Posts tagged Good News
A Night with the Counterfeits

 Some time ago I wrote a blog titled "Do You Qualify For Salvation?" In the past few months I have taken that singular blog post and expanded it for a series at presented by the same title. Because the expansion proved to be a real joy and blessing for me as I wrote it, and also for others who read it, I have decided to share it here. However, because I already have a blog titled "Do You Qualify for Salvation?" I will give each of these posts a different title. Below is the first one titled, "A Night with the Counterfeits". For some, this series may be nothing more than a repetition of what you have read on this blog for the last few years. For others it may be a breath of fresh air. Whatever your experience, I pray you are blessed.

A Night with the Counterfeits. 

There is a true story told of an Indian missionary. The young man was in India during a great festival in which all of the Hindus travel to the river Ganges to wash themselves for the forgiveness of sins. Thousands of Hindus traveled for miles to wash themselves in this river. The story goes that this missionary was crossing a bridge over the river when he saw a woman weeping uncontrollably. He approached her to see what was wrong.

She told him that her husband was unable to work. They had no money to provide for the family. She told him that her sins were so many that no one knew about. She was burdened with guilt and shame. She needed forgiveness and blessings. In order to receive the blessing and forgiveness of the goddess Ganges, she said, “I have given her the most valuable offering I could give her. My six month old baby boy. I just threw him into the river.” The missionary proceeded to explain the gospel to her. To tell her that she didn’t have to kill her son. God had sent his son in order to save mankind. When he was done the woman looked at him. “Why didn’t you come a half hour sooner?” She asked. “I didn’t have to kill my son.” And with that she began weeping again. She’s not the only one you know. There are thousands. Millions are crying out “why?” Longing and searching for an answer to the void in their heart. Looking for forgiveness and salvation. Their religion tells them that salvation can only be gained by working hard to earn Gods favor. Their religion tells them that they have to climb, struggle, work, sweat, bleed, and suffer in order to enter the Kingdom. But the Bible says something else. In Ephesians 2:8-9 it says,

“For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved. You receive it through faith. It was not our plan or our effort. It is God’s gift, pure and simple. You didn’t earn it, not one of us did, so don’t go around bragging that you must have done something amazing.”[i]

The Bible teaches that it’s not what we do that saves us, but what God has done. In other words, this whole salvation thing is never about what we do; it’s about what He did. But what exactly does that mean? Before I explain it, I want to back track a bit. The book of Ephesians, which I just quoted, reveals God’s mysterious purpose for what we call “church.” Now, what does church have to do with salvation? Well, lets find out. Paul, the author of the book, paints a picture of a secret weapon that God had planned from the beginning of time in order to defeat evil. That secret weapon is the church. Why church? I mean. Isn’t church boring? Irrelevant? Hasn’t the church caused more evil than good in history? How could this be God’s secret weapon to defeat evil? That answer is found in Ephesians 1:22-23. Here Paul says,

“God has placed all things beneath His [Jesus'] feet and anointed Him as the head over all things for His church. This church is His body, the fullness of the One who fills all in all.”

According to this verse, Christ is the head of the church which is his body. However, there is something powerful here. The Greek word for church is “ekklesia” which means congregation or assembly. According to the Bible “church” is not a building, it’s a community of people. So God’s secret weapon to defeat evil is a community of people. But what kind of people? Ephesians 2:1-2 answers that question. It says,

“As for you, don’t you remember how you used to just exist? Corpses, dead in life, buried by transgressions, wandering the course of this perverse world. You were the offspring of the prince of the power of air—oh, how he owned you, just as he still controls those living in disobedience.

Did you catch it? God’s secret anti-evil weapon from the beginning of time was a community of people. But not good people. Bad people! People who were rebellious, wicked, and selfish. People who were slaves to sin. God’s mystery of the church is that He was going to get these “evil people” and use them to defeat evil. However, in order for God to do this He would have to get these people to be on His side. But how? The answer is found in the story the Bible tells about salvation.

Now of course, there are many different versions of this story floating around. Even though the Bible only tells one salvation story, this story has been retold in countless ways. However, we can boil down all of those countless versions into four. 1) The most common is that you are saved by works. This means you have to be good and if you are good enough you are allowed into heaven. This is the version that forms the foundation of paganism. I call it the “performance” version of salvation. 2) The second is that you are saved by grace, but in order to stay saved you have to work. In other words, Jesus covers your past sins but your future is uncertain. You are saved, but not really. There is still something you have to do in order to earn the right to stay saved and enter heaven at last. This is the foundation of religions such as Catholicism and Mormonism. I call this the “but” version of salvation (you will soon see why). 3) The third is that salvation is a ticket to heaven and nothing more. No change takes place in the life. But because you once believed you now have a ticket that guarantees you access into eternal bliss. This is the foundation for some (though certainly not all) evangelical churches and is often referred to as “once saved, always saved”.[ii] I call it the “ticket” version of salvation. Being raised Adventist, I was too smart to fall for the “performance” version (most Christians are). However, that didn’t make me immune to being duped by “but” and “ticket” versions. For many years I viewed the salvation story though those two lenses. The “ticket” was useless. While I didn’t have any anxiety over my eternal security, I had no victory over sin. Since I knew I was going to heaven, I had no rush to find victory. But I was depressed, always feeling defeated and filthy, and eventually my sin caught up with me and the consequences were extremely painful. If only Jesus had set me free from sin I wouldn’t have had to go through those dark nights of shame and guilt that nearly choked out my life. But Jesus wasn’t the problem. The problem was I had come to view Him, not as a savior, but as a ticket and tickets have no power.

From there I fell into the “but” version of the salvation story. This is the version that teaches that Jesus forgives and saves but in order to stay saved you have to perform at a certain level or else you are out.  This version was instrumental in showing me that victory over sin was possible, but as time went on I found this to be nothing more than a baptized version of the “performance” model. Even though I was saved by grace I always felt I hadn’t done enough to stay saved and that I had to do more. I had to be a vegetarian or else I would lose my salvation. I had to keep the Sabbath perfectly and be nice to people and do everything right or else I would lose the free gift of salvation. And I was miserable. I call this the “but” version of salvation. Why? Because anytime someone spoke about the grace of Christ, I always felt the need to add “but” at the end of their conversation. “We are saved by grace!” They would shout. “But!” I would shout back, “don’t forget you still have to do A, B and C!” For some reason I couldn’t just enjoy the grace of God for what it was. Instead, I always had to add the “but” at the end just to make sure everyone knew what the requirements were. During this time I knew some of rest that is to be found in Jesus, but there was always a voice in the back of my mind that prevented me from having full assurance. I experienced spiritual growth and victory over sins that had long controlled my life, but something was missing.  However, I refused to admit there was a problem with my salvation story because in my mind, the only alternative was the “ticket” version and I sure wasn’t going back to that.

4) Eventually, the “but” version of salvation led me to the fourth version of the gospel. It is a subcategory of “but” known as the “light switch” version of the gospel. The light switch version nearly killed me. This version (which was nothing more than the logical result of the “but” version) teaches that a person is justified freely by Gods grace but must, from then on, continue to perform well enough to keep their salvation. That’s pretty much what the “but” version is, only in the “light switch” version every time you sin you lose your salvation until you confess and repent and then you are saved again. It’s as if God is in heaven flipping a “light switch.” Every time you sin, the light switch goes off (you have lost your salvation), and every time you confess and repent the light switch goes back on (you are saved again). When I believed in “light switch” I was always worried about whether I had sinned or not and often times found myself debating myself over whether or not I had just sinned, almost just sinned, or thought I just sinned but hadn’t really. The situation was worse when I felt that God wouldn’t forgive me for a sin I committed if it involved another person. I would suffer for weeks and months over a supposed sin that I needed to confess to someone else and at times found myself confessing things that were not only unnecessary but ridiculous. But I did it anyways because I wanted to make sure that God wouldn’t have any reason to not let me into heaven. I was daily and hourly tortured by my conscience and became so hypersensitive that I eventually found myself at a counselors office diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. God was my enemy desperately trying to keep me out of heaven. And I was responsible for changing his mind, but no matter how hard I tried one plaguing accusation remained: “Never good enough.”

Negative as this experience may have been I do thank God for it because if it weren’t for my hopelessness and despair I would never have turned to him for answers. I would never have studied and researched and explored. I would never have asked those deep, gut wrenching questions that many people never think to ask. My defeat paved the way for my victory and though I have much to learn I eventually discovered that none of those previous versions were the true salvation story. When I did in fact discover the Biblical story of salvation my entire soul was enraptured with a joy and conviction I have never before experienced. I was free! The 4 versions were false, but there was a fifth. In fact, I wouldn’t even call it the fifth. Instead, I prefer to call it the only. The true. The genuine. All the others were counterfeits, but I had finally discovered the beauty of the gospel and the overwhelming joy it brings.

But more on that next time.

[i] All Bible verses quoted from The Voice.

[ii] Contrary to what I believed growing up “once saved always saved” is not a universally accepted teaching in the evangelical world. Adventists are in the company of Lutherans, Methodists, Pentecostals, Free-Will Baptists (also Pentecostal) and others in denying this teaching. Most Protestants who embrace the theology of Martin Luther, Jacobus Arminius, or John Wesley are likely to also reject the concept of “once saved always saved”.
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}. 


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.
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.


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. [accessed Feb 1 and Mar 31, 2012].

—. “Pre-Advent Judgment.” SDA For Me. [accessed January 31, 2012].

—. “What's the bottom line relevance of the judgment in my life for Christ today?” SDA for Me. [accessed March 29, 2012].

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

White, Ellen G. Christ Object Lessons. EGW Writings. [accessed Apr. 1, 2012].

—. Early Writings. EGW Writings. [accessed Apr. 1, 2012].

—. Our High Calling. EGW Writings. [accessed Apr. 1, 2012].

—. Selected Messages, book 1.  EGW Writings. [accessed Apr. 1, 2012].

—. Selected Messages, book 2,  EGW Writings. [accessed Apr. 1, 2012].

—. Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5. EGW Writings. [accessed Apr. 1, 2012].

—. The Great Controversy. EGW Writings. [accessed Apr. 1, 2012].
The Pre-Advent Judgment 12: Benefit for Man

The benefit of the pre-Advent judgment is not just for the angels but for man also. “The primary purpose of the investigative pre-Advent judgment is the final confirmation of salvation and vindication of God’s people.”[1] During the judgment, God shows the angels that those of us who have truly accepted Christ are “worthy” of salvation, not because of anything we have done, but because of what Christ has done in our place. The judgment then, calls each of us to “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?”[2] What exactly does this mean? Does it mean that we should spend all of our days anxiously worrying about whether or not we truly have accepted Christ?

No, for that goes contrary to righteousness by faith. What this does is it simply invites us to honestly access whether or not we are hypocrites claiming Christ as savior. I once met a young man who did drugs and slept with different women all the time, yet according to him he was “saved” and therefore he didn’t worry about his eternal destiny. The judgment is a benefit for those with such a mindset because it shows us that only those who have accepted Christ as savior and Lord will be counted worthy. This young man was under a delusion of hope but the judgment breaks that delusion because it calls us to ask the question, Have I truly accepted Christ? Even today I still meet Adventists who are legalists and live as though their many good deeds can save them. Some think they are “worthy” because they are vegans, or because of their dress reform, or some other work, however, the investigative judgment destroys that delusion of false security by showing us that all of our righteousness is as filthy rags.[3] The pre-advent judgment then reminds us that we are to come to the cross with the deepest and most complete dependence upon the merits of Christ and Christ alone. One benefit of the judgment then is that it presents the cross before us in such power that it protects us from licentiousness and legalism at the same time.

Further Reading: The Urgent Implications of the Pre-Advent Judgment

[1] ibid.
[2] 2 Cor. 13:5.
[3] Isa. 64:6.
The Pre-Advent Judgment 11: Benefit for the Angels

Seventh-day Adventist’s believe in what they call the Great Controversy. The Great Controversy is the panoramic view that scripture gives of the battle between Christ and Satan. The Great Controversy points out that before there was sin, heaven was in perfect harmony. This was the state of things until Lucifer rebelled.[1] The rebellion of Lucifer centered on the character of God.[2] Lucifer accused God of being unjust, unfair, and that His law was arbitrary.[3] Lucifer was then cast out of heaven and came to the earth where he continued His rebellion.[4] We notice this in Satan’s temptation of Eve which was based on questioning the character of God. 

From there, Satan deceived Eve and both she and Adam sinned. The result of their sin is the sinful world that we now live in. Today, many people ask the question, Why didn’t God just kill the devil when he first rebelled? The Great Controversy has the answer. Had God killed the devil, what would all of the other angels have thought? Scripture shows that Satan’s campaign against God was so deceptive that he took one third of the angels of heaven with him.[5] Had God simply killed Satan the other angels would have thought that God was trying to silence him and that perhaps Satan was on to something. Therefore, it was necessary for God to allow Satan to reveal to the angels who he truly was so that all of the angels could see that God was, is, and will forever be trustworthy. This revelation was fulfilled at the cross when every angel of God saw the self-sacrificing love of God come face to face with the self-centered malice of Satan. However, the battle is not over. Satan is “the accuser” and he accuses God’s people of being “unworthy” of salvation.[6] Even though God “knows them that are his”[7] the angels don’t. 

Therefore, the pre-Advent judgment is an opportunity for heavens angels to examine Gods decisions versus Satan’s accusations and see for themselves that God’s decisions are right and that Satan’s accusations are without foundation. “Heaven's pre-advent judgment does not investigate whether we are good enough but whether we have accepted our position in Christ's new humanity. God does not question our salvation but displays and defends it against the accusations of the devil. Therefore the judgment for believers is not a threat but a favor.”[8] In this way, the judgment is a benefit for the angels not for God. “When the unfallen beings in the universe examine the records of the saints during the pre-Advent judgment, they will conclude that God has indeed been just and merciful in each case. In this way the character of God, which has been at the center of the great controversy between Christ and Satan, will be exonerated.”[9] 

The official position of the Seventh-day Adventist church with regard to the pre-Advent judgment says, “The investigative judgment reveals to heavenly intelligences who among the dead are asleep in Christ and therefore, in Him, are deemed worthy to have part in the first resurrection.”[10]

Further Reading: Why Does God Need to "Investigate?"

[1] Isa. 14:12., Eze. 28:12-19.
[2] Gen. 3:1-5., Job 4:12-18.
[3] Job 1:6-11.
[4] Luke 10:18., Rev. 12:9.
[5] Rev. 12:4.
[6] Rev. 12:10., Zec. 3:1-4
[7] 2 Tim. 2:19.
[8] Martin Weber, “What's the bottom line relevance of the judgment in my life for Christ today?” SDA for Me, [accessed March 29, 2012].
[9] Gerhard Pfandl, Daniel: The Seer of Babylon [Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 2004], 73.
[10] Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual, 17th ed., 18; emphasis added. quoted in Marvin Moore, The Case for the Investigative Judgment, Its Biblical Foundation, [Nampa: Pacific Press, 2010], 44. Note: The term “worthy” refers to Christ’s righteousness, never our own.
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 6: The IJ and Assurance of Salvation

The pre-Advent judgment is biblical. That much is clearly seen. However, one of the greatest attacks against the pre-Advent judgment doctrine is that anyone who believes it cannot have assurance of salvation. Marvin Moore once met a man who told him that, “…with a doctrine like that, no one can ever have assurance of salvation.”[1] The reason for this is that the pre-Advent judgment teaches that in 1844 Jesus began the work of investigating and judging both the saved and the lost. Therefore, many have come to teach and believe that unless you are living a perfect life by the time your name comes up in the judgment you will be eternally lost. Thus, former Adventist’s Teresa and Arthur Beem can say, “In the investigative judgment you will not be judged by your belief in Christ but by how well you kept the Ten Commandments.”[2]

Such a teaching is damaging to the Christian faith because it completely undermines the doctrine of righteousness by faith in Christ alone. Growing up, my wife was taught that she did not know when her name would come up in the judgment. If it did and she was found not “worthy” of eternal life because she was sinning at the moment (or some other reason), then she would be lost forever and not know it. She could continue to strive to follow Jesus for the rest of her life, but this would be in vain since she was already lost. Clifford Goldstein’s wife was taught a similar version of the pre-Advent judgment. Goldstein writes:
My wife [was taught]… ‘that the judgment is going on in heaven right now, and that our names may come up at any time. We can’t know when that happens, but when it does, our names are blotted out of the book of life if we are not absolutely perfect. We are lost. We won’t know it, and we may keep on struggling to be perfect, even though probation has closed for us and we have no hope.’ Cliff went on to say, ‘Such a teaching is not good news…[3]
Not only is such a teaching “not good news” it is also a vile distortion of what the investigative judgment is all about. Jud Lake, professor of theology at Southern Adventist University reminds us that according to Daniel 7, “The judgment was rendered ‘in favor’ of the saints. Jesus is our advocate and in the judgment [sic] we are acquitted [sic] because of His merits, not our own.”[4] Unfortunately, as George Knight pointed out in his book, The Apocalyptic Vision and the Neutering of Adventism, “The tragedy of Adventism is that we made the pre-Advent judgment a fearful thing…. Spiritual insecurity and lack of biblical assurance was the result. ‘God is out to get you’ was the message…”[5] However, Knight goes on to establish that, “[t]he purpose of the judgment in the Bible is not to keep people out of heaven, but to get as many in as possible.”[6] Therefore, the accusation that the pre-Advent judgment is inherently legalistic and that it is impossible to have assurance of salvation and believe in the investigative judgment simultaneously is true but only part way. The accusation is true if one believes the distortions of the investigative judgment. But if one bases the investigative judgment on the Bible then the accusation no longer stands. Scripture is clear that, “by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”[7] Paul warns “You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.”[8] Therefore, to interpret the pre-Advent judgment to mean that believers must be absolutely “perfect” at every moment or else they are at risk of losing their salvation goes contrary to the truth that “all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”[9] Once again, Moore offers a helpful insight when he writes, “…the judgment depends on whether we’re asleep in Jesus (if we’ve died before the judgment) or abiding in Christ (if we’re still living). It depends on whether we believe in Jesus, not on how well we’ve lived – that is, on our good behavior.”[10]

Adventist authors have emphasized over the years again and again that our standing in the judgment is not based on our works but Christ’s perfect work. Unfortunately many Seventh-day Adventist’s have had their faith damaged by the errors of their parents, teachers, and spiritual leaders who have taken a legalistic stance on the judgment. Leslie Hardinge, author of With Jesus In His Sanctuary tells us that “[i]n preparing for the judgment the important thing is not to think of what we have done wrong, or anything we might contribute, but on Whom we know.”[11] And in his little book The Great Judgment Day Adventist author John L. Shuler writes: “Our only hope in the judgment is to be hid in Christ (Col. 3: 3), clothed with His righteousness. His life alone will meet the requirements of the law by which we shall be judged…. Thus through the work of Christ in our hearts… we shall be accounted worthy in the judgment….”[12] Shuler goes on to say that “[i]f we are abiding in Jesus Christ, it is our privilege to face the judgment with perfect confidence.”[13] This is good news for many Adventists who have misunderstood the pre-Advent judgment, however, what a shame that God’s people would for one moment forget such a beautiful truth that “God’s justice was satisfied in Christ, who endured the death penalty instead of the sinner.”[14] Without it, our faith is no different than all of the other world religions that claim to know the path to salvation – a path that is always marked by works. Christ’s perfect atonement must forever be our theme and song, for it is the “power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…”[15] Clifford Goldstein put it well when he wrote, “This is the essence of the gospel, the good news. No matter who we are or what we’ve done, Jesus Christ can forgive everything and allow us to stand in the sight of God as perfect and as accepted by the Father as He was, because He will freely credit to us, as undeserving as we are, His perfect righteousness.”[16]

Just As I Am Without One Plea 
(The Truth About the Investigative Judgment)

Note: While the IJ does not contradict the gospel there are certain teachings that have been embraced by some Adventists that certainly do inspire a legalistic interpretation and application of the IJ. However, such teachings are not orthodox Adventism as the following article demonstrates:
REclaiming Adventism (A Response to the Testimony of former Adventist Eliana Matthews)

[1] Marvin Moore, The Case For The Investigative Judgment: Its Biblical Foundation [Nampa: Pacific Press, 2010], 19.
[2] 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], 114.
[3] Marvin Moore, The Case For The Investigative Judgment: Its Biblical Foundation [Nampa: Pacific Press, 2010], 20.
[4] Jud Lake, e-mail message to author, January 31, 2012.
[5] George R. Knight, The Apocalyptic Vision and the Neutering of Adventism: Are We Erasing Our Relevancy? [Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 2008], 70.
[6] ibid.
[7] Eph. 2:8.
[8] Gal. 5:4.
[9] Rom. 3:24.
[10] Marvin Moore, The Case For The Investigative Judgment: Its Biblical Foundation [Nampa: Pacific Press, 2010], 32.
[11] Leslie Hardinge, With Jesus in His Sanctuary: A Walk Through the Tabernacle Along His Way [Harrisburg: American Cassette Ministries, 1991], 543.
[12] John L Shuler, The Great Judgment Day: In the Light of the Sanctuary Service, [Washington: Review and Herald, 1923], 117. Italics mine.
[13] Ibid., Italics mine.
[14] Alberto R Treiyer, The Day of Atonement and the Heavenly Judgment: From the Pentateuch to Revelation, [Siloam Springs: Creation Enterprises International, 1992], 221.
[15] Rom. 1:16.
[16] Clifford Goldstein, False Balances [Boise: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1992], 147.
The Pre-Advent Judgment 5: The IJ is Not Entirely Unique to Adventism

The third aspect of the pre-Advent judgment I would like to explore is the allegation that it is an attempt “[i]n trying to defend 1844 after the failure of Christ's return.”[1] This critique presupposes that “the Seventh-day Adventist understanding of the pre-Advent investigative judgment… [is a] unique Adventist contribution to biblical theology.”[2] However, “…it is misleading to say that the doctrine of a pre-Advent judgment in Daniel is unique to Seventh-day Adventism.

After all, many others have found a pre-Advent judgment in Daniel 7.”[3] If this is so, then the allegation that the investigative judgment is simply a “new way of explaining the Great Disappointment”[4] is not true. Indeed, Seventh-day Adventists are far from the only ones to ever discover the doctrine of the pre-Advent judgment. Gerhard Pfandl, author of Daniel: The Seer of Babylon identifies several non-Adventist theologians who have taught the pre-Advent judgment. “Lutheran Joseph A. Seiss, for example, wrote: ‘The resurrection, and the changes which pass… upon the living, are themselves the fruits and embodiments of antecedent judgment…. Strictly speaking, men are neither raised nor translated, in order to come to judgment. Resurrections and translations are products of judgment previously passed.”[5] In addition, Pfandl quotes Catholic author F. Dusterwald and Protestant interpreter T. Robinson as having understood the book of Daniel to teach a pre-Advent judgment.

[1] Martin Weber, “Never Before Published Desmond Ford Dialogues About the 1844 Judgment, Ford And Weber Dialogue, Section II: Ford’s Critique Of Weber,” Scribd, [accessed Mar 31, 2012]. Note: The Millerites originally thought that 1844 marked the date for the return of Jesus. After Jesus did not come back many went back to their Bibles to discover what had gone wrong. In the process they discovered that Christ was not meant to return but that he was engaging in the second phase of His ministry in the heavenly sanctuary on that date. Thus, many critics have taken the pre-Advent judgment to be an attempt to “explain away” why Christ did not return.
[2] Gerhard Pfandl, Daniel: The Seer of Babylon [Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 2004], 68.
[3] George R. Knight, The Apocalyptic Vision and the Neutering of Adventism: Are We Erasing Our Relevancy? [Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 2008], 70.
[4] 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], 107.
[5] Gerhard Pfandl, Daniel: The Seer of Babylon [Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 2004], 70.
The Pre-Advent Judgment 4: Did Christ's Ministry End at the Cross?

The second aspect that must be considered is that the pre-Advent judgment teaches that when the judgment began Jesus began a special work in heaven. That special work is the work of “cleansing the sanctuary.” During this time not only the wicked but also the righteous are said to be judged.[1] This judgment then is said to determine the fate of everyone who has ever lived. Opponents of the pre-Advent judgment often critique this doctrine by saying that it teaches that Christ work was not completed on the cross.

“We believe that the Bible teaches that the work of Christ is a finished work—finished on the cross”[2] they say. They then quote Jesus’ words just before His death when He says, “It is finished.”[3] According to this critique, the death of Christ marked the end of Christ’s ministry. Everything was fulfilled at the cross, therefore, how can we say that Christ began another phase of His ministry in 1844? 

While I agree that Christ’s work of salvation was finished at the cross and that nothing more is needed for the salvation of man, several texts can help us see that Christ’s ministry did not, as is often asserted, end at the cross. For starters, Paul tells us that “…if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”[4] Therefore, it was not sufficient that Christ died for us, but He had to be raised again. Had Christ not risen, His work of redemption would have been incomplete and we are “still in [our] sins” and thus, “of all people most to be pitied.”[5] Evangelical Christian evangelist Billy Graham also agrees that Christ’s ministry did not end at the cross. In his book, The Holy Spirit, Graham says, “Quite clearly Jesus did not say that His death on the cross would mark the cessation of His ministry. The night before His death He repeatedly told the disciples that He would send the Holy Spirit.”[6] Christ not only sent us the Holy Spirit, He also “help[s] those who are being tempted” and “rescues the godly from trials.”[7] In addition to all of this, the ministry of Jesus would also be incomplete without the second coming. With this evidence in mind, I suggest that although Christ’s sacrifice is all-sufficient for man’s salvation, it is not unbiblical to teach that His ministry was not completed at the cross.[8]

Further Reading: Did Jesus Complete the Atonement on the Cross?

[1] “For thousands of years, from the times of the tabernacle in the wilderness until today, the Jews celebrated the cleansing of the sanctuary (Yom Kippur) – the Day of Atonement – as the great judgment day.” Clifford Goldstein, 1844 Made Simple [Boise: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1988], 39. Thus, the cleansing of the sanctuary and the judgment are the same event.
[2] James E. Bear, “Bible and Modern Religions, Part 1 :The Seventh-Day Adventists,” ATLA Religion Database [1956]: 11, [accessed April 1, 2012].
[3] John 19:30.
[4] 1 Cor. 15:14.
[5] 1 Cor. 15:17, 19.
[6] Billy Graham, The Holy Spirit: Activating God’s Power in Your Life [W Publishing Group, 1988], 71.
[7] Heb. 2:18., 2 Pet. 2:9.
[8] It is however, unbiblical and heretical to teach that Christ’s sacrifice was not enough and that He needs to “do more” in order to save us. Hebrews is clear “Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.” Heb. 7:27. Italics mine.
The Pre Advent Judgment 3: The Pre-Advent Judgment and 1844

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

Further Reading: Why 1844 is Perfectly Logical

See also

The Pre-Advent Judgment 2: Will There Be a Pre-Advent Judgment?

What exactly is the pre-Advent judgment? To put it simply, the pre-advent judgment (also known as the investigative judgment) teaches that the final judgment will take place before the second coming of Christ. During this judgment the lives of every person, both believers and unbelievers alike, will be investigated. Marvin Moore, author of The Case for the Investigative Judgment put it well when he wrote:
The idea that God will conduct an investigative judgment someday is very biblical. In Ecclesiastes 12:14, Solomon said, ‘God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil’…. Thus, our works, our words, and even our thoughts (the secret things) will be examined in God’s final judgment. That’s investigative judgment.[1]
The Bible itself has much to say on the topic of judgment and without a doubt it should. “Looking around at the world, we shouldn’t have a problem understanding the idea of judgment and condemnation. One doesn’t have to be a believing Christian to realize that something is radically wrong with humanity. Who can’t see what a royal mess, even disaster, we’ve made of things?... Who hasn’t been the victim of just how greedy, selfish, and mean people can be? Or who hasn’t at some point been the greedy, selfish, and mean one?”[2] Victims of crime cry out for justice, families of those who have been murdered do likewise. Judgment seems to be a natural and intimate human desire. With this in mind, judgment becomes “the fulfillment of humanity’s hopes and yearnings”[3] for it is where the wounded find closure and the broken healing. In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon says, “Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.”[4] David wrote in the Psalms, “Let all creation rejoice before the LORD, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness”[5] In the New Testament, Jesus reaffirms the concept of a final judgment when he says, “…I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.”[6] Paul also reiterates the concept of a final judgment when he wrote, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”[7] However, while it is clear that there will be a judgment through these verses, they say nothing about the judgment taking place before the second coming of Jesus. According to these verses the day of judgment can just as easily be on the day of Christ’s return as they could before his return. Desmond Ford, former Adventist minister, writes: “…‘Why must [I] reject the two-phased ministry of Christ and the [pre-Advent] judgment?’ my answer is ‘Because it is nowhere taught in the New Testament or, indeed, in the Old Testament.’”[8] Hence, based on Fords statement and the question posed beforehand, How is it that the Seventh-day Adventist church can be so sure that the judgment is a pre-Advent judgment? Adventist minister Martin Weber has a simple way of explaining it. “When Jesus comes again” Weber says, “He will separate the sheep (His true believers) from the goats (unbelievers and pseudo-disciples). See Matt. 25:31-46. Obviously He will have already decided by that time who are the sheep and who are the goats, so there has to be a pre-Advent judgment.”[9] In addition, Paul’s verse quoted above states that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us.” Thus, according to Paul, when we appear before the judgment seat of Christ, we appear not to be judged but to receive our reward. Therefore, it is implied that the judgment has taken place already. Jesus also said, “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.”[10] Once again, the implication is that a decision has been made as to who will receive life and who will not, therefore, it is safe to deduce that a judgment has taken place before the resurrection (which takes place at the second coming of Christ). In connection with the second coming, Jesus also said, “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.”[11] Once again, the words of Jesus infer that a judgment has already taken place, or else how could He already have the reward?

In addition, there is also evidence in the book of Daniel of a pre-Advent judgment that is to take place before the second coming of Jesus. Why the book of Daniel? Because the book of Daniel is the only book in the Old Testament that contains predictions that span all the way across history to our present day.[12] For this reason the book of Daniel is said to contain “apocalyptic literature,” which is literature “concerned with the future and often reveal God’s eschatological judgment.”[13] Because “Daniel is a primary source for Old Testament eschatology”[14] it is only logical to presume that Daniel would have something to say about an event that occurs at the end of time. Indeed, Daniel has much to say about the pre-Advent judgment.

Daniel chapter seven makes the first reference to a judgment taking place during earth’s history. In this chapter Daniel has seen a vision that spans from his day (the time of the Babylonian reign) to the end of time. Four beasts are present in the chapter which according to verse 17 are also “four kings which arise out of the earth.”[15] After these “four kings” Daniel says “As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat… The court was seated, and the books were opened.”[16] This scenario clearly depicts a judgment scene. Then, when the judgment scene is complete Daniel goes on to say “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven.”[17] According to Daniels vision, the judgment takes place before the second coming of Jesus.

Based on this evidence I propose that even if one is to reject the concept of an investigative judgment, one cannot pretend it has no biblical basis whatsoever. It is clear from the Bible and the Bible alone that a judgment will take place before the second coming of Christ. In addition to texts that support this position, stories in the Bible do likewise. When Adam and Eve sinned, Gods first action was one of investigation. Instead of God entering Eden with judgment for His rebellious creation, He entered with the question “Where are you?”[18] From there God proceeded to ask many other questions which are typical of investigation. John T. Anderson, author of Investigating the Judgment points this out along with many other examples in which God “investigated” before He acted such as in the story of the Flood, the Tower of Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah, the Passover, the Fall of Jerusalem, Babylon and others. Anderson states that “[o]ne would have a hard time finding an example in the biblical record in which God executed judgment in a significant way before first taking that extra step of investigating.”[19] Therefore, not only can we find texts that show an investigative judgment taking place before Christ’s second coming, but we can also find examples of God investigating events throughout the Bible before He implements His final decision. “No doubt you might be saying right now to yourself: ‘But God doesn’t need to inquire – He already knows everything.’ And you’re right! But as we shall see, it isn’t for God’s direct benefit that He does this.”[20]

In summary, in the Old Testament a judgment was said to come in the future. Some would suggest that that judgment was completed at the cross, however, New Testament references to a future judgment show us that the judgment day spoken of throughout the Bible was not fulfilled at the cross.[21] “New Testament writers are unanimous that the judgment is a future event [sic] which takes place at the end of the age (John 5:28, 29; 12:48).”[22] Therefore, the judgment takes place after the death of Christ (A.D. 31) but before the second coming of Jesus as we have seen.[23] Hence, the judgment could have begun at any point between A.D. 31 and the second coming of Jesus. For that reason, based on both textual and exemplary evidence it is clear that the concept of a pre-Advent investigative judgment is one-hundred percent biblical.

[1] Marvin Moore, The Case For The Investigative Judgment: Its Biblical Foundation [Nampa: Pacific Press, 2010], 21.
[2] Jo Ann Davidson, Principal Contributor. Glimpses Of Our God: Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide [Nampa: Pacific Press, 2012], 35.
[3] Jacques B Doukhan, Secrets of Daniel: Wisdom and Dreams of a Jewish Prince in Exile [Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 2000], 112.
[4] Ecc. 11:9 [NIV].
[5] Psa. 96:13.
[6] Matt. 12:36.
[7] 2 Cor. 5:10.
[8] Martin Weber, “Never Before Published Desmond Ford Dialogues About the 1844 Judgment, Ford And Weber Dialogue, Section II: Ford’s Critique Of Weber,” Scribd, [accessed Feb 1, 2012].
[9] Martin Weber, “Pre-Advent Judgment,” SDA For Me, [accessed January 31, 2012].
[10] John 5:28-29.
[11] Rev. 22:12
[12] The book of Isaiah contains what is referred to as the “Little Apocalypse.” However, the book of Daniel is the main source of Apocalyptic literature in the Old Testament.
[13] Bill T. Arnold and Brian E. Beyer, Encountering the Old Testament: A Christian Survey, 2nd ed. [Grand Rapids, Baker Academic, 2008], 428.
[14] ibid., 433.
[15] Dan. 7:17.
[16] Dan. 7:9-10.
[17] Dan. 7:13.
[18] Gen. 3:9.
[19] John T. Anderson, Investigating the Judgment: A Revolutionary Look At God’s Total Fairness And Relentless Effort To Save Us, [Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 2003], 105.
[20] ibid., 23.
[21] Mat. 7:22, 10:15, 12:41; Luk. 11:31; Act. 25:6; 1 Co. 4:5; Heb. 10:27; 1 Jn. 4:17.
[22] Leslie Hardinge, With Jesus in His Sanctuary: A Walk Through the Tabernacle Along His Way [Harrisburg: American Cassette Ministries, 1991], 538.
[23] For a study on the date of Christ’s crucifixion see: Nichols, Francis, D., eds. The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary: A Basis For New Testament Chronology. Vol. 5 Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 1976. 251-254. The commonly accepted date by many scholars ranges from A.D. 30 – 31.
The Pre-Advent Judgment 1: My Struggle with The Pre-Advent Judgment

Welcome to In this blog I share, among many other things, thoughts, ideas, articles and papers I have written on my personal experience with Jesus through the lens of Seventh-day Adventism. I am going to start it all off by sharing a paper I wrote on Adventisms most unique doctrine (the Investigative Judgment) and what it has come to mean for me. Feel free to comment, share, link, and redistribute any of this work. All I ask is that you do not alter any of the materials and that you give proper attribution. With that said, here is part 1.

The Pre-Advent Judgment

“The uniqueness of the sanctuary doctrine helps make it a prime target for attack.”[1] Although many of our doctrines are shared in other denominations the pre-Advent judgment “‘being uniquely our own, has also laid us open as a church to more opprobrium, ridicule, and scorn from other Christian churches than any other doctrine.’”[2] If this wasn’t bad in and of itself, “writing in Christianity Today, former Adventist David Neff has said that ‘few contemporary Adventists can explain it [the investigative judgment] and few Adventist theologians still teach it.’”[3] Neff’s statement has in fact been a reality in my own life. Therefore, as I prepared to write this paper, I told my wife that the outcome of my research would determine whether or not I remained a Seventh-day Adventist.

Like the vast majority of Seventh-day Adventists, the pre-Advent judgment was a doctrine that I knew little about. Had I been required to defend it or simply to teach it, I would have been entirely incapable of performing the task. This is a sad reality considering the fact that the understanding and embrace of the pre-Advent judgment doctrine is rather unique to Adventism (though not fully as we will later see). After weeks of study on the topic from both proponents and antagonists to this teaching, I have come to realize that the doctrine of the pre-Advent judgment is the simplest, and most logical conclusion to be derived from the Bible. In the pages that follow, I will attempt to retrace some of the steps of my journey to this discovery. In the process I will demonstrate that the Bible truly supports the idea of a pre-Advent judgment, that the pre-Advent judgment correlates perfectly to righteousness by faith, and that Ellen G. White is not necessary to believe in the pre-Advent judgment. I will then conclude at last by exploring some of Ellen G. Whites “legalistic” statements with relation to the pre-Advent judgment and the difference that such a doctrine would make in the life of a born-again Christian.

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

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[1] Clifford Goldstein, False Balances [Boise: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1992], 24.
[2] ibid.
[3] ibid., 23.
[4] Dan. 8:14.