are myriads of Christians who live with a false sense of security. They think because they go to church they are saved, but they are deluded because their faith is nothing more than an intellectual or cultural ascent to a set of Bible facts. How do I know if I am saved? Not by how perfect we are but by what kind of life we live. Is your life one of love to God and man or one of love to self? Do we feed the poor? Clothe the naked? Visit the lonely? Do we defend the widows and the orphans? Or do we exploit the poor, ignore the naked, avoid the lonely and  despise the widows and orphans? Are we indifferent to the pain of others? Are we unmoved by the sufferings of the raped, the abused, the starving, the bullied? Doing these things (or others) will never save us, but works of love show that we are saved. The message of both James and Ellen White is simple: Don't think you are eternally secure just because you "believe" in God when you live like a devil for as James said, "even the demons believe and they tremble" (James 2:19). You may not be perfect, but are you sincere? Are you a lover of God? Or are you a selfish, self-centered, indifferent human being who is deluded into thinking you are actually saved? If I could summarize this entire chapter it would be in the form of this question: Are you sincere?


The hidden selfishness of men stands revealed in the books of heaven. There is the record of unfulfilled duties to their fellow men, of forgetfulness of the Saviour’s claims. There they will see how often were given to Satan the time, thought, and strength that belonged to Christ. Sad is the record which angels bear to heaven. Intelligent beings, professed followers of Christ, are absorbed in the acquirement of worldly possessions or the enjoyment of earthly pleasures. Money, time, and strength are sacrificed for display and self-indulgence; but few are the moments devoted to prayer, to the searching of the Scriptures, to humiliation of soul and confession of sin.


Once again, Ellen White paints a picture of the problem. While every Christian can learn from the words of this paragraph and apply them to their life, do not over-apply them to the sincere. These words are meant to arouse the minds of licentious Christians who claim Jesus with their lips but are 1) "absorbed in the acquirement of worldly possessions or the enjoyment of earthly pleasures," 2) sacrificing "[m]oney, time, and strength... for display and self-indulgence," and 3) all but neglecting Bible study, prayer, and the "humiliation of soul and confession of sin (another way of saying 'learning to depend entirely on the merits of Christ')." 


The key word in this passage is "absorbed." Its OK to have worldly possessions (nice car, house, clothes) and enjoy earthly pleasures (weddings, theme parks, innocent parties) but it is not OK for the Christian to be "absorbed" with these things. Likewise, we should not be "absorbed" with church, religion, theology, or ministry for the result would be the same. We need Christ to be the center of our lives and that is all this paragraph is saying.


Satan invents unnumbered schemes to occupy our minds, that they may not dwell upon the very work with which we ought to be best acquainted. The archdeceiver hates the great truths that bring to view an atoning sacrifice and an all-powerful mediator. He knows that with him everything depends on his diverting minds from Jesus and His truth.

There it is! The last few paragraphs culminate in the unveiling of Satan's masterful plan. And what is it? It is in "diverting minds from Jesus and His truth." The judgment is meant to arouse Christians to the reality that while they can enjoy assurance of salvation they must never entertain carnal security, or better said, self-confidence. Those who, like Peter, are self confident have no idea that Satan is plotting for their downfall. Peter learned that he was not as spiritual as he thought when he betrayed Christ. Even though he swore he never would (self-confidence) he discovered he was wrong. However, had Peter admitted his weaknesses and asked Christ for grace he would never have betrayed him. It was his self-confidence that led him to betray Christ. Likewise, false doctrines like "once saved always saved" have millions living in self-confidence. They do not pray, study, or grow in their relationship with Christ. They could care less about human trafficking,  the murder of unborn and born children alike, the needs of the hungry and the addicted, and even the needs of their own family and friends and yet, they call themselves Christians. I once met a young man who smoked, drank, did drugs, and slept with different women all the time. He spent money on himself and cared little for others and yet he thought he was saved because he prayed a prayer at a youth rally 4 years before. This is self-confidence masquerading as faith in the atonement. The investigative judgment demolishes this false security by showing us two things: number one, Christ is our only hope before conversion and, number two, he remains our only hope after conversion. This truth alone protects us from legalism and licentiousness at the same time.


Those who would share the benefits of the Saviour’s mediation should permit nothing to interfere with their duty to perfect holiness in the fear of God. The precious hours, instead of being given to pleasure, to display, or to gain seeking, should be devoted to an earnest, prayerful study of the word of truth. The subject of the sanctuary and the investigative judgment should be clearly understood by the people of God. All need a knowledge for themselves of the position and work of their great High Priest. Otherwise it will be impossible for them to exercise the faith which is essential at this time or to occupy the position which God designs them to fill. Every individual has a soul to save or to lose. Each has a case pending at the bar of God. Each must meet the great Judge face to face. How important, then, that every mind contemplate often the solemn scene when the judgment shall sit and the books shall be opened, when, with Daniel, every individual must stand in his lot, at the end of the days.


We are now entering the close of this chapter. At this close Ellen White once again presents the solution to the problem she has delineated above. Once again she declares that our only hope is in "the benefits of the Saviour’s mediation" and not in ourselves. However, what about the scary phrase that we should "permit nothing to interfere with [our] duty to perfect holiness in the fear of God"? Is Ellen White saying that we are saved by our faith and our works? Again, allow me to remind you that Ellen White has already made it amply clear that we can only be saved by the blood of Jesus. No extra ingredients. Period. So do not commit the fallacy of interpreting this paragraph (and the remaining paragraphs) outside of their gospel context. To do so would be doing violence to the text. Since Ellen White has been consistently challenging the heresy of "once saved always saved" while simultaneously affirming our desperate need of Jesus only we must, out of intellectual honesty, continue to interpret her statements in that light.


First of all, while Ellen White believed in perfection (as do the Bible authors and as did John Wesley) she never teaches that a certain level of absolute sinless perfectionism must be reached in order to be saved at last. Many Adventists stumble over this point. There is a huge difference between a professed Christian who cherishes hidden sin and an honest Christian who, by looking to Jesus is daily gaining victories, yet always struggling with sin. Every honest and sincere Christian finds themselves in the latter category. I don't know of any sincere Christian that loves to sin and wants it to stay that way. But all of us will, until the return of Christ, have sins to overcome. Ellen White herself said,


So long as Satan reigns, we shall have self to subdue, besetting sins to overcome; so long as life shall last, there will be no stopping place, no point which we can reach and say, I have fully attained. Sanctification is the result of lifelong obedience {AA 560.3}.
Therefore, it would be disingenuous to say that Ellen White is teaching perfectionism in this paragraph. All Ellen White is doing is repeating and expanding what she said before: You cannot claim Christs righteousness if you are a hypocrite. That's what this entire chapter is about! And yet people who are not hypocrites read it on the surface and walk away thinking they are never going to be good enough to pass the judgment. Away with such a thought! It is not the intent of this chapter at all! So when Ellen White says that, "Those who would share the benefits of the Saviour’s mediation should permit nothing to interfere with their duty to perfect holiness in the fear of God" she is not saying that you need to reach a level of perfection before God can finally accept you into his family. All she is saying is that we should be committed and faithful Christians who have Jesus at the center of our lives and not self, the world, or anything else. Those who take their eyes off of Jesus because he seems to be taking long (the foolish virgins Matt. 25) and begin to settle down in this world are playing a dangerous game. We should never take our eyes off of Jesus. And what about, "The precious hours, instead of being given to pleasure, to display, or to gain seeking, should be devoted to an earnest, prayerful study of the word of truth"? Does this mean we should be like the desert fathers and go live in a monastery somewhere? Of course not. Ellen Whites own life testifies to a woman who enjoyed pleasure, laughter, and success. The key is in her phrase "instead of being given to" which is another way of saying "absorbed" or "obsessed". Ellen White is simply repeating the same thing she said before in different ways.

The paragraph then challenges us with an admonition to understand the work of investigative judgment happening now. This is imperative in a time when people are losing faith because Jesus seems to be taking forever to come back. Its also important because we are so close to the second coming that Satan is doubling his efforts to distract us from what really matters - a relationship with God. Just look at the world around you. We are faced with myriads of distractions. The investigative judgment is a wonderful teaching that reminds us that while we can enjoy the innocent pleasures of this world we must not become consumed with any of those things. Jesus is coming soon. Its all going to be burned up. And in a time when Satan is trying harder than ever to deceive and destroy (Matt. 24) the truth of the investigative judgment keeps us focused on our relationship with Jesus. In other words: Enjoy Facebook, iPads, and good times but don't forget about Jesus. Don't make him a second class citizen in your life. Its Jesus that is going to get you through the final crisis, not Facebook. So stay connected to him. Is that legalistic? Is that scary? Is that "bad news"? I don't think so.


How about: "How important, then, that every mind contemplate often the solemn scene when the judgment shall sit and the books shall be opened, when, with Daniel, every individual must stand in his lot, at the end of the days"? That's a scary statement isn't it? Remember the context. If there is anything I can ever stress to anyone is that "context is everything." This context is soon going to be repeated very forcefully -  we are not "once saved always saved". Many Adventists join the church with a good grasp on the gospel, and then like the Galatians, they are swept away by some offshoot ministry that claims they have to be absolutely perfect to be saved. They become legalistic and loose sight of Jesus. Like the Galatians, when they take their eyes off of Jesus and place them on themselves, their commandment keeping, their diet, and their performance they have "fallen away from grace." It is only by total dependence on Jesus that we can be safe. Contemplating the "solemn scene" of the judgment reminds us that we can never take our eyes off of Jesus. Sabbath keeping, health reform, etc. all have their proper place, but none should replace Christ. The solemn judgment reminds us that "not eating pork" will not save us in a judgment where all of our sins are laid bare. Only one thing can save us - the blood of Jesus - and the judgment reminds us, as we are bombarded by legalism from the conservatives and licentiousness from the liberals, to keep our eyes fixed on him. Nothing else! 


All who have received the light upon these subjects are to bear testimony of the great truths which God has committed to them. The sanctuary in heaven is the very center of Christ’s work in behalf of men. It concerns every soul living upon the earth. It opens to view the plan of redemption, bringing us down to the very close of time and revealing the triumphant issue of the contest between righteousness and sin. It is of the utmost importance that all should thoroughly investigate these subjects and be able to give an answer to everyone that asketh them a reason of the hope that is in them.


This paragraph simply applies to those who believe the teaching of the investigative judgment. We should not just know it, but be able to share it. How sad that the majority of Adventists can't even begin to explain the investigative judgment.


The intercession of Christ in man’s behalf in the sanctuary above is as essential to the plan of salvation as was His death upon the cross. By His death He began that work which after His resurrection He ascended to complete in heaven. We must by faith enter within the veil, “whither the forerunner is for us entered.” Hebrews 6:20. There the light from the cross of Calvary is reflected. There we may gain a clearer insight into the mysteries of redemption. The salvation of man is accomplished at an infinite expense to heaven; the sacrifice made is equal to the broadest demands of the broken law of God. Jesus has opened the way to the Father’s throne, and through His mediation the sincere desire of all who come to Him in faith may be presented before God.


Many people misunderstand this statement to say that the atonement was not completed on the cross. However, that is not what this statement is saying at all. What it is saying is that his work on our behalf has not yet been completed. So while the atonement on the cross is finished, his ministry is not. This is not only clear in scripture but even the great evangelist Billy Graham wrote, 
"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."*
It is obvious to anyone who reads scripture that while the death of Jesus is complete and perfect and provides everything needed for the salvation of man his ministry was not completed at the cross. The day of Pentecost  the mediation and intercession in the sanctuary, the building of our mansions in heaven, the day of judgment, the second coming, and the eradication of sin and recreation of the earth are all part of the ministry of Christ on behalf of man. Thus Ellen White could say,
[Christ] planted the cross between heaven and earth, and when the Father beheld the sacrifice of His Son, He bowed before it in recognition of its perfection. “It is enough,” He said. “The atonement is complete” {RH September 24, 1901, par. 11}.
And yet say, "By His death He began that work which after His resurrection He ascended to complete in heaven." The atonement that guarantees our salvation is complete, but in the heavenly sanctuary Christ appropriates the benefits of his death to our individual lives in "real time."** Do you realize what this means? Christianity is not only about what happened 2,000 years ago (death of Christ) or about what will happen some day in the future (second coming) but it is about what is happening in the here and now! What a beautiful message this is that right now, at this moment in "real time," God is working on behalf of man. The final phase of his ministry began in 1844 and in the sanctuary service this phase of judgment is known as the "Day of Atonement" and is the final phase of ministry before the year ended. The implications are awesome! Many people ask, "Why hasn't Jesus come yet? You Christians have been saying he would return since the first century A.D. and its 2014! Where is he? Our answer is straight forward, "since 1844 he began his final phase of ministry on behalf of man. No one knows when it will end, but it is the last thing he will do before the movie ends. How awesome is the thought that prophetically speaking Jesus is now engaged in the final work and when it is over he will come! We are totally living in the last days.

Notice how Ellen White closes this paragraph: "Jesus has opened the way to the Father’s throne..." While Ellen White spent the last few paragraphs repeating and expanding "the problem" she now, once again, presents the "solution" and it is not our works, our performance, or our obedience. It is Jesus!


“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” Proverbs 28:13. If those who hide and excuse their faults could see how Satan exults over them, how he taunts Christ and holy angels with their course, they would make haste to confess their sins and to put them away. Through defects in the character, Satan works to gain control of the whole mind, and he knows that if these defects are cherished, he will succeed. Therefore he is constantly seeking to deceive the followers of Christ with his fatal sophistry that it is impossible for them to overcome. But Jesus pleads in their behalf His wounded hands, His bruised body; and He declares to all who would follow Him: “My grace is sufficient for thee.” 2 Corinthians 12:9. “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:29, 30. Let none, then, regard their defects as incurable. God will give faith and grace to overcome them.


Again, Ellen White is dealing with sincerity here. What Christian wants to live in rebellion to God? If you want Jesus and want your sin as well then there is a problem with your relationship with God. You are still in rebellion to him. Ellen White is once again appealing to sincerity. She is not teaching absolute perfection here. Notice she does not say that defects in the character will prove our ruin. She says that "if these defects are cherished, [Satan] will succeed." The key word is "cherished." Do you love your sin? Then you cannot go to heaven. You cannot love both God and sin. As one of my professors once said, "You cannot love someone and hurt them at the same time. Eventually, you will either stop hurting them or you will stop loving them." Jesus also taught this when he said "you cannot love both God and money." This does not mean you will be absolutely perfect and that you have to constantly live in fear of not going to heaven because you have defects of character. Remember, Ellen White said that said, "So long as Satan reigns, we shall have self to subdue, besetting sins to overcome; so long as life shall last, there will be no stopping place, no point which we can reach and say, I have fully attained." Satan will reign until the second coming, and therefore, we will have defects of character to overcome and when Jesus comes we will still be sinful! But Jesus is with us every step of the way. He is holding onto us. He is giving us his love, and his grace, and his power to live for him. As we fall deeper in love with him we learn to hate sin. While we may still fall, we are no longer slaves to sin. We are free to love as God created us to love. However, we must never assume that overcoming is the ground of our acceptance with God, for Ellen White was clear that, 
We may enjoy the favor of God. 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 {2SM 32}. 
We are now living in the great day of atonement. In the typical service, while the high priest was making the atonement for Israel, all were required to afflict their souls by repentance of sin and humiliation before the Lord, lest they be cut off from among the people. In like manner, all who would have their names retained in the book of life should now, in the few remaining days of their probation, afflict their souls before God by sorrow for sin and true repentance. There must be deep, faithful searching of heart. The light, frivolous spirit indulged by so many professed Christians must be put away. There is earnest warfare before all who would subdue the evil tendencies that strive for the mastery. The work of preparation is an individual work. We are not saved in groups. The purity and devotion of one will not offset the want of these qualities in another. 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. Everyone must be tested and found without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.

Here we have yet another paragraph which, if torn out of its context, will breed insecurity and legalism. But kept within its context this paragraph poses no problem to our assurance of salvation. Here Ellen White appeals to all of us for we are all prone to take our eyes off of Jesus, but especially to those who live in carnal security. So lets follow her line of thought. In the day of atonement those who did not want to repent and search their hearts were cut off from Israel. In other words, those who wanted nothing to do with God, or who wanted both the benefits of God plus their sins, were given what they wanted - separation from Gods people. Our churches are filled with people who are living in carnal security. They think they are saved because they go to church but they live like the world. What do I mean by world? Uncaring, unloving, proud, boasters, money hungry, selfish etc. Ellen White is once again appealing to us that we should be sincere. Therefore, if you gave your life to Christ but have 
been swept away by legalistic doctrines or by the temptations of this world and yet you still think you are in Gods grace you are deceiving yourself. Thus, even Calvinist website gotquestions.org (which supports once saved always saved) could write,
For the truly converted, then, continuing to live sinfully is not an option. Because our conversion resulted in a completely new nature, our desire is to no longer live in sin. Yes, we still sin, but instead of wallowing in it as we once did, we now hate it and wish to be delivered from it. The idea of “taking advantage” of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf by continuing to live sinfully is unthinkable. If a person believes himself to be a Christian and still desires to live the old, sinful life, he has reason to doubt his salvation. “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)
This paragraph, and the quoted text, are exactly what Ellen White is saying. When she says that "[t]he light, frivolous spirit indulged by so many professed Christians must be put away" she is not saying that Christians should be gloomy, unhappy, naval gazing people who are always fretting about how sinful they are. She is appealing to those who are self-deceived into thinking that they can spend hours on the internet watching pornography, waste money on fancy cars and clothes while ignoring the poor and afflicted, mistreat illegal immigrants by exploiting them, and cheat on their spouses and still think that they are saved and going to heaven. Such people live with a "light and frivolous" spirit. They don't take their selfishness and lovelessness seriously. They laugh it off as unimportant. They shrug their shoulders and say "if I believe I am saved" while they cheat on their taxes and underpay their employees. So do not rip this paragraph out of its context to say that Christians should always be anxious and worried and unhappy. Ellen White herself was a happy, light-hearted woman who named her pet dog Tiglath Peleser (after the evil Assyrian king in 2 Kings - humor anyone?) and once fell off a rock because she was laughing so hard. She also wrote that,
We should never give to the world the false impression that Christians are a gloomy, unhappy people. If our eyes are fixed on Jesus, we shall see a compassionate Redeemer, and shall catch light from His countenance. Wherever His Spirit reigns, there peace abides. And there will be joy also, for there is a calm, holy trust in God. {DA 152.5}
What about that scary closing thought in which Ellen 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. Everyone must be tested and found without spot or wrinkle or any such thing"? Well, the question is, How are we to be "found without spot or wrinkle or any such thing"? She already answered it a few paragraphs above when she said, "Christ will clothe His faithful ones with His own righteousness, that He may present them to His Father “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.” So the real question is, are you trusting in Jesus and clinging to him by faith or 1) are you trusting in your own works or 2) turning your back on Jesus by living for the things of this world? Our only hope is in placing our entire trust on Jesus and allowing his love to keep us there.

Solemn are the scenes connected with the closing work of the atonement. Momentous are the interests involved therein. The judgment is now passing in the sanctuary above. For many years this work has been in progress. Soon—none know how soon—it will pass to the cases of the living. In the awful presence of God our lives are to come up in review. At this time above all others it behooves every soul to heed the Saviour’s admonition: “Watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.” Mark 13:33. “If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.” Revelation 3:3.

Again, this is in the context of the reality that "[Satan] is constantly seeking to deceive the followers of Christ". He wants to deceive us with either licentiousness or legalism. Either way he can take us away from Christ and place us in his realm of influence. This is solemn (serious) stuff! So while we are invited to enjoy life, go to the beach, wear nice clothes, love friends and family, enjoy success and entertainment, have fun with our kids, and experience all that is good and joyful in this world we are never to allow anything to get in the way of our love for and connection to Jesus. As Jesus himself said,
"If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.… (John 15:6-8)
When the work of the investigative judgment closes, the destiny of all will have been decided for life or death. Probation is ended a short time before the appearing of the Lord in the clouds of heaven. Christ in the Revelation, looking forward to that time, declares: “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. And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Revelation 22:11, 12.

How is the destiny of all decided for life or death? The answer is simple: Are you covered by the blood of Jesus? Or are you not? 

The righteous and the wicked will still be living upon the earth in their mortal state—men will be planting and building, eating and drinking, all unconscious that the final, irrevocable decision has been pronounced in the sanctuary above. Before the Flood, after Noah entered the ark, God shut him in and shut the ungodly out; but for seven days the people, knowing not that their doom was fixed, continued their careless, pleasure-loving life and mocked the warnings of impending judgment. “So,” says the Saviour, “shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Matthew 24:39. Silently, unnoticed as the midnight thief, will come the decisive hour which marks the fixing of every man’s destiny, the final withdrawal of mercy’s offer to guilty men.


This paragraph actually demonstrates just how beautiful the message of the investigative judgment is. Notice that Ellen White is here speaking of those who have rejected the message of Christs mercy. There are two groups. The righteous and the wicked. The righteous have passed through the investigative judgment and have been found worthy because they are covered in the blood of Jesus, while the wicked have not passed through this judgment at all (except for those who once were believers and turned away though legalism or licentiousness)! Now pay close attention. Probation closes and with it goes "the final withdrawal of mercy’s offer to guilty men." Notice: Gods offer is one of mercy. Those who accept this offer are written in the book of life and their life comes up for judgment. They are found covered by the blood and are thus worthy. When we heed Gods offer of mercy we come up in the investigative judgment. The wicked who reject this offer never come up in the investigative judgment because that judgment is for the righteous and the (pseudo-disciples). Remember how Ellen White said that "[t]he judgment of the wicked is a distinct and separate work, and takes place at a later period"? The Bible calls this the Great White Throne judgment. Just as in the investigative judgment only those who have professed Christ are judged, in the Great White Throne judgment, only those who have rejected Christ are judged. The investigative judgment is no fear for those who are covered by the blood of Jesus - but the Great White Throne judgment presents no promise of redemption, no offer of mercy, and no chance of acquittal  Those who pass through this judgment are there because they are lost. Do you catch the implications of this? If your name does not come up in the investigative judgment it will automatically come up in the Great White Throne judgment. This means, you want your name to come up in the investigative judgment! Because if it does it is because your name is written in the book of life! And you are judged and found innocent on the basis of the blood of Jesus.

“Watch ye therefore: ... lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping.” Mark 13:35, 36. Perilous is the condition of those who, growing weary of their watch, turn to the attractions of the world. While the man of business is absorbed in the pursuit of gain, while the pleasure lover is seeking indulgence, while the daughter of fashion is arranging her adornments—it may be in that hour the Judge of all the earth will pronounce the sentence: “Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.” Daniel 5:27.


 Is the investigative judgment scary? It is for the hypocrites. Those who take their eyes off of Jesus and place them on their own works and performance are in danger of being "found wanting." And those who take their eyes off of Jesus having "grown weary of their watch" and "turn to the attractions of this word" are also in danger of being "found wanting." Our only hope is to be hidden in Jesus Christ. 

None of us are perfect. None of us are righteous. We can never in one lifetime, or even a thousand, think to live in perfect obedience to all of Gods requirements. Some try. But while they focus all of their attention to obey every health law possible they fail to obey in a thousand other areas. While some do well in helping the poor they may fail in their prayer life and while some do well in all of these they may fail in their use of time. None of us can ever be good enough to pass through the judgment and be found "not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing." And the message of the investigative judgment is a powerful deterrent from legalism. It reminds me that no matter how much I may succeed in my obedience in one area, I will always fail in another. And even if I did not, there is a terrible record of every wrong deed I have ever done, every thought, every impulse - wasted time and opportunities - they are all there. What hope do I have then of being declared innocent just because I keep the Sabbath? Or follow the health message to utmost perfection? None, for it is written, "Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins." (Ecc. 7:20). There is no hope for me except in one thing and that is to "be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith" (Phil. 3:9). 


None of us are perfect. None of us are righteous. We can never in one lifetime, or even a thousand, think to live in perfect obedience to all of Gods requirements. Some give up. But while they wallow in their sins thinking it is impossible to overcome they take their eyes off of Christ and begin to live for pleasure. Sin is selfishness, and the life of such a Christian soon loses sight of the love of God and becomes a selfish life. Prayer, Bible study, worship - all are sacrificed for the sake of entertainment, wealth, and popularity. Life becomes all about me. I no longer see the savior. I no longer depend on him. And yet, I pretend everything is OK because I believe that Jesus died for me. But the judgment reminds me that I cannot afford to live without the blood of Jesus. There is a terrible record of every wrong deed I have ever done, every thought, every impulse - wasted time and opportunities - they are all there. What hope do I have then of being declared innocent just because I intellectually agree with Bible facts? None, for it is written, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luk. 9:62). There is no hope for me except in one thing and that is to "be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith" (Phil. 3:9)


In light of all of this, I conclude: The chapter "Facing Life's Record," which describes the implications of the investigative judgment, stands in complete harmony with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The believer faces the judgment with joy and confidence for he/she knows that they are covered by the blood of Jesus and that it is through faith and not works. Ellen White summarized it well when she wrote:
Through the imputed righteousness of Christ, the sinner may feel that he is pardoned, and may know that the law no more condemns him, because he is in harmony with all its precepts. It is his privilege to count himself innocent when he reads and thinks of the retribution that will fall upon the unbelieving and sinful. By faith he lays hold of the righteousness of Christ. . . . Knowing himself to be a sinner, a transgressor of the holy law of God, he looks to the perfect obedience of Christ, to His death upon Calvary for the sins of the world; and he has the assurance that he is justified by faith in the merit and sacrifice of Christ. He realizes that the law was obeyed in his behalf by the Son of God, and that the penalty of transgression cannot fall upon the believing sinner. The active obedience of Christ clothes the believing sinner with the righteousness that meets the demands of the law {SD 240.4}.

Further Reading:

The Investigative Judgment - Is it Biblical?

REclaiming Adventism

The Urgent Implications of the Pre-Advent Judgment

Never Good Enough - The Close of Probation and Sinless Perfectionism

The SDA Gospel is Legalistic - Isn't It?

Is A Christian Once Saved Always Saved? (A Lutheran View)

Is A Christian Once Saved Always Saved? (A Methodist View)

Is A Christian Once Saved Always Saved? (An Adventist View)

Resources:

http://1844madesimple.org/


_______________

Billy Graham, The Holy Spirit: Activating God’s Power in Your Life [W Publishing Group, 1988], 71.

** To avoid confusion it is also important to realize that Adventists place a wider definition on the word "atonement" than do other Christians. We believe that the sacrificial atonement was full and complete on Calvary  but we also refer to the rest of Christs ministry (intercession, second coming, punishment of the wicked etc.) as atonement. Thus we can say that the atonement was completed and is not yet complete. The sacrificial atonement is 100% complete and nothing needs to be added to it, but the rest of the atonement (ministry of Christ on behalf of man) will not be completed until the new earth. 
Unutterable
Weird. That was the word that flashed through my mind as I ordered my Veggie Burger from a local restaurant last Sunday. My wife and I were at the Chattanooga Market enjoying the peach festival and I was hungry. So I did the only logical thing one should do in such a scenario. I went and got a burger. A good burger I might add.

The guy who served me was odd and so was everyone else working at his booth. They were hippie, and while I have had many hippie-like friends I have never actually interacted with an all-out hippie. The experience was, well, interesting. Or should I simply say - weird. There was an aura of peculiarity that surrounded not only the vendors hair-due and fashion but also his social link. By social link I mean that connection you automatically establish with everyone you interact with. The connection is always there silently building a bridge between yourself and the other person. Sometimes the connection is good. You know straight away that you click with this person. At other times its terrible and you know straight away that its best to walk away. And then there are the times when its just plain weird.


As I stood there waiting for my sandwich a quote from the book Ministry of Health and Healing by SDA pioneer Ellen White entered my mind. It says:

The savior regards with infinite tenderness the souls whom He has purchased with His blood…. He looks upon them with unutterable longing.
I had just spoken with a weird guy. I looked to my right and saw an old short lady who was out of style. A man in his 50's with a mustache. Then another older gentleman wearing a bikers shirt. I looked at them, and others, and asked myself, "do I long for each of them with unutterable longing?" The answer was no. Truth be told, I would be perfectly content with never having a relationship with any of those people. And yet, Jesus longs for each of them. He longs for the weird hippie guy, the old out-of-style lady, the homeless, the poor, the addicts, the criminals and every other human being on planet earth. But not only does he long for them, he actually does so with a longing that is unutterable. In other words, it cannot be described, expressed, or defined. The longing that Jesus has for all of us is beyond human poetry and prose. That longing doesn't change depending on who you are and what you are like. It doesn't change if you sin a lot or of you sin a little. The love of Jesus doesn't depend on you. He doesn't love us if we love him. He loves us regardless. Genuinely.  Without condition. So while society may ignore you, you friends may betray you, and the world may seem against you there is always one who is for you, who loves you, and who longs for you with "unutterable longing." Jesus. 
Troubling Statements of Ellen White



I have had some comments recently about contradictory statements that Ellen White makes concerning salvation. In order to shed more light on the issue I am re-posting an old blog-post that deals with that topic. This blog is really an excerpt from my paper on the Investigative Judgment doctrine taught by the SDA church. I am also adding some other quotes at the very bottom that help shed more light on the issue of salvation as Ellen White and SDA's understand it. Those same quotes along with official SDA statements concerning our understanding of salvation can be found in the post The SDA Gospel is Legalistic - Isn't It? Blessings!



Troubling Statements of Ellen White 

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.”[1] 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 us—the perfection of His character? When the Lord’s people reach this mark, they will be sealed in their foreheads.”[2] 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 Father’s 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.”[3] 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 and are protected in the time of trouble must reflect the image of Jesus fully.”[4] 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.”[5] 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.”[6] 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.’”[7] 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.”[8] Later on He said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”[9] The apostle James writes, “Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?”[10] 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.”[11] 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.”[12] 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 sinner’s account.”[13] 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 Christ’s 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 effectual plea in our behalf. He is able to silence the accuser with arguments founded not upon our merits, but on His own.”[14]
Further Reading: Facing Life's Record: An Analysis of the Great Controversies Scariest Chapter




[1] Ellen G White, Christ Object Lessons, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 69.
[2] ibid., Our High Calling, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 150.
[3] ibid., The Great Controversy, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 623.
[4] ibid., Early Writings, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 71.
[5] Teresa and Arthur Beem. It’s 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.
[6] Ellen G White, The Great Controversy, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 489.
[7] Matt. 19:16, 21.
[8] Matt. 5:29.
[9] Matt. 5:48.
[10] Jam. 2:21.
[11] Rev. 22:14.
[12] Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 2,  EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 32.
[13] ibid., Selected Messages, book 1,  EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 32
[14] Ellen G White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012], 472.



A Few More Quotes

A legal religion can never lead souls to Christ; for it is a loveless, Christless religion. Fasting or prayer that is actuated by a self-justifying spirit is an abomination in the sight of God. The solemn assembly for worship, the round of religious ceremonies, the external humiliation, the imposing sacrifice, proclaim that the doer of these things regards himself as righteous, and as entitled to heaven; but it is all a deception. Our own works can never purchase salvation.  {DA 280.2}


The fountain of the heart must be purified before the streams can become pure. He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility. There is no safety for one who has merely a legal religion, a form of godliness. The Christian's life is not a modification or improvement of the old, but a transformation of nature. There is a death to self and sin, and a new life altogether. This change can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit.  {DA 172.1} 


A legal religion has been thought quite the correct religion for this time. But it is a mistake. The rebuke of Christ to the Pharisees is applicable to those who have lost from the heart their first love. A cold, legal religion can never lead souls to Christ; for it is a loveless, Christless religion… Works will not buy for us an entrance into heaven. The one great Offering that has been made is ample for all who will believe. The love of Christ will animate the believer with new life. {1SM 388.1}


The spirit of bondage is engendered by seeking to live in accordance with legal religion, through striving to fulfill the claims of the law in our own strength. There is hope for us only as we come under the Abrahamic covenant, which is the covenant of grace by faith in Christ Jesus. The gospel preached to Abraham, through which he had hope, was the same gospel that is preached to us today, through which we have hope. Abraham looked unto Jesus, who is also the Author and the Finisher of our faith (YI Sept. 22, 1892).  {6BC 1077.7}


Legal religion will not answer for this age. We may perform all the outward acts of service and yet be as destitute of the quickening influence of the Holy Spirit as the hills of Gilboa were destitute of dew and rain. We all need spiritual moisture, and we need also the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness to soften and subdue our hearts. {6T 417.3} 


If you would gather together everything that is good and holy and noble and lovely in man and then present the subject to the angels of God as acting a part in the salvation of the human soul or in merit, the proposition would be rejected as treason.{FW 24.1}


Christ for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich. And any works that man can render to God will be far less than nothingness. My requests are made acceptable only because they are laid upon Christ’s righteousness. The idea of doing anything to merit the grace of pardon is fallacy from beginning to end. “Lord, in my hand no price I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.” {FW 24.2}


When men learn they cannot earn righteousness by their own merit of works, and they look with firm and entire reliance upon Jesus Christ as their only hope, there will not be so much of self and so little of Jesus. Souls and bodies are defiled and polluted by sin, the heart is estranged from God, yet many are struggling in their own finite strength to win salvation by good works. Jesus, they think, will do some of the saving; they must do the rest. They need to see by faith the righteousness of Christ as their only hope for time and for eternity. {FW 25.3}


The cross of Calvary is a pledge to us of everlasting life. {EV 186.3}


We stand in favor before God, not because of any merit in ourselves, but because of our faith in "the Lord our righteousness" {ST 2:497} 
Penances, mortifications of the flesh, constant confession of sin, without sincere repentance; fasts, festivals, and outward observances, unaccompanied by true devotion—all these are of no value whatever. The sacrifice of Christ is sufficient; He made a whole, efficacious offering to God; and human effort without the merit of Christ, is worthless.... {EV 192.1}
You will meet with those who will say, “You are too much excited over this matter. You are too much in earnest. You should not be reaching for the righteousness of Christ, and making so much of that. You should preach the law.” As a people, we have preached the law until we are as dry as the hills of Gilboa that had neither dew nor rain. We must preach Christ in the law, and there will be sap and nourishment in the preaching that will be as food to the famishing flock of God. We must not trust in our own merits at all, but in the merits of Jesus of Nazareth. {1888M 560.5}


Perfection through our own good works we can never attain. The soul who sees Jesus by faith, repudiates his own righteousness. He sees himself as incomplete, his repentance insufficient, his strongest faith but feebleness, his most costly sacrifice as meager, and he sinks in humility at the foot of the cross. But a voice speaks to him from the oracles of God's word. In amazement he hears the message, "Ye are complete in him." Now all is at rest in the soul. No longer must he strive to find some worthiness in himself, some meritorious deed by which to gain the favor of God {ST, 2:497; 7/04/92}. 
The SDA Gospel Is Legalistic - Isn't it?
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I receive a lot of comments and personal messages about Adventism’s so called false gospel. I am not offended by these comments because I fully understand the reason why people would feel that way. I am the first to admit that for a long time Adventism has resided in the swamps of legalism. For many, Sabbath keeping has become salvific, health reform has become a test of fellowship, and petty arguments have been raged over wearing wedding bands. This was true even in Ellen Whites day, thus she could say,


As a people, we have preached the law until we are as dry as the hills of Gilboa that had neither dew nor rain. – 1888 Materials, p. 560 
The message of the gospel of His grace was to be given to the church in clear and distinct lines, that the world should no longer say that Seventh-day Adventists talk the law, the law, but do not teach or believe Christ. – Evangelism, p. 191
Many of our ministers have merely sermonized, presenting subjects in an argumentative way, and scarcely mentioning the saving power of the Redeemer. Their testimony was destitute of the saving blood of Christ. - Evangelism, p. 188 


However, when talking about what Adventism believes it is important to distinguish between what the church officially teaches and what members, ministers, and authors within the denomination believe. Because of this I have decided to share quotations about the doctrine of salvation from the book Seventh-Day Adventists Believe, put forth by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. This book is basically an exposition of all of our fundamental doctrines. Afterward, I will share some quotes from co-founder and SDA pioneer/prophetess Ellen G. White.

Seventh-day Adventism and the Gospel


Jesus lived a pure, holy, and loving life, relying completely on God. This precious life He shares with repentant sinners as a gift. His perfect character is portrayed as a wedding garment (Matt. 22:11) or a robe of righteousness (Isa. 61:10) that He gives to replace the filthy rags of human attempts to achieve righteousness (Isa. 64:6). – 129


“Those who accept by faith that God has reconciled the world to Himself in Christ and who submit to Him will receive from God the invaluable gift of justification with its immediate fruit of peace with God (Romans 5:1). No longer the objects of God’s wrath, justified believers have become the objects of God’s favor.” – 131


God’s ministry of reconciliation reveals the futility of human endeavors to obtain salvation through works of the law. Insight into divine grace leads to the acceptance of the justifying righteousness available through faith in Christ. The gratitude of those who have experienced forgiveness makes obedience a joy; works, then, are not the ground of salvation but its fruitage. – 131


The more we understands God’s grace in light of the cross, the less self-righteous we will feel, and the more we will realize how blessed we are. – 131


Trying, part from Christ, to develop the good in oneself is counterproductive. The experience of salvation that reaches deep into the soul comes from God alone. – 134


Only through Jesus Christ can one experience salvation, “for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” – 134


Many wrongly believe that their standing before God depends on their good or bad deeds. – 136


Through justification by faith in Christ, His righteousness is imputed to us. We are right with God because of Christ our substitute…. As repentant sinners, we experience full and complete pardon. We are reconciled with God! – 137


Justification also brings the assurance of the believer’s acceptance. It brings the joy of being reunited with God now. – 138


How may we become perfect? The Holy Spirit brings us to the perfection of Christ. By faith, Christ’s perfect character becomes ours. People can never claim that perfection independently, as if it were their innate possession of theirs by right. Perfection is a gift of God. – 143


Apart from Christ human beings cannot obtain righteousness. – 143


In Christ these qualities constitute our perfection. He completed, once and for all, our sanctification and redemption. No one can add to what He has done. Our wedding garment, or robe of righteousness, was wrought out by Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. – 143


Neither Christlike character traits nor faultless behavior is the ground of our acceptance with God. Saving righteousness comes from the one righteous Man, Jesus, and is conveyed to us by the Holy Spirit.  We can contribute nothing to Christ’s gift of righteousness – we can only receive it. No one other than Christ is righteous (Rom. 3:10); independent human righteousness is only filthy rags. – 146


Even what we do in response to Christ’s saving love cannot form the basis of our acceptance with God. That acceptance is identified with the work of Christ. In bringing Christ to us, the Holy Spirit brings that acceptance. – 146


Ellen G. White and the Gospel


A legal religion can never lead souls to Christ; for it is a loveless, Christless religion. Fasting or prayer that is actuated by a self-justifying spirit is an abomination in the sight of God. The solemn assembly for worship, the round of religious ceremonies, the external humiliation, the imposing sacrifice, proclaim that the doer of these things regards himself as righteous, and as entitled to heaven; but it is all a deception. Our own works can never purchase salvation.  {DA 280.2}


The fountain of the heart must be purified before the streams can become pure. He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility. There is no safety for one who has merely a legal religion, a form of godliness. The Christian's life is not a modification or improvement of the old, but a transformation of nature. There is a death to self and sin, and a new life altogether. This change can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit.  {DA 172.1} 


A legal religion has been thought quite the correct religion for this time. But it is a mistake. The rebuke of Christ to the Pharisees is applicable to those who have lost from the heart their first love. A cold, legal religion can never lead souls to Christ; for it is a loveless, Christless religion… Works will not buy for us an entrance into heaven. The one great Offering that has been made is ample for all who will believe. The love of Christ will animate the believer with new life. {1SM 388.1}


The spirit of bondage is engendered by seeking to live in accordance with legal religion, through striving to fulfill the claims of the law in our own strength. There is hope for us only as we come under the Abrahamic covenant, which is the covenant of grace by faith in Christ Jesus. The gospel preached to Abraham, through which he had hope, was the same gospel that is preached to us today, through which we have hope. Abraham looked unto Jesus, who is also the Author and the Finisher of our faith (YI Sept. 22, 1892).  {6BC 1077.7}


Legal religion will not answer for this age. We may perform all the outward acts of service and yet be as destitute of the quickening influence of the Holy Spirit as the hills of Gilboa were destitute of dew and rain. We all need spiritual moisture, and we need also the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness to soften and subdue our hearts. {6T 417.3} 


Brother M, you have not taken a judicious course with your family. Your children do not love you. They have more hatred than love. Your wife does not love you. You do not take a course to be loved. You are an extremist. You are severe, exacting, arbitrary, to your children. You talk the truth to them, but do not carry its principles into your everyday life. You are not patient, forbearing, and forgiving. You have so long indulged your own spirit, you are so ready to fly into a passion if provoked, that it looks exceedingly doubtful whether you will make efforts sufficient to meet the mind of Christ. You do not possess the power of endurance, forbearance, gentleness, and love. These Christian graces must be possessed by you before you can be truly a Christian. You cannot in your own strength put away your errors and wrongs; they have been increasing upon you for years, because you have not seen them in their hideousness and in the strength of God resolutely put them away. By living faith you must lay hold on an arm that is mighty to save. Humble your poor, proud, self-righteous heart before God; get low, very low, all broken in your sinfulness at His feet. Devote yourself to the work of preparation. Rest not until you can truly say: My Redeemer liveth, and, because He lives, I shall live also. {2T 88.1}


If you would gather together everything that is good and holy and noble and lovely in man and then present the subject to the angels of God as acting a part in the salvation of the human soul or in merit, the proposition would be rejected as treason.{FW 24.1}


Christ for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich. And any works that man can render to God will be far less than nothingness. My requests are made acceptable only because they are laid upon Christ’s righteousness. The idea of doing anything to merit the grace of pardon is fallacy from beginning to end. “Lord, in my hand no price I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.” {FW 24.2}


When men learn they cannot earn righteousness by their own merit of works, and they look with firm and entire reliance upon Jesus Christ as their only hope, there will not be so much of self and so little of Jesus. Souls and bodies are defiled and polluted by sin, the heart is estranged from God, yet many are struggling in their own finite strength to win salvation by good works. Jesus, they think, will do some of the saving; they must do the rest. They need to see by faith the righteousness of Christ as their only hope for time and for eternity. {FW 25.3}

The cross of Calvary is a pledge to us of everlasting life. {EV 186.3}


We stand in favor before God, not because of any merit in ourselves, but because of our faith in "the Lord our righteousness" {ST 2:497} 
Penances, mortifications of the flesh, constant confession of sin, without sincere repentance; fasts, festivals, and outward observances, unaccompanied by true devotion—all these are of no value whatever. The sacrifice of Christ is sufficient; He made a whole, efficacious offering to God; and human effort without the merit of Christ, is worthless.... {EV 192.1}
You will meet with those who will say, “You are too much excited over this matter. You are too much in earnest. You should not be reaching for the righteousness of Christ, and making so much of that. You should preach the law.” As a people, we have preached the law until we are as dry as the hills of Gilboa that had neither dew nor rain. We must preach Christ in the law, and there will be sap and nourishment in the preaching that will be as food to the famishing flock of God. We must not trust in our own merits at all, but in the merits of Jesus of Nazareth. {1888M 560.5}


Perfection through our own good works we can never attain. The soul who sees Jesus by faith, repudiates his own righteousness. He sees himself as incomplete, his repentance insufficient, his strongest faith but feebleness, his most costly sacrifice as meager, and he sinks in humility at the foot of the cross. But a voice speaks to him from the oracles of God's word. In amazement he hears the message, "Ye are complete in him." Now all is at rest in the soul. No longer must he strive to find some worthiness in himself, some meritorious deed by which to gain the favor of God {ST, 2:497; 7/04/92}. 


Conclusion


One thing is clear. SDA soteriology is not some weird SDA invention. It is an Armenian-Wesleyan understanding of the good news of Jesus Christ. With this understanding in mind how is it possible that the SDA church could have ever become so legalistic? Once again, the message of the church has always been grace but somehow the people lost sight of that precious truth. Many factors can be blamed for this and it would take an entire book to trace the history of our errors as a denomination so I won’t do it here (though I do plan on writing an exhaustive book on the history of grace in the SDA church from its start until the current time). May it suffice to say that the SDA church is not perfect, we – like all Protestant churches – have much in our history to be ashamed of. However, Gods message of grace and salvation has made it through the fire and is now being proclaimed within Adventism with renewed enthusiasm. For those within the SDA church who understand the gospel and are often burdened with the legalism that still lurks our church corridors I make an appeal. Don’t walk away. The church is on solid ground and we need men and women like you to restore to so many Adventists what has been lost through error, deception, and false teachers. It’s easy to run away. But don’t do it. Stay in the boat and help us get rid of the filth. I have committed my life to doing so but I can’t do it alone. With Gods grace, the cross will reclaim its original place at the center of the lives of many Seventh-day Adventists who have been led astray and is in fact already so close.
Was Ellen White Against Contemporary Christian Music?
photo credit: Roger Smith via photopin cc



Did Ellen White denounce the use of drums and other musical instruments in the Indiana holy flesh experience? Did she mean that musical instruments were not to be played in worship services or was she only opposed to certain instruments?.... Was Ellen White speaking against the type of music played and sung in many Adventist churches in recent years, music that has a beat, that involves drums, that has people standing, lifting their arms in praise? Should drums be banned from Adventist worship services, at least drums that some associate more with the night club than the concert hall?  Read more.


Further Reading:

Joyful Noise - A Sensible Look at Christian Music, by Ed Christian.

The Christian & Rock Music: A Review Essay
Music for Contemporary Christians: What, Where, and When?
"How Adventists are Blessed by Other Christians"



Below is a guest post written by Seventh-day Adventist pastor, Martin Weber. His website www.sdaforme.com (where this blog is published) is an excellent resource of SDA apologetic's. I think Weber hits the nail on the head on this one. I hope you are as blessed as I was!
________

Christmas season draws together brothers and sisters in Christ from all denominations to celebrate our common faith. Despite doctrinal differences, believers around the world unite in appreciation for the gift of our Savior. However, some Christians feel duty-bound to abstain from such inclusive fellowship. They imagine that interfaith interaction betrays their own biblical distinctiveness. I regret that more than a few of my fellow Seventh-day Adventists fall into that exclusivist mindset.

Invariably they quote Ellen G. White in holding themselves aloof from fellowship with the larger Christian community. It’s true that Ellen White initially was a separatist who shared the “shut door” mentality of ex-Millerite Sabbatarians. But as she matured in her theology over the years, she extended herself into connectivity with the wider Christian community. (This is an aspect of her ministry strangely overlooked by most of her fervent followers.) 

For example, in the 1880s Ellen White joined forces with the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, a group of Protestant prohibitionists. She spoke at their rallies and even recommended that some of our best Adventist talent should work for that organization.

In 1892, she braved much criticism from narrow-minded Adventist brethren when she entrusted her signature book,Steps to Christ, to non-Seventh-day Adventists for initial publication. Few today are aware that she contracted with Dwight Moody’s brother-in-law, Fleming Revel, to print that treasured book. 

Even her controversial “borrowing” from non-Adventist authors, in writing her later books, is a form of collaboration with Christians outside our denomination. The enemies of Ellen White allege plagiarism, while her friends point out that copyright standards back then were much more relaxed than they are today. Lost amid this arguing is the undeniable reality that Ellen White thought so highly of non-Adventist theologians and historians that she incorporated their insights—not just their language—into her own books. This amazing fact is highly instructive for Adventists today who wish to quarantine themselves from Christians outside our denomination.

Many of my exclusivist Adventist friends want Sabbath worship services to include only songs from the official SDA Hymnal, to preserve denominational distinctiveness. I’m wondering . . . do they realize how many songs in the SDA Hymnal were composed by non-Adventists (including contemporaries of our good brother Dwight Moody—the most popular Sunday-keeping preacher in Ellen White’s day)? Think of it! Every time we hold Sabbath services, we are effectively welcoming non-Adventist influences into our worship. 
Like it or not, we are one body in Christ with fellow believers of the larger faith community. Thus I’m dismayed and ashamed that some influential Adventists are restricting fellow Christians from speaking at our youth rallies, women’s groups and other church meetings. No matter how sincere their concerns, I believe they are guilty of the inconsistencies already cited here regarding worship music and the example of Ellen White. Moreover, I fear they are quenching God’s Spirit, who operates throughout the general body of Christ. They also limit the sovereignty of God, who exercises His right to anoint anyone He chooses for ministry, whether or not he (or she) carries Seventh-day Adventist credentials. And so God is blessing the songs, sermons and books of many Christians outside our Adventist community.
Some may wonder: “Well then, if God is working everywhere, why should I be a Seventh-day Adventist?” Because this is the only denomination on earth where we don’t have to sacrifice biblical convictions that are dear to us. All Seventh-day Adventist doctrines—when (and only when) they are interpreted properly—are special truths about Jesus for these last days. 
That said, I affirm again that God is alive and well throughout the general Christian community. Despite the exclusive mentality of some Adventists, there is much benefit to keeping our minds and hearts open to the ministry of faithful people outside our community. Just as Ellen White was enriched by fellow Christians (Sunday-keepers!), Adventists today may be likewise blessed.
Speaking personally, the folks at Logos Bible Software are dear to me and friendly to Adventists (they recently published the digitized version of Andrews Study Bible). My friend Pete Heineger at Logos told me that he attended a meeting at Saddleback Community Church where Rick Warren affirmed all the good Seventh-day Adventists are doing in Africa through medical missionary work. Warren’s books Purpose Driven Life and Purpose Driven Church have been a major blessing to me. So have books by other non-Adventists such as Phillip Yancey and Lee Strobel (The Case for a Creator, etc.). Every evening while driving home from work, I listen to Chip Ingram’s “Living On the Edge” broadcast—nobody explains Christian living to me better than he does. I get his podcasts on my iPhone along with “Just Thinking” from Ravi Zacharias, perhaps Christianity’s finest advocate against atheism and secularism. Although I can’t agree with everything I hear from these esteemed fellow believers, neither do we Adventists see everything alike.
If you remain unconvinced that fellow Christians have anything good to offer Seventh-day Adventists, I’ll let you borrow my scissors so you can get to work on the official SDA Hymnal.[1] And while you’re clipping away, maybe you can explain why Ellen White collaborated with non-Seventh-day Adventists whose descendants some of us feel we must shun.
- Martin Weber, How Adventists are Blessed by Other Christians. www.sdaforme.com

_____
[1] The SDA Hymnal contains songs written by both pre-reformation (Catholic) and post-reformation (Protestant) believers most of whom held theological views that are antithetical to SDA doctrines. (Footnote supplied by Marcos Torres, www.Jesusadventismandi.com)
Ellen G. White on Legalism
photo credit: Daniel*1977 via photopin cc
Having grown up Christian and walked by the borders of legalism for too long, the issue of salvation, grace, and assurance are among my favorite topics to discuss. For those of you who don't know, legalism is the belief that you can earn salvation by how good you are. The problem is, you never feel you are good enough. This teaching is in direct opposition to what the Bible teaches about salvation  - that it is a free gift given by God and cannot be earned by human performance. Though many Christians would never say they are legalistic many live the lifestyle of a legalist. This lifestyle is characterized by rigid moralism, strict and often nonsensical rules, and a lack of joy and assurance in ones Christian experience. The following are some quotes by Ellen G. White, one of the founders of Adventism, on the topic of legalism. Though many have accused her of being legalistic, these quotes help to see what she really thought about the concept of performance based religion. I hope they bless you as much as they blessed me. 

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Eph 2:8-9)
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (2Ti 1:9)
Our Own Works Can Never Purchase Salvation: A legal religion can never lead souls to Christ; for it is a loveless, Christless religion. Fasting or prayer that is actuated by a self-justifying spirit is an abomination in the sight of God. The solemn assembly for worship, the round of religious ceremonies, the external humiliation, the imposing sacrifice, proclaim that the doer of these things regards himself as righteous, and as entitled to heaven; but it is all a deception. Our own works can never purchase salvation.  {DA 280.2}

There Is No Safety For One Who Has Merely A Legal Religion: The fountain of the heart must be purified before the streams can become pure. He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility. There is no safety for one who has merely a legal religion, a form of godliness. The Christian's life is not a modification or improvement of the old, but a transformation of nature. There is a death to self and sin, and a new life altogether. This change can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit.  {DA 172.1} 

The One Great Offering… Has Been Made: A legal religion has been thought quite the correct religion for this time. But it is a mistake. The rebuke of Christ to the Pharisees is applicable to those who have lost from the heart their first love. A cold, legal religion can never lead souls to Christ; for it is a loveless, Christless religion… Works will not buy for us an entrance into heaven. The one great Offering that has been made is ample for all who will believe. The love of Christ will animate the believer with new life. {1SM 388.1}

Christ, Our Only Hope: The spirit of bondage is engendered by seeking to live in accordance with legal religion, through striving to fulfill the claims of the law in our own strength. There is hope for us only as we come under the Abrahamic covenant, which is the covenant of grace by faith in Christ Jesus. The gospel preached to Abraham, through which he had hope, was the same gospel that is preached to us today, through which we have hope. Abraham looked unto Jesus, who is also the Author and the Finisher of our faith (YI Sept. 22, 1892).  {6BC 1077.7} 

Firm as a Rock: Legal religion will not answer for this age. We may perform all the outward acts of service and yet be as destitute of the quickening influence of the Holy Spirit as the hills of Gilboa were destitute of dew and rain. We all need spiritual moisture, and we need also the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness to soften and subdue our hearts. We are always to be as firm as a rock to principle. Bible principles are to be taught and then backed up by holy practice.  {6T 417.3} 

Dear Brother M: Brother M, you have not taken a judicious course with your family. Your children do not love you. They have more hatred than love. Your wife does not love you. You do not take a course to be loved. You are an extremist. You are severe, exacting, arbitrary, to your children. You talk the truth to them, but do not carry its principles into your everyday life. You are not patient, forbearing, and forgiving. You have so long indulged your own spirit, you are so ready to fly into a passion if provoked, that it looks exceedingly doubtful whether you will make efforts sufficient to meet the mind of Christ. You do not possess the power of endurance, forbearance, gentleness, and love. These Christian graces must be possessed by you before you can be truly a Christian. You cannot in your own strength put away your errors and wrongs; they have been increasing upon you for years, because you have not seen them in their hideousness and in the strength of God resolutely put them away. By living faith you must lay hold on an arm that is mighty to save. Humble your poor, proud, self-righteous heart before God; get low, very low, all broken in your sinfulness at His feet. Devote yourself to the work of preparation. Rest not until you can truly say: My Redeemer liveth, and, because He lives, I shall live also. {2T 88.1}

If you would gather together everything that is good: If you would gather together everything that is good and holy and noble and lovely in man and then present the subject to the angels of God as acting a part in the salvation of the human soul or in merit, the proposition would be rejected as treason.{FW 24.1}

Christ for our sakes became poor: Christ for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich. And any works that man can render to God will be far less than nothingness. My requests are made acceptable only because they are laid upon Christ’s righteousness. The idea of doing anything to merit the grace of pardon is fallacy from beginning to end. “Lord, in my hand no price I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.” {FW 24.2}

When men learn they cannot earn righteousness:  When men learn they cannot earn righteousness by their own merit of works, and they look with firm and entire reliance upon Jesus Christ as their only hope, there will not be so much of self and so little of Jesus. Souls and bodies are defiled and polluted by sin, the heart is estranged from God, yet many are struggling in their own finite strength to win salvation by good works. Jesus, they think, will do some of the saving; they must do the rest. They need to see by faith the righteousness of Christ as their only hope for time and for eternity. {FW 25.3}





Sources

Ellen White (CD Rom)

egwdatabase.whiteestate.org
The Pre-Advent Judgment 14: Conclusion on the Investigative Judment


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 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?”[1] “That’s investigative judgment.”[2]

Further Reading: 

Various Articles on the Investigative Judgment

Various Articles on the Gospel from an SDA Perspective





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


Bibliography



Anderson, John T. Investigating the Judgment: A Revolutionary Look At God’s Total Fairness And Relentless Effort To Save Us. Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 2003.

Arnold, Bill T. and Brian E. Beyer. Encountering the Old Testament: A Christian Survey, 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Baker Academic, 2008.

Bear, James E. “Bible and Modern Religions, Part 1 :The Seventh-Day Adventists,” ATLA Religion Database [1956]: [accessed April 1, 2012].

Beem, Teresa and Arthur Beem. It’s 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.

Davidson, Jo Ann. Principal Contributor. Glimpses Of Our God: Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide. Nampa: Pacific Press, 2012.

Doukhan, Jacques B. Secrets of Daniel: Wisdom and Dreams of a Jewish Prince in Exile. Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 2000.

Goldstein, Clifford. 1844 Made Simple. Boise: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1988.

—. False Balances. Boise: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1992.

Graham, Billy. The Holy Spirit: Activating God’s Power in Your Life. W Publishing Group, 1988.

Hardinge, Leslie. With Jesus in His Sanctuary: A Walk Through the Tabernacle Along His Way. Harrisburg: American Cassette Ministries, 1991.

Knight, George R. I Used To Be Perfect: A Study of Sin and Salvation. Berrien Springs: Andrews University Press, 2001.

—. The Apocalyptic Vision and the Neutering of Adventism: Are We Erasing Our Relevancy? Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 2008.

Lake, Jud. e-mail to author, January 31, 2012.

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

Pfandl, Gerhard. Daniel: The Seer of Babylon. Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 2004.

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.

Shuler, John L. The Great Judgment Day: In the Light of the Sanctuary Service. Washington: Review and Herald, 1923.

Treiyer, Alberto R. The Day of Atonement and the Heavenly Judgment: From the Pentateuch to Revelation. Siloam Springs: Creation Enterprises International, 1992.

Weber, Martin. “Never Before Published Desmond Ford Dialogues About the 1844 Judgment, Ford And Weber Dialogue, Section II: Ford’s Critique Of Weber.” Scribd. http://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/17458843 [accessed Feb 1 and Mar 31, 2012].

—. “Pre-Advent Judgment.” SDA For Me. http://www.sdaforme.com/issues/judgement/judgment.html [accessed January 31, 2012].

—. “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].

—. More Adventist Hot Potatoes. Boise: Pacific Press, 1992.

White, Ellen G. Christ Object Lessons. EGW Writings. https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012].

—. Early Writings. EGW Writings. https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012].

—. Our High Calling. EGW Writings. https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012].

—. Selected Messages, book 1.  EGW Writings. https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012].

—. Selected Messages, book 2,  EGW Writings. https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012].

—. Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5. EGW Writings. https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012].


—. The Great Controversy. EGW Writings. https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012].
The Pre-Advent Judgment 9: What Does it Mean to be Judged?


Nonetheless, doesn’t the very concept of being judged imply that God is looking for something wrong by which to accuse us? The Bible’s 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.”[1] God on the other hand, is shown throughout the Bible to be the savior, not the accuser.[2] 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.[3]
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.”[4]


Further Reading: 

Facing Life's Record (An Analysis of the Great Controversy's Scariest Chapter)

The Pre-Advent Judgment 6: The IJ and Assurance of Salvation


[1] Rev. 12:10.
[2] John 3:16-17.
[3] Martin Weber, More Adventist Hot Potatoes [Boise: Pacific Press, 1992], 81.
[4] George R. Knight, I Used To Be Perfect: A Study of Sin and Salvation [Berrien Springs: Andrews University Press, 2001], 54.
The Pre-Advent Judgment 8: 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.”[1] 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 us—the perfection of His character? When the Lord’s people reach this mark, they will be sealed in their foreheads.”[2] 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 Father’s 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.”[3] 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 and are protected in the time of trouble must reflect the image of Jesus fully.”[4] 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.”[5] 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.”[6] 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.’”[7] 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.”[8] Later on He said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”[9] The apostle James writes, “Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?”[10] 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.”[11] 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.”[12] 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 sinner’s account.”[13] 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 Christ’s 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 effectual plea in our behalf. He is able to silence the accuser with arguments founded not upon our merits, but on His own.”[14]






[1] Ellen G White, Christ Object Lessons, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 69.
[2] ibid., Our High Calling, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 150.
[3] ibid., The Great Controversy, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 623.
[4] ibid., Early Writings, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 71.
[5] Teresa and Arthur Beem. It’s 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.
[6] Ellen G White, The Great Controversy, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 489.
[7] Matt. 19:16, 21.
[8] Matt. 5:29.
[9] Matt. 5:48.
[10] Jam. 2:21.
[11] Rev. 22:14.
[12] Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 2,  EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 32.
[13] ibid., Selected Messages, book 1,  EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 32
[14] Ellen G White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012], 472.
The Pre-Advent Judgment 7: 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].”[1] However, although sola scriptura is the official Adventist position, not all Adventist’s 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.”[2] 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 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.”[3]




[1] Jud Lake, e-mail to author, January 31, 2012.
[2] Clifford Goldstein, 1844 Made Simple [Boise: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1988], 7.
[3] Marvin Moore, The Case For The Investigative Judgment: Its Biblical Foundation [Nampa: Pacific Press, 2010], 317.