Posts tagged Investigative Judgment
The Top 4 Arguments Against the Investigative Judgment (and How to Answer Them)

Note: This article is a follow-up to the post: "Why The Critics of the Investigative Judgment Have Failed". Click here to give it a read first.

The Top 4 Arguments Against the Investigative Judgment (and How to Answer Them)
by Mike Ciprian Manea

Adventism is a robust and beautiful system of faith that deserves thoughtful consideration and exploration. However, quite the opposite has taken place. Criticisms and attacks against our church are common place. Myths and misunderstandings abound. And website after website is dedicated to exposing what they label as a "cult", "heresy", and "legalistic religion". There is almost no end to the charges labelled against us. At the center of every critique, every controversy, and every accusation is an overwhelming disdain for the doctrine of the Investigative Judgment which Adventists believe was foretold by Daniels vision of the 2300 days and began in 1844. Over the decades Adventists have responded to many of these charges and sought to vindicate the church and its history. However, our attempts have not always been successful. In this post I would like to present why our arguments have failed and how we can move forward in defending this pillar of our faith.

My experience with Adventist responses to the critics has been that they generally  take the following format:
1.Here is a list of several hundred arguments against 1844/Sanctuary/Investigative Judgment (henceforth S/IJ) 
2. Here is our response to each of those arguments (complete with prooftexts).
What our people have failed to discern is that, of the many arguments raised against this Adventist doctrine, 5% of the arguments do 95% of the damage. Not just this, but this handful of arguments are of such a nature that they muddy the waters, even poison the well, preventing the church from having a much needed, mature conversation on this pivotal doctrine. Therefore, for Adventists to respond by trying to answer each and every objection rather than focusing on the main arguments is a waste of time and has proven, time and time again, to be quite fruitless.

I have found that there are four types of arguments (the 5%) which have done the most to influence people against this Adventist doctrine than any others. It is these arguments which must be addressed before any real conversation can be had. I label the four arguments below as follows: the Soteriological Argument, the House of Cards Argument, the Hebrews Argument and the Eisegesis Argument.

The Soteriological Argument
As recently as his latest book, Desmond Ford states in the preface:
"This is not dry theology. It is not a matter to be left to scholars who have little contact with the 'real world.' This is about your personal assurance of salvation. The doctrine of the Investigative Judgment that began in 1844 denies the finality of the Cross, God's omniscience, and the reality of saving faith. Instead of the gospel being 'good, glad, and merry tidings, which makes the heart to sing and the feet to dance', it is made an accompaniment to fear."
In my opinion, soteriological objections strike at the very core of a denomination's belief system and should have taken precedence over other objections. Otherwise, this concern tends to skew people's perception of the issues and their ability to impartially evaluate the rest of the evidence.

As mentioned in the article "Why The Critics of the Investigative Judgment Have Failed" (please read this if you have not as this article won't make complete sense without it) I don't believe that the critics have met the minimum standard of evidence for this argument to qualify as legitimate. If their intention was to argue for a Calvinist or OSAS-Arminian gospel, then they should have made that clear from the start as the Calvinism-Arminianism debate had been going on for centuries prior to Adventism and had nothing to do with the S/IJ.

If however, they were arguing for an Arminian gospel, it was their responsibility to demonstrate that changing the timing of the judgment from immediately after death to just prior to the second coming, impacted the soteriology in some way. Since all Classical Arminians believe salvation can be lost, they all believe that, prior to heaven or hell, born again believes are separated into two camps. The only difference is that they believe heaven and hell happen right after you die so this differentiation has to happen then as well.

In my opinion, the conversation with the critics should not have been allowed to continue until they first either acknowledged that the Soteriological objection is baseless or they found a way to demonstrate that IJ soteriology is in some way different from Classical Arminian soteriology. The onus really is on them.

The House of Cards Argument
This argument is pretty similar to the Soteriological Argument, and tends to play on people's fears in the same way, but its basis is a bit different. The idea here is that the Investigative Judgment is a theological construct that is entirely dependent on a long series of assumptions which, in turn, are themselves dependent on many more assumptions.

So if you picture a house of cards, the IJ is the pinnacle of the fragile structure. This pinnacle is resting on another layer of cards which represents things like Jesus entering the Holy Place in the book of Hebrews, the link Adventists make between the IJ and the Old Testament Day of Atonement and, the Adventist interpretation of Dan. 8:14. But this card layer rests on top of another layer which represents things like the correct translation of certain Greek words in the book of Hebrews, the correct translation of key terms in the book of Daniel, the Day-Year principle, the correct date for the decree to rebuild Jerusalem, etc.

The picture thus presented is that if Adventists are wrong on even one of these assumptions, the entire theological structure collapses. Not just this, but it's not even necessary to prove these assumptions wrong. All that's needed is to insinuate some doubt. After all, would God really expect His people to place so much trust in a theological framework that rests on such shaky a foundation? Would He expect them to preach a distinct message, to have a unique mission unlike any other denomination, to possibly even adopt a strange gospel, when everything rests on so many unsubstantiated assumptions?[1]

The argument is made that because Adventist scholars have been unable to demonstrate each one of these assumptions with absolute certainty, the doctrine stands on too fragile a foundation to merit putting our faith in it as a denomination. No wonder our theologians have had difficulty meeting such heavy a burden of proof.

But, once again, the Investigative Judgment is not dependent on any of these assumptions. The only foundation it needs is Arminianism and Soul Sleep:
1) Arminian Soteriology - people who were once fully saved can still lose their salvation and God has to differentiate between those who remain in Christ and those who don't. 
2) Arminian Theodicy - given that created beings have free will, God must win them over rather than coerce them. Therefore, He holds open/public judgment so that all created beings can discern for themselves if God's judgments are fair. 
3) Soul Sleep - since people don't get their reward at death but at the second coming, the judgment does not need to take place until sometime just prior to Christ's coming.
On these three points alone, the pre-advent investigative judgment stands securely, whether or not we can offer conclusive proof for which decree starts the seventy weeks, for the day-year principle or anything else. The investigative judgment is actually the foundation of the pyramid rather than the pinnacle.

The Hebrews Argument
An enormous amount of time has been spent by church scholars trying to demonstrate that the book of Hebrews doesn't teach that Jesus entered the Most Holy Place at His ascension. Arguments have been made that maybe He entered in only to inaugurate the Most Holy Place, not start the Day of Atonement ministry. Here is an excerpt from a Spectrum article by Andre Reis:
"The bias for interpretative tradition in regards to 1844 is illustrated by an interesting episode I witnessed not long ago. I recently visited a certain Adventist seminary and stumbled upon a class on Hebrews. The teacher was a prominent author of DARCOM and the subject was the 'inauguration' of the heavenly sanctuary which the teacher used to justify the fact that, although Hebrews 6 undeniably places Jesus inside the Most Holy Place at his ascension, this entering in the Most Holy Place was merely to 'inaugurate' it. In other words, Jesus entered the Most Holy Place at the ascension, inaugurated it, left it and then went in again 1844.
"I was disturbed to see that he was presenting views that had been debunked by another Adventist scholar in an exchange they had in one of our printed magazines. Never did he mention his dialogue with the other scholar. I raised my hand and asked him where in the OT do we see blood going into the Most Holy Place in any of the OT inauguration passages. By his reaction, I suspected he knew that there is no such OT passage. He hesitated for a second and then appealed to the book of Hebrews. In other words, the book of Hebrews proves that in the same book Hebrews Jesus inaugurated the sanctuary with blood, even though none of the OT passages mention blood within the sanctuary, let alone the Most Holy Place. I didn’t press the issue and I doubt his students understood the implications of my question. The fallacy of the argument is disappointing, if not dishonest.[2]"
The unfortunate thing is that this was a battle that was wholly unnecessary. Adventist theology has no need for Jesus to enter any particular room at any particular time. Our only concern is with the distinction between the daily ministry and the yearly ministry of the high priest. Heavenly architecture, or geography, is irrelevant.

The symbolism of the Old Testament sanctuary was not intended to be taken as a 1:1 correlation with its antitype. To be an accurate correlation, the high priest would have had to double as the sacrifice as well. And, there should have been only one sacrifice, not many. The earthly priest was a sinful human and needed a veil to shield him from the Shekinah glory while Jesus was holy, undefiled, separate from sinners, and could sit at the right hand of the Father from the beginning. None of this in any way detracts from the validity of a pre-advent judgment firmly planted in Arminianism and Soul Sleep. And, given that the IJ is solid, the correlation with the Day of Atonement ministry is clear simply because the symbolism lines up so well.

The Eisegesis Argument
The idea behind this argument has been that Adventists needed some way to save face after the embarrassment of 1844 and, therefore, came up with a new doctrine to superimpose on Daniel 8 in place of Miller's interpretation. Much has been put forth by the critics trying to demonstrate that the Adventist interpretation of Dan. 8 is flawed. But there is a major problem with what the critics have presented that must be addressed even BEFORE we consider their objections. And, it's a problem with Epistemology.

Unlike most world religions, the religion of the Bible has always been a religion of evidence. God gave evidence to Abraham and to Moses before expecting them to follow Him. God sent plagues on Egypt for both the Israelites' and Egyptians' sake. God delivered Daniel's friends through the fire to get through to Nebuchadnezzar. God followed the ministry of Jesus and the apostles with all kinds of signs and miracles, etc. But at this time in history, when people are more skeptical than ever and have high expectations that evidence be provided for any religious claim, what exactly do we have to offer them? What can we present to outsiders as reason why they should consider Christianity rather than hundreds of other religious perspectives?

And, the reality is that the only thing we have in Christianity that would qualify as such evidence is Bible prophecy. Without prophecy, there is no reason for people to pay any more attention to us than to other non-Christian religions. Subjective evidence like, a coherent worldview, a transformed life, help in time of trouble, etc., are claims all religions make. Now the Bible has always acknowledged prophecy as an important line of evidence, even a superior line of evidence (ex. Luke 24:13-35). And, Revelation seems to indicate that other lines of evidence, like miracles, will be hijacked by the opposition at the end of time. Moreover, a plain reading of the apocalyptic passages themselves (Daniel and Revelation), indicates that they were in fact intended to be taken as such evidence.

So before the critics bring up any problems with our interpretation of these passages, they need to first clarify how they address these epistemic concerns. What objective evidence can they offer interested outsiders in support of Christianity? Or are they really satisfied with a religion that lacks such evidence? What reason can they give against using prophecy this way when it was clearly intended for this purpose?

If however the critics do agree that prophecy should be used as evidence, then there are certain criteria that must be present before prophecy can qualify as evidence:
1) Prophecy cannot make obscure claims about nondescript events (ex. In the future someone will conquer some nation). It should address specific and major world events that are well known to history. 
2) A prediction must cover events far enough into the future for us to know that the prophecy was not made after the fact or through the common human intuition of someone with a deep understanding of political affairs. 
3) If the prophecy is encoded in symbols, there must be some strict rule or key of interpretation evident in the text that would prevent someone from arbitrarily interpreting the symbols in whatever way fits with history. Otherwise, any version of history could be made to line up with the prophecies making them useless as far as evidence goes. A person who doesn't know anything about history should still be able to follow the keys/rules and come to decipher the correct interpretation.
In essence, any rational outsider looking at Christianity will not take the prophecies seriously if they don't conform to these rules. But, by these criteria, both Preterism and Futurism as systems of interpretation are automatically disqualified.[3]

Adventists are descendants of William Miller who, as a former deist, approached the bible from a skeptic's point of view. Similarly, we live today in a world where many people will not take Christianity seriously unless some line of evidence can be provided for its legitimacy. In this context, Adventists do have a coherent system of prophetic interpretation that abides by these criteria. And, before we take the objections of critics seriously, they need to first demonstrate that they can provide an alternative system of interpretation that also abides by the necessary criteria. As of yet however, none of the critics that I am aware of have managed to offer a legitimate alternative. In essence, their whole system can be reduced to looking at history and then adjusting the prophecy to fit.

So no, it's not that we're superimposing our views on Dan. 8 in order to save face. We're bringing a set of interpretative keys to the prophecy because this is a necessary step; something our critics also must do but have failed to do. And sure, there might be aspects of the Adventist interpretation that need additional work, but we should not allow the critics to give the impression that their approach to prophecy is in anywhere near the same class with ours. Neither should we acknowledge their critique of our approach until they can present us with a legitimate alternative

Conclusion
In my experience, there are significant segments of the church today that no longer see value in the S/IJ doctrine. But, their reasons for this are not based on sound arguments. If these four elements were dealt with, a more adequate evaluation of this Adventist doctrine would be possible.

And, this affects the church more than most people realize. The S/IJ, if correct, carries certain implications that impact our understanding of what our message is as distinct from other denominations. The fact that our message is unique means that we also have a unique and global mission. If we have a global mission, then we need a centralized church government that is able to keep up with the needs of the global work and to allocate resources accordingly.

On the other hand, if the S/IJ is either wrong or irrelevant, then our message is not very different from other denominations, our mission also is not very different, and so we could get by just fine with a more Congregationalist-style church government that tends to local needs. So even when it comes to issues that impact organizational structure how someone feels about the S/IJ will affect whether they are willing to jeopardize its integrity.

The church today is divided on many issues. But at the root of many of these issues is a significant difference of opinion regarding some of the foundational elements of Adventist theology, the S/IJ being one of them. I believe that until we confront these foundational differences, we will keep spinning our wheels debating everything else. And, it would be difficult to adequately deal with the S/IJ when the discussion has been muddied by these faulty arguments.


mike_maneaMike Manea studied theology at Andrews Theological Seminary and has served the church for over twenty years as youth pastor, missionary, Bible worker and teacher. He is currently a senior partner at Zahid|Manea LLC, a marketing and management consulting firm based in Southern California. He runs several theology and philosophy sites and podcasts and is co-founder of Intelligent Adventist. In his free time he enjoys spending time in nature with his wife and four year old son. You can follow his blog at mikemanea.com.



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[1] Here is an article that makes such a case: https://adventiststudies.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/assumptions-re-1844-full-version.pdf
[2] http://spectrummagazine.org/article/2015/10/22/perspective-1844-pillar-faith-or-mortal-wound
[3] [3] For a more in depth analysis of this, see: http://mikemanea.com/conversations/bible-prophecy-for-atheists/
Why The Critics of the Investigative Judgment Have Failed

Why The Critics of the Investigative Judgment Have Failed
By: Mike Ciprian Manea
Co-author: Marcos David Torres

On October 22, 2015, the 171st Anniversary of the Great Disappointment of 1844, Spectrum Magazine published an article entitled, “1844 - Pillar of Faith or Mortal Wound.”

According to the author, “...the viability of 1844 as a prophetic marker continues to depend heavily on isolated proof-texts. It seems Adventist scholars who defend 1844 as an unmovable rock are satisfied with finding tiny hooks in a few chosen verses that appear to (albeit remotely) support our position.” Moreover, “...we have been given in to the temptation to hold on to tradition instead of continuing to study Scripture. We have overstated our case and stretched the evidence in order to confirm our “prophetic identity.” And frankly, that is all 1844 really is, it only massages our corporate ego, it does little for the individual believer. I can believe that Jesus has been my perfect intercessor since the ascension without jeopardizing my standing with God.” Therefore, “We should have the humility to accept that we may have been wrong all along about the nature and timeline of Christ’s priestly ministry in heaven.”[i]

This article is just one of hundreds that have been written over the years by non-Adventists, former Adventists and, church members alike, questioning the validity of this unique Adventist doctrine. Objections have been raised that:

-The Investigative Judgment (IJ) is nothing more than a feeble face-saving attempt to address the mistake of 1844. 
-It is an extra-Biblical doctrine invented entirely by Ellen White.
-It cheapens the Reformation gospel of Salvation by grace through faith.
-It robs Adventists of the assurance of salvation and causes them to live in constant fear.
-No other denomination has seen any value in this doctrine and hence all have rejected it.
-A good number of Adventist ministers and theologians secretly know the doctrine to be false but are afraid to admit it.

Adventists have repeatedly refuted each of these claims. Nevertheless, the critics do not relent. If we respond with a humble and open mind on these issues, we are interpreted as being uncertain. If we reply with perfect confidence, we are accused of being dogmatic and intransigent. It seems no matter what answers Adventists can come up with they appear to always be interpreted as reactionary inventions cooked up to keep ourselves from having to bury a dead concept; one that depends on the KJV translation for its veracity, on isolated and dubious texts such as Daniel 8:14, on the day/year principle, or on the translation of some uncertain Greek or Hebrew terms.

In light of these attacks, one would think the debate was over. Nevertheless, as we will now demonstrate, the debate is far from over. While critics may pride themselves in their long list of seemingly conclusive arguments, the truth is they have no argument. But if they have no argument then why do they continue to press the matter?

The answer is simple. Over the decades, Adventists have allowed the critics to portray the IJ as a sort of theoretical concoction that is entirely dependent on the veracity of a long series of prerequisite assumptions (such as day/year, Daniel 8:14, etc.). And if there is any doubt regarding any of these assumptions, the entire theological structure collapses like a house of cards.

However, the IJ cannot be refuted this way (as the author of the Spectrum article and other critics have gone about it). Their approach, in essence, has been a futile attempt to kill a tree by plucking off the leaves. This doctrine is not dependent on the day/year principle, Dan. 8:14, Leviticus or some passage in Hebrews - that is only the route by which Adventists came to discover it. In reality, the IJ is much broader and rests first of all on an Arminian understanding of the Protestant gospel.

Classical Arminianism and Free Will 
During the Protestant Reformation, two distinct camps emerged under the banner of Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide and Sola Gratia with conflicting views regarding the human will. The first, Calvinism, rejected the idea of free will in favor of predestination.[ii] This perspective was later articulated as five distinct points using the mnemonic T.U.L.I.P. (see chart below for more info).

(T)otal Depravity
(U)nconditional Election
(L)imited Atonement
(I)rresistible Grace
(P)erseverance of the Saints

In contrast, the second camp, Arminianism, fully supported the concept of human free will and therefore rejected each one of the five points above. Please take a look at the following chart for a more detailed explanation of the differences, paying special attention to point number five:

Copyright © 2016 CRI/Voice, Institute by Dennis Bratcher [iii] 
Now here comes the tricky part and, incidentally, the most important part:

Over time, a third camp emerged that took something of a hybrid approach. They adopted the first four points from the Arminian side and the fifth point from the Calvinist side giving rise to what is popularly referred to as the concept of Once Saved Always Saved (hereafter O.S.A.S). What's tricky about this is that they still call themselves Arminian even though, in discussions about the IJ, how they feel about point number five of the TULIP formula is the single, most important factor. (For the remainder of this paper I will be using the labels “Classical Arminianism” vs. “O.S.A.S. Arminianism”)

Therefore, in any discussion about the IJ, before any mention is made of Hebrew terms in Daniel or Greek terms in Hebrews or the validity of the day-year principle, two questions should be asked of any critic:

1) Are you a Calvinist?
2) If not, do you believe in Once Saved Always Saved?

Why does this matter? Because all Classical Arminians reject the idea of Once Saved Always Saved, they all believe that a person who has experienced a genuine new birth can still be lost, and therefore, all believe in some form of IJ differentiating between believers, even though they don't call it that.[iv] However, most Arminians also believe that when a person dies, they are carried directly into the presence of God for judgment. At this moment, it is determined if they were faithful or not and the sentence is pronounced for either reward or punishment.[v] Adventists, on the other hand, believe that people rest in their graves until the resurrection. Thus, there is no longer a necessity to force-fit the IJ immediately after death; we don’t need to rationalize away all the Biblical passages that speak of the judgment as being in the future. Since we believe Jesus will bring His reward with Him at His coming, the judgment needs only to take place shortly prior to that.

In essence, the Adventist doctrine of the IJ is the natural outgrowth of Arminianism and Soul Sleep. All the other elements (1844, the Hebrews passages, the day-year principle) are useful in understanding the judgment and its relevance, but they are not essential.[vi] In other words, the IJ does not stand or fall on any of those issues. Its necessity stands or falls on the validity of Classical Arminianism and its eventuality stands or falls on the validity of Soul Sleep theology. Since Adventists correctly affirm both of these foundations to be true, we are therefore correct about the nature of the IJ. At this juncture, the likelihood that we are also correct about all these other elements, including the timing, is extremely high before the conversation even starts.

In summary, if a person believes that:

1) Salvation can be lost,
2) That God judges,
3) That the souls of men sleep until the resurrection
4) And, that this reward/punishment is not received until the resurrection,

Such a person will very likely come to believe in an Adventist-like pre-advent IJ irrespective of any other factors. If salvation can be lost, this matter must be objectively decided before the church goes to heaven. If God judges, then part of his judgment work would be to determine the faithful from the apostate (the nature of the IJ).[vii] At this point, we have the basic building blocks for the IJ. And while 3rd and 4th propositions do not lead us to 1844 (the timing of the IJ) they leave the door comfortably open for such a possibility.[viii] And, this is why those who attack this doctrine on peripheral issues like Greek or Hebrew terminology are, quite honestly, wasting their time. If critics would like to tear the IJ down as a theological concept the only way to do it would be to deny its Classical Arminian foundation and the Mortal Soul concept which naturally gives birth to the IJ as Adventists understand it (Appendix A). However, the critics have not and cannot do this which is why, after many decades of effort, they have failed in their attempts to refute this doctrine.



Johnny, Jim, and Bob 
For the sake of clarity, let’s take a brief look at how each of the three theological traditions views salvation.

Calvinism

Before the foundations of the world, God decreed that Johnny would be lost, and Jim saved for reasons having nothing to do with them. So, for example, Johnny might be a relatively good person and Jim a criminal. Nonetheless, because God ordained it, Johnny would never come to recognize his need of a Savior or repent of his sins. Jim, on the other hand, at some point in his life, will come to repent and experience a genuine new birth.

Moreover, even if Jim falls away after being born again, some time before his death, he will come back to Christ and die having made peace with God. Again, all this for no other reason than that God has decreed it to be so; neither Johnny nor Jim chose any of it or could change their fate if they wanted to. Therefore, an IJ in such a case would be pointless.

O.S.A.S. Arminianism

Under this paradigm, both Johnny and Jim are offered the gospel invitation. They are both free to accept or reject that invitation, and God does not interfere with this choice. Johnny, of his own free will, chooses to reject it and Jim to accept it. However, having accepted the invitation and having experienced a genuine new birth, his salvation is secure and can no longer be lost. It does not matter if after being born again he turns away from God, becomes more evil than Hitler himself, or longs with all his heart to undo his former decision to come to Christ. His salvation is sealed; he no longer has free will in this respect. So a pre-Advent IJ in this situation would be pointless since there is, in a technical sense, no such thing as an apostate.

Classical Arminianism

To understand this perspective, we need to introduce Bob. As before, the gospel invitation is still being extended freely to all. Johnny, as usual, rejects it. Both Jim and Bob accept it. They both open their hearts to Christ; they are both born again, sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, pardoned of their sins, declared to be the sons of God, and there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels on behalf of both. However, only Jim makes it to heaven while Bob ends up lost in the end.[ix] So it is evident that an IJ, in this case, is far more complex a process than simply whether a person has accepted Christ or not.[x]

Again, Arminian Protestants would argue that this IJ of sorts takes place when Jim and Bob die. Both would be ushered into the presence of God where their case would be reviewed either for heaven or hell. Jim would make it to heaven by virtue of his faith in Christ. Bob, on the other hand, having decided to turn his back on Christ, would be turned away. Since, as Adventists, we do not believe in the immortality of the soul and therefore that God has to have a place ready for the soul immediately after death, there is no need to enter into this judgment then and there. In fact, there are even some Christians who, recognizing that the judgment takes place in the future, attempt to harmonize this by proposing some type of “holding cell” where people don’t immediately get their reward but only await their day in court. To support this, they make reference to Peter’s “spirits in prison” (1 Pet. 3:19 KJV) and to the example of the fallen angels whom “he has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day” (Jude 1:6). All these being workarounds Adventists don’t need because we don’t believe the dead are conscious. Nor does God need to judge each person one at a time but instead “has appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world” (Acts 17:31).

For over a century and a half, the Adventist church has been challenged by critics from inside and outside the denomination, insisting that the doctrine of the IJ is unbiblical at best and cultic at worst. These voices have called us to discard this teaching if we wish to remain orthodox. Nevertheless, we remain unconvinced by the many peripheral attacks made against this doctrine for we see it, not as dependent on a long list of small exegetical presuppositions, but as the natural outgrowth of Classical Arminianism and Soul Sleep. In light of this foundation we concur that many critics of the IJ are, quite possibly, either:

1) Concerned with Classical Arminianism, a debate that was raging centuries before Adventism came around.
2) Concerned with non-essentials (day/year principle, Daniel 8:14, 1844, the meaning of chatak in Daniel 9, the connection between Daniel 8 and 9, Leviticus, the book of Hebrews, etc.) in which case, we are free to disagree without having to discard the entire doctrine.
3) Concerned with a pseudo IJ in which case they are really attacking a straw man.
4) Unaware of the real theological issues at hand such as the differences between Calvinism and Arminianism, and their development throughout the centuries.

In conclusion, the Adventist church will not discard the IJ because we have no need to do so and critics have failed in providing us with one. Therefore, our message to the critics of the IJ is as follows:

1) If you are a Calvinist/ OSAS Arminian, you need to be upfront about this. At this juncture, the debate is not so much about the IJ peripherals as much as the IJ foundation – Classical Arminianism. So rather than expending valuable time debating non-essentials let’s get to the core of it.[xi]
2) If you are a Classical Arminian, then we invite you to re-explore the topic with an open mind. There are countless resources that conclusively demonstrate that the IJ doctrine is scripturally sound.
3) If, regardless of anything the Adventist church does, you maintain that the IJ is heretical and false then we have no burden to enter into controversy with you. The church cannot consume valuable time and energy in attempting to satisfy the accusations of those whose minds are made up beyond reason.

Moreover, we have a message to the Adventist church as well. As a church, we need to be more proactive in confronting people of influence (counter-cult apologists, Christian leaders, etc.) who continue to either misunderstand or misrepresent our views.  There is no reason to keep struggling against the current when taking our message to the general public because a few key people continue to incite prejudice and superstition. We have a solid foundation for the IJ and we can stand firm on it as we continue to explore and perfect our understanding of the details that make this doctrine so unique in the Christian world.

Appendix A: Possible Objections 
The Classical Arminianism/ Soul Sleep combination gives Adventism a strong philosophical basis for believing in an IJ. However, some may continue to argue that while this combination may leave the door open to an IJ as the church understands it, it does not necessarily demand that such a conclusion be reached. In light of this objection, this appendix will explore each of the alternative views of judgment that are logically possible under the Arminian/ Soul Sleep combination and demonstrate how the official SDA understanding on the matter continues to be the most satisfactory conclusion.

The IJ Cannot possibly be true because it is anti-gospel/ perfectionistic in nature.

Little needs to be said regarding this attack. While we wholeheartedly agree that this doctrine has been abused to promote legalism and perfectionism, Adventist theologians and scholars have repeatedly demonstrated that this is a perversion of the doctrine, not its essence. The fact that critics continue to make this claim demonstrates that they are either Calvinists who think Classical Arminianism is anti-gospel, OSAS Arminians who think the doctrine of eternal security is a test of gospel orthodoxy, or they remain ignorant of Adventism’s soteriological heritage. Needless to say, any student concerned with the implications that the IJ has for a proper understanding of the gospel can find numerous resources that answer this question to the satisfaction of anyone who acknowledges the legitimacy of Classical Arminian soteriology. We recommend some in our resource page below.

God knows who is saved without a judgment

One might argue that while Classical Arminians reject once saved always saved it does not necessarily follow that a judgment is necessary for “God knows those who are his”. In this argument then, the need for any judgment of any sort remains unnecessary due to the omniscience of God. While the Arminian/ Soul Sleep combination may, in fact, leave the door open for a concept such as the IJ, it does not necessarily mandate such a conclusion. Because God knows who has turned their back on Christ, there is no need for him to perform a work of judgment to determine who has been faithful and who has not. God can simply allow the faithful in and reject the apostate on the basis of his own perfect knowledge.

Such a conclusion, while certainly permitted within the Arminian/ Soul Sleep framework, is nevertheless lacking in various aspects. The most obvious would be that such a position is more in keeping with Calvinism than Classical Arminianism. Part of Classical Arminianism’s meta-narrative is that God is benevolent. This benevolence of God opens the door for a fairness, transparency, and general other-centered concern that is not self-evident in Calvinism. Because Christians acknowledged that the sin-drama has affected the entire universe, including angels, it is only fair and transparent for God to allow the finite creation into his all-knowing judgments. However, the idea that God would judge everyone based solely on his omniscience denies this other-centered concern and does not fit the Arminian framework. Again, such a position is more logically consistent with Calvinism, which elevates the sovereignty of God to such a height that God becomes, in the estimation of all Arminians, arbitrary and aloof. In Calvinism, God acts according to his desires with no input or apparent concern for the thoughts of others. This makes perfect sense for Calvinism denies the freedom of the will. Thus, within this framework, a God who acts according to his omniscience without any benevolent concern for the thoughts of his created beings is perfectly in keeping. However, Arminianism is a denial of Calvinism, which, while maintaining the sovereignty of God does so by paradoxically balancing this with the freedom of man thus resulting in a much different picture of God. The picture that emerges from the Arminian concept of God is that of a God is certainly omniscient but likewise benevolent. Thus, to suggest that God would judge the world based on his omniscience alone is to deny his benevolence toward the angels who have been involved in the same drama over humanity’s salvation and the sin problem. Sadly, many Classical Arminians, in their desire to refute the IJ doctrine switch their God-picture from Arminianism to Calvinism in order to raise this objection without even realizing it. Thus, while it is true that God does know who is saved without a judgment, it is equally true that the judgment is not intended to be based solely on Gods omniscience but on his benevolence as well. As a result, it makes much more sense to see God as participating in a work of judgment that is transparent for the benefit of all creation.

Thus, while it is certainly permitted to argue against a judgment on the basis of God’s omniscience in the Arminian/ Soul Sleep framework Adventist theologians are under no obligation to do so and in fact, are more internally consistent by not switching their view of God from Arminian to Calvinist for the sake of arguing against a particular doctrine.

God judges through unconscious soul sleep.

One might likewise argue that while Adventists reject the immortal soul doctrine, it does not necessarily follow that the judgment must be a corporate event that begins at some point in human history. God could just as easily judge each person while they are unconsciously asleep. According to this view, the only difference between Adventists and other Arminians is that the human is not consciously present at their judgment but is nevertheless judged at the moment of their death.

This is certainly a viable position to take. However, those who take this position are still affirming that believers must be judged and that Christ’s ministry did not end at the cross. In addition, they still have to explain why God would have to judge if he is omniscient, what benefit the judgment has for creation, why the judgment has gone for so long, what the judgment actually means for believers, the relationship of that judgment to assurance, the relevance/ importance of such a judgment and the relationship of the day of atonement to the judgment (since every believer would face their own "day of atonement" where the faithful were separated from the apostates after death so to speak).

In other words, if a person affirms the need for an IJ they may continue to deny the validity of 1844 by suggesting that the judgment takes place at each individual person’s death. However, at this point, they would have to embrace all of the concepts of the IJ doctrine with the exception of its structure or timing. If a person decides to go this route, the entire debate has shifted from two fronts (soteriological and eschatological) to just one – the eschatological. By affirming the need for an IJ under the Arminian / Soul Sleep framework, we eliminate the soteriological debate and find ourselves in need of an IJ of some sort. At this point, the only question that remains is: How does God choose to perform the judgment? Does he do it individually? Or, has he ordained a day in history in which he will begin a judgment process? (We will address this question in more detail in a future article. Appendix B briefly explores this.)

Because Adventists do not believe in the immortal soul, we are under no obligation to force the judgment onto each individual at the moment of death. Such a judgment would be unnecessary since the person would rest in the grave until the second coming anyways. Thus, there would be no need for the judgment to take place at each individual death. As a result, Adventist theologians are free to take the Biblical texts pointing to a judgment day future of the cross but prior to the second coming as literally pointing to a judgment process that begins at a certain point in human history.

God may in fact judge, but has not revealed how.

Finally, one may attempt to argue that while the Classical Arminian + Soul Sleep combination may lead to an IJ of some sort the Bible does not reveal any details on how. In other words, the foundation for the IJ may be solid but everything else we believe about the IJ is false because scripture simply does not reveal the details of the IJ as much as Adventists claim it does. With this argument in mind, a critic may insist that the best we can do is affirm that all will be judged but will still have to discard all of the peripheral details which Adventists believe about the IJ leaving us with a similar pre-advent judgment theology to that of the United Methodists who, - in reference to the judgment – refuse to enter into specifics. Adventism’s IJ is, therefore, still false because it claims to understand more about God’s judgment than scripture actually reveals. To borrow the words of Andre Reis (the above cited article), “We have overstated our case and stretched the evidence…” A critic who raises this argument may, in fact, go on to say that the foundation for the IJ does not help the SDA case at all because all it does is give us the basics – but it’s not the basics that are the problem it’s the details that we foolishly claim to have ironed out (especially the idea that this judgment began in 1844).


However, this argument also fails. For starters, it’s really not that different to the previous “God judges through unconscious soul sleep” argument. And because it’s not that different it leads to the same conclusions. If we are agreeing to an IJ of some sort logic alone would lead us to the same questions as if we were talking about Adventism’s detailed IJ. Questions such as, “Why does God need to judge?” “Does this judgment deny assurance of salvation?” and “When does this judgment begin?” With these, and many other questions, Adventist theologians would have two options: 1) Opt for a “We don’t know and the Bible doesn’t say” or, 2) In typical Adventist fashion, go back to the scriptures and search for answers. It would be ridiculous to assert that the most noble course would be to evade the question and Adventist theologians and scholars are under no Biblical obligation to ignore the many texts that clearly answer the natural questions that would arise from a basic IJ motif. And it is by answering those naturally arising questions that we arrive at Adventism’s IJ doctrine. In addition, Adventist theologians and scholars have repeatedly demonstrated that the way in which we comprehend the details of the judgment are exegetically and theologically sound. Critics are free to disagree but our challenge would be that they not simply disagree but come up with a better IJ doctrine than what Adventism has discovered. And the truth is, they cannot do this. The best they can do is evade the question by claiming that scripture does not reveal these things. 

Summary

In summary, there are four primary objections that can be raised against the philosophical foundation of the IJ doctrine within the Arminian/ Soul Sleep framework. Those four arguments, while permissible, nevertheless fail to account for the meta-narrative of both Arminianism and Soul Sleep. And while other arguments can be raised we are convinced that these four constitute the most plausible alternatives. Thus, we conclude that to believe in both Classical Arminianism and Soul Sleep demands a judgment narrative that begins at some point in human history between the cross and the second coming. The only way to deny such a powerful foundation is to deny Classical Arminianism. However, at this point, a person is no longer debating the IJ but the age old Calvinism, Arminian, OSAS debate that has raged from centuries past until this very day. In addition, if a person takes this position they are certainly free to label Adventists as heretics so long as they are ready to label all Classical Arminians heretics alongside us. And if that is the case, I speak on behalf of many Adventists that I know when I say we will gladly accept the label.

The IJ stands strong, not based on little verses here and there, but on the logical outworking of the Arminian and Soul Sleep meta-narratives coming together into one cohesive theological system. While this certainly does not settle all of the questions it gives the SDA church a foundation for believing in the IJ from which we can confidently debate, discuss, and explore the sanctuary, Hebrews, and the eschatological ramifications of Daniel 8-9. It is to some of these themes that we now turn.

Resources
The Case for the Investigative Judgment by Marvin Moore: http://www.amazon.com/Case-Investigative-Judgment-Marvin-Moore/dp/0816323852

The Apocalyptic Vision and the Neutering of Adventism by George R. Knight: http://www.amazon.com/The-Apocalyptic-Vision-Neutering-Adventism/dp/0828023859 

The Judgment and Assurance by W.W. Whidden: http://www.amazon.com.au/The-Judgment-Assurance-Woodrow-Whidden-ebook/dp/B0088HJJEA

The Pre-Advent Judgment by Marcos Torres: http://www.pomopastor.com/p/books.html

Facing Life's Record (An Analysis of the Great Controversy's Scariest Chapter) by Marcos Torres: http://www.pomopastor.com/2013/08/facing-lifes-record-analysis-of-great.html

Website: www.1844madesimple.org

Footnotes

[i] http://spectrummagazine.org/article/2015/10/22/perspective-1844-pillar-faith-or-mortal-wound
[ii] While technically Lutheranism classifies as the first camp to emerge during the protestant reformation it failed to answer certain questions which then gave birth to Calvinism and Arminianism. It is these two camps that are most relevant to our discussion.
[iii] http://www.crivoice.org/tulip.html
[iv] Some may argue that if all Arminians believed in a type of IJ differentiating between believers that they would A) have produced a parallel theology to the IJ by now or, B) have embraced Adventism’s IJ. However, these propositions can be rejected for the following reasons. A) Just because an IJ is logical within a Classical Arminian framework does not mean the theologians will willingly go that route. For example, in regards to the question of what happens at death (judgment, holding cell, etc.) United Methodists refuse to take a stance even exhibiting a level of uncertainty regarding their own immortal soul theology and using this as the basis for refusing to answer the question of the judgments eventuality. [http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/what-happens-after-a-person-dies] In addition, their rejection of Adventism’s IJ is most likely due to the way in which we as a church have failed to properly present this doctrine to the world. We elaborate on this in Appendix C which explores the relevance of the IJ but will elaborate in more detail in future articles.
[v] There are a variety of views in the protestant world regarding judgment. Some believe that the dead are judged right away. Others believe in a “holding cell theology” in which the dead are placed on hold until the return of Jesus at which point they receive their reward. With regard to the living some believe that they are judged just prior to the secret rapture. 
[vi] Some might argue that Arminianism and Soul Sleep are not enough but that we also need the Great Controversy theme in order to arrive at the IJ. However, we would counter by saying that without Classical Arminianism the Great Controversy theme would not exist. While the Great Controversy theme is instrumental in making more sense of the IJ it is not essential for its foundation and is, in reality, yet another outgrowth of Classical Arminianism.
[vii] Some are entirely at variance with the idea of God having to engage in a judgment process that would determine the faithful from the apostate by virtue of his omniscience. However, such a judgment must necessarily take place. It is of no consequence if this judgment takes place in God's mind, at death, a judgement prior to second coming or a judgement at or after second coming, or even if the knowledge of the faithful and the apostate has eternally existed in God’s foreknowledge. These are nonessentials. The point is, God necessarily engages in a judgment process that separates the faithful from the apostate. The timing of this judgment is a separate, non-essential (albeit relevant) issue.
[viii] By saying that the door is left comfortably open for the possibility of 1844 we do not intend to portray 1844 as an uncertain teaching. A future article will deal with the philosophical and exegetical foundations of the timing of the IJ and demonstrate that Adventists have no need to question this conclusion either.
[ix] Lest the reader be tempted into thinking that Classical Arminianism is inherently lacking in providing assurance of salvation observe the challenges that Calvinism and OSAS Arminianism have in this respect as well. In Calvinism God elects those he saves with no choice of their own. You can only become aware that you were elected. You cannot actually choose to be saved. But what happens when a seemingly born again Christian apostatizes? Calvinism only has two answers. Either he will repent again in the future (at which point you have a person whom God has elected for both salvation and apostasy and then salvation again) or you were never really elected for salvation to begin with. Thus, many Calvinists who struggle with a post-conversion fall have been left wondering if they are eternally reprobate or not. OSAS Arminianism faces the same struggle. Either your apostasy is proof you were never saved to begin with or you will forever remain saved despite your apostasy. In the end, believers are left having to wonder which one is true of them. Classical Arminianism teaches that we are saved by grace through faith and that we remain saved, not by works, but by continued grace through faith. Likewise, a Classical Arminian can potentially experience a lack of assurance knowing that its possible for he/she to apostatize and be judged accordingly. Thus, all of these systems fail to provide “air-tight assurance” meaning in the realm of assurance none can confidently claim to be superior to the other. Nevertheless, an Arminians hope never rests on his/her performance or ability to be “faithful” but on faith in Christ as their only hope. This faith can be rejected for either legalistic reasons (such as the book of Hebrews) or carnal reasons. But so long as that faith (a gift of God) is maintained we are secure in the one in whom we put our trust.
[x] Let’s be clear here that this has nothing to do with Adventists but applies to all Classical Arminians such as Methodists and Pentecostals. And again, while not in either category Lutheranism also rejects Perseverance theology and OSAS leaving the possibility of a genuinely born again person to turn their back on God and be lost wide open.
[xi] The article cited in the opening claims that "We should have the humility to accept that we may have been wrong all along about the nature and timeline of Christ’s priestly ministry in heaven.” However, its nature is derived from Classical Arminianism and its timeline is firstly based on Mortal Soul theology. The timing is discussed in Appendix B and a future article will tackle it in greater detail.

About the Authors:

mike_manea
Mike Manea studied theology at Andrews Theological Seminary and has served the church for over twenty years as youth pastor, missionary, Bible worker and teacher. He is currently a senior partner at Zahid|Manea LLC, a marketing and management consulting firm based in Southern California. He runs several theology and philosophy sites and podcasts and is cofounder of Intelligent Adventist. In his free time he enjoys spending time in nature with his wife and four year old son. You can follow his blog at mikemanea.com



Originally from New Jersey, Marcos now lives in Australia with his wife and children. His dream is to share the story of Jesus with the post-modern culture that pervades the continent. Marcos’ greatest passion is to help others realize that Christianity is a passionate and committed relationship with God, not a religion. He also runs his own blog at pomopastor.com

Making Sense of Adventism: Faith-Journey of an Adventist Blogger

Do you have to be absolutely perfect in order to be saved? Is it wrong to have fun on the Sabbath? How can we say we are saved by grace and also say that those who don’t keep the Sabbath in the last days will be lost? Was Ellen White obsessed with obedience? How do we reconcile the cross of Christ with the doctrine of the Investigative Judgment? What does it mean to be “perfect”? How should Christians relate to Conspiracy Theories? Are Adventists even Christians? What do former or non-Adventists think about God and our church? What exactly is wrong with going to the theater? And what is the right way to worship?

These questions and many others are the subject of Making Sense of Adventism. Having grown up Adventist I acquired lots of different ideas and beliefs that I assumed were part of our identity. In fact, the confusion was so great that had I left Adventism during those years and written a book against the church it would have been entirely inaccurate – that’s how skewed my picture of Adventism was. All of that began to change when I arrived at Southern Adventist University (SAU) for what would be four years of theology school. Those four years were some of the most significant years of my life and it was during that time that I wrote more than 200 blogs and articles that reflected the epiphanies, discoveries, and paradigm shifts that were allowing me, for the first time, to discover the beauty of Adventism and its relevance for the world today. In Making Sense of Adventism I share the most relevant blogs, some of which began to be written long ago as I sat on the cushioned pews of Newark Spanish Seventh-day Adventist church in Newark, NJ. Others began to be written during my time in Hawaii and Iraq as a US Army soldier. And still others began to be written during my time in Australia where I was first exposed to concepts and theologies that would later demand explanations. It wasn’t until years later that they would find themselves onto paper, whether during my personal time or as an assignment for one of my classes at SAU. This is my journey and I share it with you with the hope that the answers I have discovered will help the struggling Adventist make a little more sense out of it all.




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Q&A: Why 1844 Is Perfectly Logical

Q: I would like to see the following statement proved from the Bible only: "Jesus moved from the Holy to the Holy of Holies on Oct. 22, 1844" Please don't refer to any other writings besides the Bible to explain this. I believe that it is cults that use other writings besides the Bible to prove their doctrines (heresies).


A: Great question. First of all let me start out by saying that I can't prove that statement to you. While I am willing to share with you why I believe what I believe there is no way I can prove those beliefs. So I hope that even if we disagree we can at least appreciate one another's faith.

Now I also want to tackle another statement you made.

"Please don't refer to any other writings besides the Bible to explain this. I believe that it is cults that use other writings besides the Bible to prove their doctrines (heresies)."

If this is true then all churches are cults that teach heresy. The reason why is because when we are dealing with apocalyptic literature such as Daniel and Revelation, there is just no way of fully understanding it without using extra-biblical historical resources. Adventists are Historicists in their interpretation of scripture and as such we use extra-biblical historical resources to help us understand the events that the prophecies are delineating. If this approach makes the SDA church a heretical cult then Victorinus, Arnuf of Orleans, Eberhard II (all Catholic) and Martin Luther, John Calvin, Isaac Newton (all protestant) are also heretics for they all followed the Historicists method of interpreting prophecy. In addition, even if you are not a Historicist but are instead a Futurist or a Prederist (the majority of Christendom) you still have to use extra-biblical historical sources to explain the prophecies. So I conclude that when the SDA church uses historical writings and calendars that are extra-biblical in order to arrive at their understanding of 1844 they are simply doing what every body else does and are thus not a cult and not heretical.

What would make us a cult is if, like the Mormons, we relied only on Ellen White or other pioneers such as Uriah Smith in order to teach the 1844 doctrine. But this is not the case. 1844 was understood by William Miller and many others without the help of Ellen White (she hadn't even begun her ministry yet) and the consequent revelations of the sanctuary being in heaven do not necessitate EGW to be understood. In short, SDA's don't need EGW for any of our doctrines. They stand on the Bible alone. In addition, the SDA church does not put EGW next to James, Paul, Peter or any other Biblical writer. We place her beneath them. She did the same when she was alive. While there are some SDA's who treat her as though she was scripture this goes against the church's stance and even against EGW's own position. We consider her writings to be authoritative and inspired but they do not interpret scripture for us, they do not replace scripture for us, and they sure don't have an equal standing with scripture.

Now onto your question. Like I said, I cant prove it but I will simply explain to you why I believe it is true.

Most Christians teach that the judgment took place on the cross. Others teach that it will take place at the second coming. There are numerous NT verses that show the apostles were looking forward to a future judgment. This was after the cross, therefore, biblicaly speaking the judgment did not take place at the cross. Then there are the passages that say that when Jesus comes he comes to award both the righteous and the wicked including those who have not seen death (others teach the judgment happens at death). This shows us that a decision was reached before the second coming. Then there is Revelation 14:6, a message that is pronounced before the second coming and says that the judgment has already begun. Thus, the judgment did not happen at the cross and it will not happen at the second coming but since Jesus comes with rewards it cant happen after the second coming either. So the message is clear, the judgment happens sometime between the cross and the second coming. 1844 happens to between those two events. (see below)

Now that doesnt prove the date per se, in order to come to the actual date October 22, 1844 we would have to interpret Daniels prophecies using the Historicist method of interpretation. To do that would take so long that Im not going to do it here. But at this point Adventists establish the start time of the prophecy which Gabriel gives to Daniel and we count the 2300 years and we arrive at 1844. Using more complex historical sources such as calendars etc. we arrive at the October 22 date. None of this necessitates EGW or any other Adventist pioneer. If you are really interested in reading about the evidence for this then I recommend Clifford Goldsteins "1844 Made Simple" and Marvin Moores "The Case for the Investigative Judgment." Not that they can prove it either, but at least you will be able to see two very well written books on the topic that do not use EGW at all.
Anyways, understanding that the sanctuary of Daniel is the sanctuary in heaven (of course we are not suggesting that there is some building in heaven that looks just like the OT sanctuary)we then conclude through a systematic study of the sanctuary, its type and anti-type etc. that Jesus began his final work of cleansing the sanctuary in 1844. If you want to read my views on the theology of the Investigative Judgment then I recommend my paper (The Investigative Judgment)...

Honestly K, I am not a stickler on October 22, 1844. While I agree its the best interpretation of the time line I don't get hung up on it. The judgment could have begun in 1922 for all I care. The date doesn't change the theology of the judgment at all. The point is that God is now doing his final work on behalf of man, he is trying to get as many people into heaven before time runs out for us, and Jesus is coming soon.
Did Jesus Complete the Atonement on the Cross?
photo credit: Christopher JL via photopin cc
Some have charged the SDA church with teaching that the atonement was not finished at the cross. Below is an edited excerpt from the article REclaiming Adventism (A Response to the Testimony of former Adventist Eliana Matthews) that briefly deals with this issue:

From the book Seventh-Day Adventists Believe, put forth by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. 
On the cross the penalty for human sin was fully paid. Divine justice was satisfied. From a legal perspective the world was restored to favor with God (Rom. 5:18). The atonement, or reconciliation, was completed on the cross as foreshadowed by the sacrifices, and the penitent believer can trust in this finished work of our Lord. – 350
From Ellen White
[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}.
Our great High Priest completed the sacrificial offering of Himself when He suffered without the gate. Then a perfect atonement was made for the sins of the people {7BC 913.3}.
Christ’s sacrifice in behalf of man was full and complete. The condition of the atonement had been fulfilled. The work for which He had come to this world had been accomplished {AA 29.2}.
The Lord would have His people sound in the faith—not ignorant of the great salvation so abundantly provided for them. They are not to look forward, thinking that at some future time a great work is to be done for them; for the work is now complete {1SM 394.3}.
Comment:

Clearly, the charge that Adventists teach an unfinished atonement at the cross is false. But aren't there other quotes and sources that suggest that Adventists believe the atonement was not completed on the cross? Yes. Then are we contradicting ourselves? No. Allow me to explain.


The real issue here is one of semantics. SDA theology places a wider definition on the word atonement than do other Christians. For most Christians the word atonement means the work of Christ on the cross. For Adventists, the word atonement means two things: the atonement of the cross, and the final atonement. The atonement of the cross is what Jesus did for us in offering salvation. That is complete. But the final atonement involves, among many things, the second coming of Jesus, the final destruction of the wicked, and the establishment of the New Jerusalem. Thus by final atonement, we mean that God is going to bring the entire universe into perfect harmony as it was before sin began. Since Jesus' death on the cross did not bring the universe into perfect harmony we can say that the atonement is not complete. However, when speaking of the atonement in the sense of salvation it is 100% complete. Therefore, it is not a denial of the cross to say that Jesus is doing a work of atonement in heaven. The best way to summarize the SDA understanding is this way: The sacrificial atonement was provided in full on the cross of Calvary. Nothing needs to be added to it. It was perfect. The atonement taking place in heaven is simply Christ applying the benefits of the cross to our individual lives. He is not adding to it. It is perfect and complete and when we come to him we can rest assured that everything needed for our salvation is found, not in ourselves, but in Christ. Then, at the end of time God will complete the other phase of the atonement which has nothing to do with the death of Christ, but with the complete restoration of the universe.

From:  REclaiming Adventism (A Response to the Testimony of former Adventist Eliana Matthews), edited.
3 Most Common Questions About the Investigative Judgment


Does the Investigative Judgment destroy the assurance of salvation?
The short answer is no. The Investigative Judgment in no way contradicts righteousness by faith, salvation through grace, or assurance of salvation. As with any other doctrine it has been abused and misrepresented by many Adventist preachers and their critics but the doctrine itself is far from legalistic. "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."[1] Critics continue to charge the doctrine as inherently legalistic but if you just study it for yourself you will see that it is actually one of the strongest deterrents for legalism and, of all doctrines, one that upholds the finished work of Jesus at the cross like none other. Here are some links of mine that expand on this:


The Pre-Advent Judgment and Righteousness by Faith (Assurance of Salvation)

What Does it Mean to be Judged?

The Urgent Implications of the Pre-Advent Judgment

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

If Jesus finished the work of atonement at the cross what is the point of him doing something in heaven for us now?
"The issue here is one of semantics. SDA theology places a wider definition on the word atonement than do other Christians... Therefore, it is not a denial of the cross to say that Jesus is doing a work of atonement in heaven. The best way to summarize the SDA understanding is this way: The sacrificial atonement was provided in full on the cross of Calvary. Nothing needs to be added to it. It was perfect. The atonement taking place in heaven is simply Christ applying the benefits of the cross to our individual lives. He is not adding to it. It is perfect and complete and when we come to him we can rest assured that everything needed for our salvation is found, not in ourselves, but in Christ."[2] Here are some posts I have written that can be of help with this question:


Did Jesus Complete the Atonement on the Cross?

Did Christ's Ministry End at the Cross?

REclaiming Adventism (A Response to the Testimony of former Adventist Eliana Matthews)

Why Does God "Need" to Investigate?
Many critics charge that God has no need to judge because he already knows who the saved are. This is true, but then why is there a judgment in Revelation 20? This final judgment is a judgment on the wicked. Why would God have to judge the wicked if he already knows who the wicked are? John also says that the wicked “were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books” (12). Why would God judge the wicked out of the books when he already knows who is lost? Does he need to refresh his memory by reading a book? Not only that but John goes as far as to say that “Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire” (15). Did God need to look at a book to make sure he was throwing the right people into the lake of fire? Obviously not. The judgment was not for Gods benefit but for the saved to look through the books and see Gods justice against the wicked for themselves. Likewise, the Investigative Judgment is for the benefit of angels to see Gods justice on behalf of the saints. Here are some other blogs I have posted on this question:


Benefit for Angels

Benefit for Man

Character of God



To explore the Investigative Judgment doctrine in more depth click here.
_____
[1] Torres, Marcos D. The Pre-Advent Judgment and Righteousness by Faith (Assurance of Salvation), [www.jesusadventismandi.com].
[2] Torres, Marcos D. REclaiming Adventism (A Response to the Testimony of former Adventist Eliana Matthews), [item # 2, www.jesusadventismandi.com].
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. 
REclaiming Adventism (A Response to the Testimony of former Adventist Eliana Matthews)

Note: This article is now available for download as a PDF eBook here.

Most of you are probably wondering why I would be sharing a video that basically denounces Seventh-day Adventism (by the way, if you haven't watched the video then stop right now and do so. Ms. Matthews testimony is crucial to grasping the issues I deal with in this article). Perhaps this is an attempt at defending my church and I am now going to embark on an apologetic vindication of Adventism. However, while I am going to clarify many things I am not interested in debating Ms. Matthews. Frankly, I am not even attempting to get her to reconsider leaving Adventism. In my opinion, her spiritual life has suffered enough in Adventism and I think it is best if she remains where she is and just follows Jesus.

Likewise, strange as it may sound, I am actually on her side. Everything stated in this video is true. Everything she was taught is true. She did not make it up or “misunderstand” the true teachings of the church. In order for her to “misunderstand” our true teachings she would first have to be exposed to them. Her summary of beliefs as stated in this video leads me to believe that Ms. Matthews never was exposed to true Adventism.

Adventism has more than one school of thought. Some of these schools of thought are actually fringe groups such as the Anti-Trinitarians, the Historic Seventh-day Adventists, the Branch Davidians/ Shepherds Rod, and the Reformed Seventh-day Adventists. Each of these groups is characterized by their separation from the mainstream SDA church and by marked differences in our theology. However, there are other schools of thought in the SDA church that are not always considered “fringe” and are found within the mainstream SDA church. These are known as the 1888er's (a nick name for those who subscribe to the theology of the 1888 Message Study Committee), the Last Generation Theology camp (the Andreasens), the Maxwellians, the Sequerians, and several others. These theological camps are alive and well within the SDA church and their influence can be felt in our academic world as well as in our churches.

While all of these groups teach wonderful truths (even the fringe groups) none of them teach true Seventh-day Adventism (although some come closer than others). In my experience I have found that of all of these camps the most influential and widespread in the mainstream church is the Last Generation Theology Camp (the Andreasens). This theological camp is one whose primary focus tend to be topics such as the human nature of Christ, perfectionism at the close of probation, victory over sin and the 144,000. It is these camps that are most common in the conservative wing of the church. Because of this, it comes as no surprise to me that Ms. Matthews could go to church school, get A’s in all of her Bible classes, and have her own pastor commend her theological knowledge while simultaneously never understanding true Adventism.


Just last summer I spoke to two young men. One raised in SDA school all of his life. The other raised in an SDA home and currently a student in an SDA university. Neither one of them understood the gospel. The one raised in SDA schools told me that heaven is attained by doing the best you can and hoping it was good enough and the other confided that he lived with a perpetual state of anxiety over whether or not he was good enough to go to heaven. It is because of this that I am not surprised by Ms. Matthew’s version of SDA theology even though she went to SDA schools all her life. Quite possibly her teachers, parents, and spiritual leaders were heavily influenced by the theological camps I mentioned above. As a matter of fact, Ms. Matthews’s description of SDA theology shows her to have been more of a Seventh-day Andreasen (more on this later) than a Seventh-day Adventist – a common phenomenon.[i]

I will not here seek to denounce these groups I have mentioned. There are wonderful, godly, loving people in each of these camps. Quite often, many of them do not experience anxiety over their salvation and many are not necessarily “legalistic.” This is often because many of them do not understand the true implications of their own theology. However, when they communicate this theology to others who carry it to its logical conclusions the damage done can be immeasurable. In his book I Used to be Perfect, Adventist historian George R. Knight tells how, after his conversion, he was approached by a zealous group of Adventists (quite possibly from one of these camps) who shared an Ellen White quote with him which he understood to mean he had to be perfect or else Jesus wouldn’t return. He made an oath to be the first perfect Christian since Christ and failed so miserably he turned his back on God for years. Martin Webber, retired SDA pastor, shares a similar story in his auto-biography My Tortured Conscience. I too share these experiences. There was a time when I feared the investigative judgment, had no assurance of salvation, and thought that I lost my salvation every time I sinned, no matter how small, until I confessed and repented. My wife Candice nearly ended up in a mental institution after reading the Ellen White book Messages to Young People through the eyes of a false gospel. So understand that as I respond to Ms. Matthew’s video I do so from a position of one who wholeheartedly understands the struggle, the pain, the anxiety, the depression, and the dark cloud of hopelessness that overwhelms you when you realize "I’m never going to be good enough." I have lived those days of anger at God for placing such “heavy burdens” on me that I couldn’t carry. Those were days of sheer exhaustion, of crushing guilt and shame and I have come within inches of leaving this church behind. Even today I must daily fight against the tendency toward legalism. There is a pharisee alive within me and only the constant reminder of the grace of God can keep him under control. So as I write, I do not do so as a theologian or as a patriotic Adventist eager to defend the “remnant church.” As I write, I do so as one who has "been there and done that."



A Bit of SDA History

When Adventism was born a large portion of North Americans were already Christians. Because of this, Adventist evangelists focused almost exclusively on the unique doctrinal teachings of the church. Since most of their audience were Christians who already understood the gospel, the gospel was left out of many Adventist discourses. Over time the church came to lose sight of the gospel completely and plunged into legalism. In 1888 the message of grace was re-introduced to Adventists. This re-introduction was supported by Ellen White but rejected by many, including some SDA leaders. In short, it was the saddest chapter in SDA history. The legalism continued. In the 1950's a series of discussions began between Adventist leaders and evangelicals who wanted to know, from the horse’s mouth, what Adventists really believed. The discussion was published in a book known as Questions on Doctrine (QOD). At this point an influential SDA theologian named M.L. Andreasen reacted against the SDA leadership (as any in his position would have done). According to Andreasen, the book Questions on Doctrine was a departure from orthodox SDA theology. Andreasen especially combated two aspects of the book, 1) how it dealt with the human nature of Christ and, 2) how it dealt with the atonement. Although Andreasen also attacked other points put forth in the book these were his main contentions. Due to lack of space and time I cannot enter into the specifics of this controversy here, but for those who would like to know more I recommend the books Questions On Doctrine Revisited! by Leroy Moore and the annotated edition of Questions on Doctrine. Suffice to say that Andreasens charges, with exception to the human nature of Christ (which I will not deal with here), were mostly misunderstandings that led to confusion (the QOD authors weren't innocent either). During this time Andreasen came to develop what would become one of the most influential theological schools of thought in Adventism - “Last Generation Theology (LGT).” So what is LGT? Here is a summary:
1. We are born with tendencies to evil.
2. We are lost because of our own choice to rebel.
3. God takes the initiative to save us. We cannot earn salvation.
4. Christ reproduces his character in us (sanctification).
5. Obedience is both a condition for salvation and an ongoing requirement of salvation.
6. Jesus came in the fallen nature of Adam and was like fallen man in every way.
7. Jesus was tempted from without and from within.
8. The atonement was not completed at the cross, it is being completed now in the investigative judgment.
9. The sanctuary cannot be cleansed until Gods people have become sinlessly perfect.
10. Jesus cannot return until we arrive at a state of sinless perfection.
11. The Last Generation will defeat Satan (he was not fully defeated on the cross) and exonerate Gods character by becoming sinlessly perfect thus proving once and for all that Gods law can be kept and that it is possible to live without sinning.
12. We must ultimately reach a point of sinless perfection in order to stand in the sight of God without an intercessor after probation closes. (for more on Last Generation Theology you can visit 
http://www.lastgenerationtheology.org)
At this point I must say that analyzing anyone's theology is a horrendous game. I have read debates between theologians who constantly accuse the opponent of misrepresenting and misunderstanding what they really teach. No doubt, as faulty humans that is a possibility. Thus, "exposing" LGT is not my main burden. My main burden is in demonstrating the differences between LGT and mainstream Adventism. In the meantime I will show how, at least in my estimation (and the estimation of numerous other SDA theologians), LGT does in fact lend itself toward legalism. While many LGT proponents attempt to reconcile LGT with the gospel by restating it in grace language at the end of the day such a theology inevitably breeds a focus on ones own performance. I once believed in LGT. While I was blessed by much of what I heard and learned there was an ever present sensation that something was missing. The best way I can explain the way I understood salvation is with the following formula.

What Jesus did + What I Do = Salvation

And of course, I would make myself feel better by adding the following element:


What Jesus did + What I Do (by Gods grace of course) = Salvation

In my blog post "Jesus Only" I shared that adding the "by his grace" element really does not make much of a difference for "[e]ither way.... [t]he basic idea remains the same: 'I must add something to what Jesus did in order to either be or remain saved.'" The only difference is that the adding is now done in his power instead of mine. However, this version of the gospel is more Catholic and Mormon than it is Adventist.

Now, please understand, not everything taught in LGT is necessarily false, but taken as a whole LGT culminates in a self-focused experience that breeds insecurity, legalism, and anxiety for many who adopt its teachings. This is the case even though LGT maintains that works are non-meritorious. Those who do not experience this seem to be the exception and not the norm. Such an experience may not be the intention of its teachers, who are sincerely longing to lead others to a closer walk with Jesus and out of the Laodecian lukewarmness so prevalent in Adventism today. However, such an experience certainly seems to be the logical outworking of this system of theology. The SDA church does not accept LGT, however, LGT seems to be the most popular lens through which the majority of conservative Adventists view the gospel. This is due to the fact that Andreasen was one of the most influential SDA theologians in the 1940's. Because Adventists already tended toward legalism his views came to be embraced by everyone who believed his claims of conspiracy among the church leadership to undermine true SDA theology. Thus, from that moment on a huge divide took place in the SDA church. Many followed Andreasen as though his teachings represented the true, orthodox, historic theology of the pioneers while others rejected his teachings. To this day, I would say that the mainstream SDA church is primarily split into two camps: 1) the Andreasens and 2) everybody else.

Ms. Matthews was an Andreasen she just didn’t know it. Indeed, a large portion of Andreasens have no idea that they are.[ii] This is partly due to Andreasens influence over conservative Adventism, partly due to other influential conservative SDA teachers perpetuating his theology (an in many instances exaggerating and or misrepresenting it), and partly due to their heavy use of select Ellen White quotes that seem to support their cause. Because many SDA’s believe whatever Ellen White believed without investigating for themselves LGT goes uncontested by many who assume the theology originated with her.



Responding to Ms. Matthews

Now that I have established a bit of background I can move forward with my response to Ms. Matthews’s video. From this point on I will numerate each of Ms. Matthews’s points and comment on them. Keep in mind that these are not all necessarily points she made verbatim but they are all points she mentioned in one way or another. I will respond by using the Bible, official SDA statements of faith, statements made by SDA theologians, the writings of Ellen White and others. While SDA theology is not built upon Ellen White but upon the Bible, she is still considered an authoritative source of truth and her theological insights will help shed much light on true Adventism. During the process I will help distinguish, whenever necessary, between true Adventism and Andreasenism. All italics are supplied for emphasis.

1. Ms. Matthews states she had no assurance of salvation.

From the book Seventh-Day Adventists Believe, put forth by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

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
From Ellen White
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}.
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}.  
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}.
Notes: Lack of assurance seems to be a classic symptom of LGT. Again, not every LGT proponent experiences this, but those who carry the theology to its logical conclusion do. While LGT proponents will never say that we are saved by works and would just as readily denounce legalism the experience of many in this camp proves that the theology is inherently legalistic. If this is not the case then the only other assumption I can arrive at is that the teachers of LGT are not emphasizing the righteousness of Christ enough and unwittingly pointing many of their adherents in a direction they themselves do not intend to go. 

Allow me to deal with another issue. There is one statement in which Ellen White says that Christians should "never be taught to say that they are saved." However, this is not in the context of assurance of salvation but in the context of self-confidence. Ellen White was warning that we should never come to a place in our Christian experience where we feel like we are so “saved” that we no longer need Christ. Sadly, although Andreasen himself may never have gone this far, some LGT proponents have come to believe that there will be a last generation that will essentially be holy enough to stand without the interceding, saving grace of Christ.

2. Jesus is not finished with the atonement.

From the book Seventh-Day Adventists Believe, put forth by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

On the cross the penalty for human sin was fully paid. Divine justice was satisfied. From a legal perspective the world was restored to favor with God (Rom. 5:18). The atonement, or reconciliation, was completed on the cross as foreshadowed by the sacrifices, and the penitent believer can trust in this finished work of our Lord. – 350
From the Bible
We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all – Heb.10:10
From Ellen White
[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}.
Our great High Priest completed the sacrificial offering of Himself when He suffered without the gate. Then a perfect atonement was made for the sins of the people {7BC 913.3}.
Christ’s sacrifice in behalf of man was full and complete. The condition of the atonement had been fulfilled. The work for which He had come to this world had been accomplished {AA 29.2}.
The Lord would have His people sound in the faith—not ignorant of the great salvation so abundantly provided for them. They are not to look forward, thinking that at some future time a great work is to be done for them; for the work is now complete {1SM 394.3}.
Notes:

The idea that Jesus is not finished with the atonement is a classic Andreasen charge against QOD. This concept plays a big role in Andreasens LGT. Strangely enough, Andreasen also believed in a finished atonement at the cross. It seems that either his theology evolved to some degree during the QOD conflict or this was the time in which he fully unveiled his theological views. However, doesn’t the investigative judgment teach that Jesus is making atonement for us in heaven right now? Yes. However, the issue here is one of semantics. SDA theology places a wider definition on the word atonement than do other Christians (I wont go into that here). Therefore, it is not a denial of the cross to say that Jesus is doing a work of atonement in heaven. The best way to summarize the SDA understanding is this way: The sacrificial atonement was provided in full on the cross of Calvary. Nothing needs to be added to it. It was perfect. The atonement taking place in heaven is simply Christ applying the benefits of the cross to our individual lives. He is not adding to it. It is perfect and complete and when we come to him we can rest assured that everything needed for our salvation is found, not in ourselves, but in Christ.

3. Seventh-day Adventists' claim to be the “remnant” church is tantamount to elitism.

From the official doctrinal statement of the Seventh-day Adventist church.

Fundamental Belief #13 – Remnant and its Mission: The universal church is composed of all who truly believe in Christ, but in the last days, a time of widespread apostasy, a remnant has been called out to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
From the book Seventh-Day Adventists Believe, put forth by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
God has his children in all churches, but through the remnant church He proclaims a message that is to restore His true worship by calling His people out of the apostasy and preparing them for Christs return. - ?
From the Bible
And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. - Revelation 18:4
From Ellen White
Our ministers should seek to come near to the ministers of other denominations. Pray for and with these men, for whom Christ is interceding. A solemn responsibility is theirs. As Christ’s messengers, we should manifest a deep, earnest interest in these shepherds of the flock {6TM 78}.
The spirit has been entertained which presumes to limit the Holy One in the judicial working of His grace. In the place of coming close to those for whom the Lord has seen fit to work, men have stood apart, saying, “I am holier than thou. I cannot connect with you in religious service. Your ways and my ways do not agree” {RH January 7, 1902, Art. A, par. 17}.
It should ever be manifest that we are reformers, but not bigots. When our laborers enter a new field, they should seek to become acquainted with the pastors of the several churches in the place. Much has been lost by neglecting to do this. If our ministers show themselves friendly and sociable, and do not act as if they were ashamed of the message they bear, it will have an excellent effect, and may give these pastors and their congregations favorable impressions of the truth....
Our laborers should be very careful not to give the impression that they are wolves stealing in to get the sheep, but should let the ministers understand their position and the object of their mission—to call the attention of the people to the truths of God’s Word. There are many of these which are dear to all Christians. Here is common ground, upon which we can meet people of other denominations; and in becoming acquainted with them we should dwell mostly upon topics in which all feel an interest, and which will not lead directly and pointedly to the subjects of disagreement.—The Review and Herald, June 13, 1912 {Ev 143.5}.

From Martin Webbers article "How Adventists are blessed by other Christians".
…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 [the leading Sunday preacher of the day] 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…. 
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. 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. www.sdaforme.com
Notes: The SDA church does not claim to be the only church in which Gods spirit dwells. It does not claim that non-SDA’s are false Christians who will not be saved. Neither does it claim that non-SDA's don't know anything as Ms. Matthews expressed. The SDA church affirms that God's people are everywhere and in every denomination. By Remnant church the SDA church teaches that it carries God's last day message to this world and that it is his visible remnant church. Some would respond saying that this is nothing but denominational arrogance, however, if that were the case then every denomination would be guilty of arrogance. While not all denominations claim to be the remnant church no denomination claims to be a false church. Because theological pluralism is un-biblical every denomination then, whether actively or passively, claims to be the true church. For the SDA church to claim actively what every other church claims passively is not arrogance, it is conviction.

In addition, SDA's affirm, support, and embrace all denominations. We read, quote, share and even sell books written by a variety of non-Adventist authors. As an SDA many of my favorite preachers are not even Adventist but evangelical (Billy Graham, Francis Chan, Greg Laurie, Kyle Idleman, Ravi Zacharias, and Louie Gigglio). While I do not agree with everything they say, I still value their authentic spirituality and wisdom. Were the SDA church a cult any outside influence, especially from theologians, would be rejected by the organization. However, the opposite is true.

The purpose of the remnant then is not to be an exclusivistic organization of elite Christians that alone comprise Gods church but to be the church which proclaims Gods special message to His people and the world in the last days. The true and final remnant will not be seen until the very end of time when decisions for or against Christ have been finalized, but the SDA church affirms that in a time of widespread apostasy within Christendom it has, as a movement and visible organization, been entrusted with the remnant message. It is the visible remnant. (Ellen White used the terms "church militant" to describe the visible remnant, and "church triumphant" to describe the invisible remnant).


Part of the QOD conflict was a conspiracy theory by Andreasen that the church leaders were purposely undermining Adventist theology in order to gain evangelical approval. Thus, a strong anti-evangelical (or anti-anything-that-is-not-Adventist) sentiment exists among many (though not all) LGT proponents. But this is not the sentiment of the mainstream SDA church.

4. We need to reach a state of sinless perfection before the close of probation when we will have to stand in the sight of God without a mediator.

There are no statements regarding this issue in the book Seventh-Day Adventists Believe or in the doctrinal statements of the Seventh-day Adventist church. That is because sinless perfection before the close of probation is not a doctrine of the SDA church. However, the following statements on the topic of perfection from the book Seventh-Day Adventists Believe show that the doctrine of sinless perfectionism is not compatible with true SDA theology.

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
From Ellen White
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}.
As we have clearer views of Christ’s spotless and infinite purity, we shall feel as did Daniel, when he beheld the glory of the Lord, and said, “My comeliness was turned in me into corruption.” We cannot say, “I am sinless,” till this vile body is changed and fashioned like unto His glorious body. But if we constantly seek to follow Jesus, the blessed hope is ours of standing before the throne of God without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; complete in Christ, robed in his righteousness and perfection {ST March 23, 1888, par. 13}.
Every case is decided either for salvation or destruction {EW, 36}.
The destiny of all will have been decided for life or death {GC, 490}.
Notes: The last two Ellen White quotes make it clear that when probation closes those who are saved are saved and those who are lost are lost. Those who are in Christ when probation closes don’t need to worry if they will be “perfect” enough after probation because they are already saved and at this point in human history no one else can be saved or lost. It’s done. If that’s the case, then why entertain anxiety over what my behavior will be like after the close of probation? 

This close of probation sinless perfectionism is actually a classic teaching of LGT. M. L. Andreasen taught it in the chapter “The Last Generation” in his book The Sanctuary Service (although some LGT proponents take it much further then Andreasen himself did). He arrived at this conclusion by affirming two teachings that Adventism denies 1) that Jesus had a fallen nature like all the sons of Adam and 2) that the atonement was not completed at the cross. While Adventists believe that Jesus had a fallen physical nature we do not believe he had a fallen moral nature and as stated above, we believe that the atonement was finished on the cross and that the atonement taking place now is an application of the benefits of the cross – not an “improvement plan” upon the work of Calvary. While Ellen White speaks of “standing before a holy God without a mediator” after the close of probation the context shows that without a mediator or intercessor means that God will no longer intercede to restrain the wicked. Therefore, Gods people will have to live through a time when Satan has full control of the wicked human race. But this idea that after probation we need to be good enough to stand without the grace and mercy of God is heresy and certainly not Adventist theology. It is with this context in mind that Adventist lay evangelist Keavin Hayden could write,
The heresy that we must become absolutely perfect, matching the perfection of Christs character, is a soul-destroying device. It will either lead us to give up on the work of sanctification from discouragement, or cause us ultimately to deceive ourselves in believing the lie that we can become perfectly sinless in this lifetime (Surviving the Shaking p. 58).
However, it would be disingenuous to assert that Ellen White did not believe in perfection. She most certainly did as do Seventh-day Adventists. However, we must distinguish between perfection and sinless perfectionism. At first the difference seems non-existent, however, it will soon be clear where the line of demarcation lies. Perfection, according to Ellen White, is not "sinless perfectionism" but perfection in love (referred to as character perfection). This concept of perfection in love is not only scriptural (Mat. 5:48; Jas. 1:4; 1Joh. 2:5, 4:12, 4:18; Phil. 2:15; Col. 3:14 etc.) but it forms the basis of John Wesley's doctrine of perfection which influenced Ellen White (she was a Methodist). Below is a quote from Wikipedia on the doctrine of Christian perfection as taught by John Wesley:
Christian perfection, according to Wesley, is “purity of intention, dedicating all the life to God” and “the mind which was in Christ, enabling us to walk as Christ walked.” It is "loving God with all our heart, and our neighbor as ourselves".[3] It is “a restoration not only to the favor, but likewise to the image of God,” our “being filled with the fullness of God.”[4] 
Wesley was clear that Christian perfection did not imply perfection of bodily health or an infallibility of judgment. It also does not mean one no longer violates the will of God, for involuntary transgressions remain. Perfected Christians remain subject to temptation, and have continued need to pray for forgiveness and holiness. It is not an absolute perfection but a perfection in love. Furthermore, Wesley did not teach a salvation by perfection, but rather says that, “Even perfect holiness is acceptable to God only through Jesus Christ.”[5] 
Wesley did not use perfection to describe sinlessness. Similarly, perfection is not the state of being unable to sin, but rather the state of choosing not to sin. Wesley's perfection represents a change of life, a freedom from willful rebellion against God, impure intentions, and pride. [Rest of the article and bibliography]. - Wikipedia
Not only are Ellen White and the Seventh-day Adventist church in good company when it comes to the doctrine of Christian perfection, but Ellen Whites writings also reveal that the core of that perfection is not a self-focus on overcoming sin in order to be worthy of heaven but a complete surrender to Christ that allows his love to be perfected in us and through us.[iii] Indeed, if all of Christendom strove for that kind of perfection, the one received only by beholding Jesus and letting go of self, Christianity would have enveloped the world long ago. It is our claim of allegiance to Jesus contrasted by our perpetual state of selfishness and lovelessness that has the world mocking us. 

However, once again, while we are to strive for perfection in love and not simply claim it we must never assume that gaining that perfection is the basis for our salvation. Here is where LGT differs from Wesley, White, and the SDA church. Thus, in his book Questions on Doctrine Revisited! Leroy Moore could write,
While final generation perfection is present truth, failure to grasp its paradoxical principles creates very serious problems. Many assume they must become perfect to be saved - at least in the very end, when we must stand without an intercessor. Indeed, some think we must be perfect enough to live without the Spirit in the time of trouble. Both ideas fly in the face of the entire Scripture. Such serious misconceptions suggest a false basis for salvation (263).
And in his article "How Perfect Is "Perfect" or Is Christian Perfection Possible?" the late Adventist minister Edward Heppenstall,  could state,
Salvation by grace alone means that absolute perfection and sinlessness cannot be realized here and now. Righteousness by faith means that we look continually and exclusively to Christ; that we look away from ourselves and any hope in ourselves altogether in order to live out of Him alone. Genuine salvation directs us at once to Christ, to the only perfect life lived here on the earth, and to His redemption through the Cross. What is absolutely central is Jesus Christ. Man's victory over sin is exclusively the work of God in Christ, the continual control of the life by the Holy Spirit; that through daily union with Christ we actually participate in Christ's holy life (Biblical Research Institute, adventistbiblicalresearch.org [Click here for article]).
5. I must remember and confess every sin or else God will bring it against me in the judgment.

This is yet another doctrine not found anywhere in official SDA statements of beliefs. However the following statements from the book Seventh-Day Adventists Believe show that such a belief is not compatible with true SDA theology.

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
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
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
From Ellen White
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}.
Notes: I cannot say with certainty that the “confess every sin or else” theology is a teaching of LGT, however, I do believe that it fits perfectly into the LGT paradigm. If I am to be perfect before probation closes and Jesus returns then I better confess and repent of all of my sins! This teaching removes Christ as savior and places me and my ability to remember and confess every known sin as the real savior. Anxiety is the result. Assurance is removed from the soul and an agonizing darkness takes over. The believer now finds no rest. The mind works to alleviate the stress and begins, almost without conscious effort, to explore the memory banks for any sin that has not been confessed. Then follows the logical conclusion to such a belief. It is called the "light switch version of the gospel" and it basically means this: Every time you sin you lose your salvation until you confess, then you get it back until you sin again and so on and so forth. It’s as if God is standing in heaven with his hand on a light switch. Every time you sin, off goes the light and when you confess, on it goes. I used to believe this teaching and as a result I developed Generalized Anxiety Disorder and experienced damage to my emotional health (thankfully the Lord has brought healing to my life although I still experience the effects from time to time. In this sense I relate to Ms. Matthews comment on "Adventist chains"). Does that sound like the fruit of the gospel of peace to you? No way. Any teaching that contradicts "Jesus only" is heresy, plain and simple.

6. If I don’t keep the Sabbath I will lose my salvation.

From the book Seventh-Day Adventists Believe, put forth by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

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
From the Bible
But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. – Romans 3:21-24
From Ellen White
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 {1SM 388.1}.
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}.
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}.
Notes: The “I must be obedient or else I will lose my salvation” is a What Jesus did + What I do = Salvation theology. While an LGT proponent would never make such a statement they most certainly believe it. When I believed in LGT I was never truly at rest. There was always something to do. However, the truth is no one has to keep the Sabbath in order to stay saved. We keep it because we are saved. We are Gods people and as such we live according to his will. If it is his will that we keep the Sabbath we do so, not out of fear of losing salvation, but out of love. As Jesus said, “if you love me keep my commandments" (John 14:15). Imagine if I told my wife that the only reason why I am faithful to her is because I am afraid she will divorce me if I’m not. Would she be happy? Not at all. I am faithful, not from fear of divorce, but because I love her. The same goes with obedience to God. It doesn’t give us any extra kudos with God but we do it because we are born again from above and have a new desire to obey God in whatever he asks us to do. That is far from legalism. Thus, in his book Surviving the Shaking Keavin Hayden could state, 
Israel had so focused on obeying the law that they missed Christ, the one whom the schoolmaster (the law) was trying to lead them to. That is why they were in such a hurry that crucifixion Friday to kill the Lord of the Sabbath. They needed to make sure they were home in time to avoid breaking the Sabbath commandment. Their observance of the law was of more importance to them than their total reliance on the substitutionary record of the only One who could keep the law perfectly in their behalf (30). 
I have no burden to argue for the validity of the Sabbath under the new covenant in this post, but suffice to say that keeping it today is no more legalistic than keeping any of the other commandments (which every Christian does with exception to the 3rd).

7. Romans and Galatians contradict Adventist theology.

From the official doctrinal statement of the Seventh-day Adventist church.

In infinite love and mercy God made Christ, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, so that in Him we might be made the righteousness of God. Led by the Holy Spirit we sense our need, acknowledge our sinfulness, repent of our transgressions, and exercise faith in Jesus as Lord and Christ, as Substitute and Example. This faith which receives salvation comes through the divine power of the Word and is the gift of God's grace. Through Christ we are justified, adopted as God's sons and daughters, and delivered from the lordship of sin. Through the Spirit we are born again and sanctified; the Spirit renews our minds, writes God's law of love in our hearts, and we are given the power to live a holy life. Abiding in Him we become partakers of the divine nature and have the assurance of salvation now and in the judgment.
From the book Seventh-Day Adventists Believe, put forth by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
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
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
From Ellen White
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}.
Notes: The books of Romans and Galatians are certainly in contradiction of the perfectionism inherent in LGT but they are not in contradiction to the official SDA understanding of the gospel. These books were also in contradiction of the commonly accepted view of the gospel within Adventism prior to the 1888 General Conference in which God brought the message of Christ’s righteousness back to the Adventist church. The message was rejected by many and to this day has not been fully accepted by every Seventh-day Adventist as can be witnessed by Ms. Matthews experience. However the SDA church fully embraces the gospel of Jesus Christ as did Ellen White.

8. Adventism’s sketchy history with the divinity of Christ.

From the official doctrinal statement of the Seventh-day Adventist church.

God the eternal Son became incarnate in Jesus Christ. Through Him all things were created…. Forever truly God, He became also truly man, Jesus the Christ.
From Ellen White
…the life of Christ was unborrowed. No one can take this life from Him. "I lay it down of Myself." (John 10:18), He said. In Him was life, original, unborrowed, underived {1SM 296}.
He is the eternal self-existent Son {Ev 615}.
But while God‘s Word speaks of the humanity of Christ when upon this earth, it also speaks decidedly regarding His pre-existence. The Word existed as a divine being, even as the eternal Son of God, in union and oneness with His Father {1SM 247}.
Christ is the pre-existent, self-existent Son of God. . . . In speaking of his pre-existence, Christ carries the mind back through dateless ages. He assures us that there never was a time when he was not in close fellowship with the eternal God {Ev 615}.
Notes: The above Ellen White quotes show beyond a shadow of a doubt that she was anything but silent on this topic. For Ellen White the divinity of Christ was very important and, unlike Ms. Matthews assertion, she was very clear about where she stood. What about the other pioneers that rejected the divinity of Christ? When the SDA church was born it was comprised of Christians from many different backgrounds. Some were Arians, of that there is no doubt. However, the views of SDA pioneers on the divinity of Christ is irrelevant because the church does not share their views. What about the whole “Jesus is Michael the Archangel” theology? Frankly, I have no burden to defend this concept here. If you are interested in reading why we believe this and how we can reconcile such a belief while simultaneously believing that Jesus is the uncreated, eternal God I recommend the following article I authored (footnotes and all): Who Is Michael The Archangel?

I must also add that the issue of Christ’s divinity has nothing to do with LGT or Andreasen. The LGT camp believes and teaches the eternal pre-existence of Christ as fully as does the whole of Protestantism. The only aspect of Christology in which LGT differs from the SDA church and Ellen White is in regards to the human nature of Christ.

9. Scapegoat as Satan or Jesus?

From the book Seventh-Day Adventists Believe, put forth by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

In no way can it be said that Satan atones for the sins of the believers – Chris has fully done that. - 406
From the book A Response to the Video: Seventh-day Adventism – The Spirit Behind the Church
Though the term “sin-bearer” appears in Mrs. White’s published and released writings at least 186 times, she not once said that Satan is our “sin-bearer.” She consistently taught that Christ is our “only sin-bearer.” – 125
Placing sins upon the scapegoat after the atonement is over has nothing to do with our salvation. It has everything to do with the punishment of the great rebel who has caused so much misery on planet earth. - 127
From the Bible
When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat. He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the wilderness in the care of someone appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a remote place; and the man shall release it in the wilderness. – Leviticus 16:20-22 [Note: Notice that the goat for Azazel is sent out after the high priest “has finished making the atonement.” In addition, the goat for Azazel is not a sacrifice. Its blood is not spilled and “without the shedding of blood there can be no atonement for sin (Heb. 9:22).” Thus, the goat for Azazel has nothing to do with forgiveness, reconciliation, pardon, or substitution.]
From Ellen White
In His intercession as our advocate, Christ needs no man’s virtue, no man’s intercession. He is the only sin-bearer, the only sin-offering. {ST June 28, 1899, par. 3}
How hard poor mortals strive to be sin-bearers for themselves and for others! but the only sin-bearer is Jesus Christ. He alone can be my substitute and sin-bearer. The forerunner of Christ exclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” {RH June 9, 1896, par. 2}.
Proclaim remission of sins through Christ, the only sin-bearer, the only sin-pardoner. Proclaim the remission of sins through repentance toward God and faith in Christ, and God will ratify your testimony {10MR 290.3}.
Notes: Seventh-day Adventists do not believe that Satan has anything to do with our salvation at all. The concept of the scapegoat can be summarized in this paragraph: At the end of time Christ removes the confessed sins of his people from the sanctuary. The work of salvation is already complete. The saved are already in heaven at this time. There is no further sacrifice needed. Now Christ looks upon Satan as the one who is ultimately responsible for all of the rapes, genocides, and murders in the world and says, “I am holding you accountable for all of this.” Satan is punished under Gods judgment not only for his rebellion but for the sins that the redeemed committed. This has nothing to do with salvation. It has everything to do with closure. God will bring closure for us. He will make an utter end of sin and hold Satan ultimately responsible for it. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s just, fair, and awesome.

I must also add that the issue of scapegoat as savior has nothing to do with LGT or Andreasen. To my knowledge, there is not a single Adventist fringe group that teaches that either. It is a complete misunderstanding by critics of Adventist theology.


10. Sabbath is not the Seal. The seal is the Holy Spirit.

There is no need for me to share official SDA comments on this statement because it is well attested that we in fact do believe that the Sabbath is Gods seal. This is clear in both SDA theology and Ellen White. However, an oversimplification of this theology is what leads to the misconception Ms. Matthews shared. Therefore, allow me to elaborate:


From Ellen White:

Love is expressed in obedience, and perfect love casteth out all fear. Those who love God, have the seal of God in their foreheads, and work the works of God {LDE 221.4}.
Notes: The above Ellen White quote demonstrates that she understood the seal of God to be more than just going to church on Saturday. It has to do with having a heart that loves God supremely – a love which according to scripture is always expressed by obedience (John 14:15). So, far from receiving the seal of God due to our ability to read the calendar correctly or to keep the law well, the seal of God is given to those who love God. Thus, the seal of God must not be understood as simply a "law" issue, but as a love issue.

In addition, the seal of God as the Sabbath must be understood in its apocalyptic setting in contrast to the mark of the beast. If we separate the seal of God from that context we end up with a “you must start keeping the Sabbath to be saved” theology that does nothing but undermine the truth about Jesus only. If such a theology were true then Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Wesley will all be lost because none of them kept the Sabbath and thus none of them received the seal of God. This is salvation by works and it is heresy. So how can we say that the seal of God is his Sabbath? Once again, this concept must be understood in its apocalyptic context.

Scripture is clear that in the final days there will be a crisis over loyalty. All of mankind will be compelled by force and threat to worship the beast but those who are faithful to God will refuse on pain of death. The faithful are described in Revelation as "those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus" (Rev. 14:12). There are myriads of Gods faithful children today who are not honoring the Lords day of rest but are instead (though unwittingly) bowing to the authority of Papal Rome. Today there is much debate over the validity of the Sabbath. Faithful Christians find themselves on both sides of the debate. But in the final crisis there will no longer be a debate. Every person will know for sure whether or not they are following God or following the beast. Thus, it is within this apocalyptic context that Ellen White could say:
... when Sunday observance shall be enforced by law, and the world shall be enlightened concerning the obligation of the true Sabbath, then whoever shall transgress the command of God, to obey a precept which has no higher authority than that of Rome, will thereby honor popery above God {GC, 449}.
Those who would have the seal of God in their foreheads must keep the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. This is what distinguishes them from the disloyal, who have accepted a man-made institution in the place of the true Sabbath. The observance of God’s rest day is the mark of distinction between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not (Manuscript 27, 1899) {7BC 970.2}.
Understood within the apocalyptic context the seal of God poses no contradiction to Jesus Only. Those who decide to follow the beast will turn their backs on Christ and those who choose to be faithful to God will evidence their faithfulness by obedience. So the seal of God in Revelation is set against the backdrop of the mark of the beast. In the final crisis everyone will have either the mark or the seal. Unless one is willing to go as far as to develop a theology that teaches that it’s OK to be disobedient and receive the mark of the beast and still be saved then you have to come to terms with the apocalyptic seal (Note: Adventists, like Methodists and Lutherans, do not accept "once saved always saved" as a biblical doctrine). However, never make the mistake of thinking that we earn Gods apocalyptic seal and thus earn salvation. The issue here has nothing to do with faith vs works. It simply has to do with sincerity. Are we going to be faithful to God and worship him or are we going to ally ourselves with the religio-political Antichrist system of Revelation and worship it? When you dig deep it becomes obvious that the real issue is not about 7th day VS. 1st day but about who your Lord is, man or God? It’s really that simple.

Therefore, it seems to me that the only way to turn the seal of God into a legalistic doctrine is to remove it from its apocalyptic context. Once you do that, yes it very much sounds like we are sealed based on our performance instead of Gods grace. But within the apocalyptic context it becomes clear that it is primarily and issue of sincerity/loyalty not faith/works (even though it is by faith that we honor God in the midst of this conflict). 

A perfect example of this is the book of Hebrews. The book was written with one purpose in mind - to convince persecuted Christians, who were considering returning to Judaism in order to escape the persecution, to remain faithful to God. Hebrews is clear that turning your back on Jesus means forfeiting the salvation he so freely offers. Paul is encouraging the believers to be faithful to Christ because he is the only way to heaven. Judaism and its many ceremonies was worthless, Christ and his righteousness was of true value.

Likewise, in the apocalyptic context the Christian church will suffer intense persecution. The beast will offer his mark and say that anyone who receives it will escape the persecution. Since the beast is Papal Rome and his mark of authority is Sunday observance then we conclude that a Sunday law will be enforced. Those who honor it will give allegiance to Papal Rome. But those who refuse and instead honor Gods Sabbath (a sign of his creation, salvation, and redemption) will evidence their allegiance to Him and thus be sealed. Is it possible for a sincere Christian during this time to say, "Well I'm not saved by works so I'm just gonna get the mark of the beast and go to heaven anyways"? No way! Such a thought is nonsensical. 

The way I see it, the final test has nothing to do with revealing to God who his faithful ones are. He already knows. But the final test will help us see if we really love God and would be happy to spend eternity with him. God never tests us to discover something about us he doesn't know. He tests us to reveal something to us that we don't know. I think at this time many who thought they wanted to go to heaven and be with God forever will discover that they find no joy in honoring him in the midst of a temporary conflict and will thus make their decision to walk away from him forever. Again, sincerity is the issue.

However, the NT does say "do not grieve the Holy Spirit by whom you "were" sealed." Not "by whom you are going to be sealed." This concept, when combined with Revelation, paints a picture of a two dimensional sealing. One in the here and now. It gives us assurance of our salvation. The other is in the apocalyptic context, protects us from the plagues, and reveals to us how much we truly love God. I believe that at this time many self-confident Adventists will be surprised to discover that they don't really love God enough to risk everything for him, while many self-doubting Christians will be surprised to discover that there lies within them an unmovable love for God. To this some will ask, How can we have full assurance of salvation if there is a possibility that we will turn our backs on God in the future? To this the Bible responds:
being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. - Phi. 1:6
Just keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and rest in the promise of his word.

11. Saved from sin not in sin.

This statement simply needs clarification. The way it is used does not mean that we have to become sinless to either be or remain saved. That is not its intended use. This statement simply says that we cannot be hypocrites and go to heaven. Everybody hates hypocrites. God did not die in order to spawn a movement of forgiven hypocrites. He died in order to save us from sin so that we could be new creatures in Christ Jesus. This statement simply teaches what the book of Jude teaches (and the rest of the Bible for that matter). We cannot claim Jesus and cling to cherished sin at the same time. It’s one or the other. This is not just an SDA teaching. With exception to the antinomianists this is a commonly accepted view in Protestantism. The danger of course is to assume that we must overcome sin in order to be accepted by God and then be absolutely perfect, but I have already dealt with that above. In short, sincerity is all this quote is appealing for. Below is a quotation from a non-denominational Christian website (gotquestions.org) that expresses the exact view we as a church uphold:

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). [Read More]
12. Faith is a gift.

From the Bible

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. – Romans 12:3
From Ellen White
Faith that enables us to receive God’s gifts is itself a gift, of which some measure is imparted to every human being {Ed 253.4}.
Notes: It is not only faith that is a gift. Repentance is also a gift of God (Romans 2:4). Thus, Ellen White could also say:
The Bible does not teach that the sinner must repent before he can heed the invitation of Christ, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. It is the virtue that goes forth from Christ, that leads to genuine repentance {SC 26}.
The Bible also teaches that we must confess to be forgiven (1 John 11:9). However, we cannot confess unless the Holy Spirit convicts (John 16:8). With this in mind, the three conditions for salvation (faith, confession, and repentance) are all gifts from God. They do not come from within, they come from Him. We can no more repent, confess, and believe in Him than we can save ourselves. God provides everything for our salvation. The only thing he does not do is say “yes” on our behalf. This truth is also seen in the OT sanctuary which Adventists love so much. When a person sinned they had to come to the sanctuary with a sacrifice. Without the sacrifice it was pointless to come to the sanctuary. The sanctuary represents the plan of salvation yet no one was allowed to enter in unless the savior (sacrifice) was with them. This illustrates that no one can enter salvation of his own volition. God must provide every detail with the exception of a free response. Ellen White wrote:
Repentance, as well as forgiveness, is the gift of God through Christ. It is through the influence of the Holy Spirit that we are convicted of sin and feel our need of pardon. None but the contrite are forgiven; but it is the grace of God that makes the heart penitent. He is acquainted with all our weaknesses and infirmities, and He will help us {FW 38.2}.
The teaching summarized here is known in theological circles as the doctrine of previnient grace. Ellen White clearly believed in previnient grace. For her confession, repentance, and faith were all a gift of God to bring the sinner toward salvation. This is most clearly summarized in her following statement:
Separate humanity from divinity, and you can try to work out your own righteousness from now till Christ comes, and it will be nothing but a failure... All heaven is laboring to elevate the human race from the degradation of sin. All heaven is open to the inhabitants of earth... if there is a man on the face of the earth who has any inclination toward God, it is because of the many influences that are set to work to bear upon his mind and heart {FW 71, 73}.
13. Jesus only!

From the book Seventh-Day Adventists Believe, put forth by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

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
Personal quotes of how I, as a Seventh-day Adventist, understand salvation:
...there are three popular versions of salvation. 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. The second is that you are saved as a free gift apart from works. This means that you don’t have to do anything in order to be saved. You just have to receive the gift. The third is that you are saved by grace, but in order to stay saved you have to work. For many years I fell into the third version of salvation. However, this version is simply a baptized version of salvation by works. 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. But according to Paul, it’s the second version that’s the right one. We are saved by grace through faith. Period. Look at it here in Ephesians. It says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Guys, it’s not about what we do; it’s about what He did. We can’t do anything to be saved. We can’t do anything to stay saved. It’s all a gift of God. And the crazy thing is that God gives this gift to evil people, not to good people. Grace is for the sinner not the saint. [Do You Qualify For Salvation? Click here for the full article]
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.” 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….” 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.” [The Investigative Judgment and Righteousness by Faith, Click here for the full article and references]
Suppose you have been a faithful Christian for 40 years. You have led countless people to God, have preached over 4,000 sermons, have lived a life of exceptional obedience, and have impacted the world through your humanitarian efforts. You have placed all of your faith in Jesus. Are not a legalist. Have never been hypocritical and have a tender and loving heart like Jesus'. In short - you are a model Christian on your way to heaven. Suddenly, the strangest thing happens. Somehow Jesus ceases to exist and the cross is erased from history. What does that mean for you? Will you be able to go to God and present the last 40 years of your obedience as an argument for him to let you into heaven? The straight up answer is no. None of it will count. That's because none of that obedience played any meritorious role in your salvation. It was simply the result. Never the basis. [Jesus Only! Click here for the full article]
Satan is constantly accusing us before God day and night. His charge? You are not good enough to go to heaven. Every time you sin Satan is there to accuse you of not being good enough for the kingdom of heaven. And the only way that you and I can pass Satan's test and escape his accusations is if we were absolutely perfect. Did you catch it? Satan is the original perfectionist! The doctrine of salvation by perfection is an ancient heresy invented by the enemy of God. [Salvation According to Satan, Click here for the full article]
From Ellen White
We must not permit Satan to cast his hellish shadow athwart our pathway, and accomplish his purpose of eclipsing the bright views of our future reward. Let us not look upon his shadow of darkness. We gain heaven not through our own merits, but through the merits of Jesus Christ. We cannot find salvation in our own individual selves; we are to look unto Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith, and as we look, we live. Satan would point us to ourselves, and seek to make us feel that we must bear our own sins. How hard poor mortals strive to be sin-bearers for themselves and for others! but the only sin-bearer is Jesus Christ. He alone can be my substitute and sin-bearer. The forerunner of Christ exclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” Shall we not give up our sins, and let them go? Shall we not turn from them and hate them, and still remember that Christ regards his human agents as of great value? We cannot calculate the estimate placed upon the soul. Then take your eyes off yourself, and encourage hope and confidence in Christ. Let your hope not be centered in yourself, but in him who has entered within the vail. Talk of the blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ {RH June 9, 1896, par. 2}.
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}.
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}.
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}.

Concluding Remarks 

This is without a doubt the longest article I have ever posted on this site. I did it all on the same page because I wanted the article to be with the video. However, once again, my purpose in writing this article is not to combat Ms. Matthews. There are plenty of more sophisticated books, ministries, websites, and documentaries attacking the SDA church. I have no desire to debate with any of them and although I welcome friendly dialogue with Ms. Matthews to argue over these issues will only open the door to what I consider to be, to a large degree, a colossal waste of time. I think Ms. Matthews would agree.[iIii]

My reason for writing this is thus, not in an attempt to defend the SDA church from its critics but from its very own members – some of which are zealous for the faith we hold. I hope stories like Ms. Matthews can help us see how damaging an unbalanced presentation of the gospel can be. The painful results of adopting views that remove Christ from the center of it all haunt many current and former Adventists. To my fellow Adventists, whom I love so much, I appeal – make Christ your all. Study to show yourself approved. Let us be, as we once were, a people of the book. And yet, let us not only be a people of the book, but a people of the author as well. And whenever someone tells you anything that seems to remove Christ from his rightful place as the all sufficient savior do not believe it, no matter who it comes from, even if they have Ellen White quotes to “prove” it.

And what about Ms. Matthews? I truly hope she can someday heal from the damage we as a church caused (I still have not fully healed but it’s getting better). Not only her, but all of those whom we have been hurt with false Adventism. There is a battle ahead of all who want to reclaim Adventism from the cold grip of legalism. I truly wish Ms. Matthews would return so that she can help us fight the fight, but I also have but one desire for her: That she would love Jesus supremely, follow Him unreservedly, and enjoy her journey of faith for once. As for me, I’ll be here with the many who are fighting the fight to reclaim Adventism as a movement intended to portray the supremacy of Christ and his atoning blood unlike any other. 
This is true Adventism, and if Ms. Matthews had known it, Oh! What a difference it would have made.


How to Heal

A good question to ask is, if Adventism is beset by such division why even be a part of the church? It seems as though being an Adventist is too dramatic, too controversial, and too distracting. While other Christians enjoy a simple walk with Jesus, Adventists seem to be engaged in a perpetual and complex battle over theology. Discovering true Adventism, working through the arguments and nuances of LGT with their never ending refutations and clarifications, and weeding out the false perceptions in order to arrive at the genuine seems like too much of a hassle. Even now I can promise that many LGT proponents will attempt to refute what I have stated in this article in which case I will respond, in which case they will respond, in which case I will quote the experts, in which case they will quote the experts, in which case I will appeal to the Bible to which they will respond by doing likewise. Then we will get into Ellen White, Adventist history, and the development of Catholic and Evangelical theology. Soon we will be arguing over the Greek and Hebrew (we might even pull out a dictionary from the 1800's to see what Ellen White really meant when she used certain words). Such a scenario could go on forever and ever. LGT proponents will claim the positions taken against them are straw-man arguments, while those opposed to LGT will maintain that they are not. Countless hours will then be devoted to pouring over Andreasens writings in order to determine his exact position on certain issues. The dictionaries will be brought back out and the fight will seem to be back at square one. This is not, in my estimation, an effective avenue by which to find healing and unity. 

First of all, allow me to state that I know countless Adventists who know nothing of these debates and enjoy a simple walk with Jesus like any other Christian (I envy them). Likewise, many other protestant denominations are beset with their own theological divisions. Indeed, Christianity has been divided even from its infancy in New Testament times. Adventists are certainly not alone in such drama and it is possible to be an Adventist without ever getting involved in these debates. But in the context of Adventism, the question is "how do we heal?" Is the solution to marginalize those whose theological views we disagree with? Or is the solution to launch an all out war against one another as Andreasen did with the authors of QOD? No. Such an approach will never work. It will only foster greater division, pride, and hatred of the opposite camp. A quick glance at the history of theological division within Gods people demonstrates that debates such as these do nothing but dig each proponent deeper into their own views - a phenomenon that continues decade after decade, generation after generation, and millennium after millennium. Again, such an approach will never work.

While I will not spend much time on this issue (I will do so in the book REclaiming Adventism) I will say this: Without love we will never heal. Indeed, love is the essence of perfection. If Adventists and Andreasens would, by faith, take hold of the love of Jesus and in turn pour that love out on one another the only possible result would be healing and unity. It is our tendency to hate those we disagree with that will keep us in a constant state of brokenness. We must come to terms with our differences and unite in love. Only then can we effectively engage in dialogue that will produce good fruit. Must we wait to "love like Jesus" before we can come together for this purpose? No. If we do we will be waiting forever. But we can make the choice to love, and to keep on loving no matter what. If and when we do we can move forward in faith that God will make it all work out.

Whether you are a proponent of LGT or not, none of us want to see more Eliana Matthews leaving our church. Neither do we want to see more young Adventists living under the burden of hopelessness. On this we can unite. While I do not believe that it is logically possible to believe in LGT and the true gospel I am not willing to begin a war to marginalize the myriads of wonderful, committed  and loyal Adventists who have found LGT to be true. There must be a coming together in love and a renewed emphasis on the righteousness of Christ. Those who refuse to be a part of this healing are not our responsibility. Ellen White spoke of a shaking that would shake many out of the Adventist church. When that shaking takes place those who are impure will be removed from our fellowship. As sad as this may be, it gives me hope for the Adventist church because it assures me that the day is coming in which God will remove all those who are standing in the way of the gospel. Until then, all I can do is wait on Jesus, teach the gospel, and pray for God to reboot my own spiritual life. 

The issues are deep, the divisions are wide, and the emotions are raw. In and of ourselves we will never fix this, but there is One who is capable of doing the impossible without our help. He created man without mans help. He redeemed man without mans help. And he will ultimately restore man without mans help. While he calls for our cooperation, he does not need our help and of that I am truly thankful. So let us heed the call. Let us cooperate with the healer so that we can have our eyes opened, our leprosy cured, and our spiritual paralysis replaced by the power of the unutterable love of God.[iiiii]


Further Reading

The Pre-Advent Judgment and Righteousness by Faith


Troubling Statements of Ellen White on the Investigative Judgment

What Does It Mean to be Judged?

Ellen G. White on Legalism

John Wesley on Christian Perfection

Some Thoughts on the Human Nature of Christ

Do You Qualify for Salvation?

James VS Paul

Who Is Michael the Archangel?

Why Does God Need to Investigate?

How Adventists are Blessed by Other Christians

What Ellen White Said About Non-SDA Pastors

Salvation According to The Bible: A Greek Word Study

Are Adventists Christians?

Salvation According to Satan

Look and Live

My Understanding of Salvation

The SDA Gospel is Legalistic - Isn't It?

Troubling Statements of Ellen White [Updated]

Seventh-day Adventists and Other Christians

Why Am I an Adventist?

Another Look at Babylon (George R. Knight)

Never Good Enough: The Close of Probation and Sinless Perfectionism

Ellen Whites Clearest and Most Concise Explanation of the Gospel

Jesus Only!


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)

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



Recommended Books

I Used to Be Perfect by George R. Knight

The Case for the Investigative Judgment by Marvin Moore

Questions on Doctrine Revisited! by Leroy Moore

The Gospel VS. Legalism by Marvin Moore

Blinded by the Light by Philip W. Dunham

Seventh-Day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine -(annotated edition)

Seventh-day Adventists Believe (put forth by the General Conference)

My Tortured Conscience by Martin Weber

Ellen White Under Fire by Jud Lake

Sin and Salvation by George R. Knight

Reading Ellen White by George R. Knight

An Endless Falling in Love by Ty Gibson

Who's Got the Truth? by Martin Weber

Faith and Works by Ellen G. White

Steps to Jesus by Ellen G. White

The Apocalyptic Vision and the Neutering of Adventism by George R. Knight

Surviving the Shaking by Keavin Hayden

Lifestyles of the Remnant by Keavin Hayden

Never Without an Intercessor by Morris Venden

Adventist Cultures in Conflict by Leroy Moore

The Power of Humility: What to do When You Are "Right" by Leroy Moore

Videos

Does the Sabbath Still Matter?

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

Jesus Practical Guide to Perfection

A New Beginning

Resting in Gods Finished Work

No Hope. No Victory. (Perfection VS Perfectionism)
______________


[i] I do not like using the contrast Seventh-day Adventists VS. Seventh-day Andreasens because it implies that Andreasens are not true Adventists. While there are differences in our theology, such a dichotomy is still, to a certain degree, false. There are many Andreasens who are better Christians than I am and it would be nothing short of arrogance to suggest that those of the LGT persuasion are false Adventists. However, I make use of the phrase because it is imperative, for the sake of clarity, to establish the theological differences between mainstream Adventist theology and LGT. I hope none would take offence at this faulty attempt to maintain such clarity.

[ii] I am not suggesting that Andreasen was not a wonderful SDA who loved the Lord. He was certainly a faithful man whom God used in mighty ways. So when I refer to Andreasen in this article I am not referring to the man but to the theology. It is his theology I refute, not his person. In addition, I have my doubts as to whether Andreasen is fully responsible for the legalism inherent in LGT. While LGT is logically consistent with legalism I don't think that was Andreasens intention. However, later teachers of the doctrine have certainly proposed it that way and why wouldn't they? The theology logically demands it. With that said, I am not entirely uncomfortable or at enmity with LGT. I believe that much of what it teaches is true, however, if it will ever produce the results it proposes it needs to replace its heavy emphasis on victory over sin with a more balanced emphasis on both grace and power. A proper understanding of the gospel always leads a believer to feel inspired not required to change.

[iii] The following comparison of Wesley and White is not to be mistaken as saying that they both agreed on every minute point when it came to perfection. In fact, there are many aspects of Wesley's soteriology that White never promoted. This includes Wesley's belief in instantaneous perfection, the possibility of knowing one has reached a state of perfection, and his overbearing emphasis on works as noted in the published Methodist Conference minutes of 1770. For more on the differences between Wesley and White check out the article John Wesley on Christian Perfection. I also recommend John Wesley, A Biography by Stephen Tomkins

[iiii] This post serves as a skeleton for a book I am working on titled REclaiming Adventism. The book will go into more depth and offer a fuller picture of these issues, their evolution, and how we can heal. To be honest, while I want to write the book I also do not want to write it. I fear such a project would place me at the center of debates I quite honestly do not want to be a part of. I am also fully aware of the reactions I may receive from my own brethren (some of which are relatives) who are LGT proponents. However, stories like Ms. Matthews' prompt me to speak up and not be silent. As Martin Luther once said, "Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me."

[iiiii] The following books, by Leroy Moore, are excellent resources for those seeking to foster healing within the SDA community: Adventist Cultures in Conflict and The Power of Humility: What to do When You Are "Right"

The Urgent Implications of the Pre-Advent Judgment
photo credit: Me2 (Me Too) via photopin cc
The picture above captures what comes to most minds when they think of the Adventist doctrine of an investigative judgment. For many years I had a false understanding of the investigative judgment (pre-advent judgment) that bred this same fear instead of hope. My wife was also taught growing up that her name could come up at any moment in the courtroom of heaven and if she wasn't perfect when it did she would be lost forever. The result of distorting this biblical teaching is a sense of fear and anxiety that has led many to flat out reject the validity of this doctrine. Of those who have not rejected it, many still suffer under this misconception and live in fear of their name coming up in the judgment. However, after studying the topic for myself I realized that the opposite is true and that the investigative judgment is really good news. It is the message that God is at work right now to save as many people as possible - not damn them. This flies in the face of the popular concept that God is out to get us. It is a counter cultural reality - God is on our side. He is not against us.

While the good news of the investigative judgment was an eye opening experience for me I wondered for a time what it was that made the message so urgent. I mean, I was glad to see that it was good news but failed to see what made it so important. Yes, I knew that the investigative judgment is Gods final work on behalf of humanity which means when its over its over, but I still felt that a sense of true urgency was missing. 

In recent days I have come to realize what that missing element was. The Bible teaches that the end-time judgment has two arch-phases.  The first is the investigative judgment (before the second coming) which is a judgment for all who have ever proclaimed the name of Jesus. The second is the Great White Throne judgment (1000 years after the second coming) which is for the wicked. In the investigative judgment it is the disciples of Jesus (and the pseudo-disciples) who are judged not the wicked. In other words, everyone who has ever claimed the name of Jesus is judged. The sincere believers have nothing to fear in this judgment. For them it is a time of vindication not of fear. When it is over, the true disciples (those who are believers in Jesus) are given the kingdom. The next judgment that takes place, the Great White Throne judgment, only considers the cases of the lost not the saved.

Do you realize the implication of this? Anyone not judged in the investigative judgment is automatically lost. This means that you want your name to come up in the investigative judgment because if it doesn't then it will come up in the Great White Throne judgment. Everyone is going to be judged and I don't know about you, but I want my name to come up in the investigative judgment because if it does I know I am saved. So what is the urgency? The Bible is inviting the whole world to choose what judgment they want to fall under. We should be inviting people to the joy of knowing that those who are in Christ will be judged and vindicated in the pre-advent judgment and thus not be judged and condemned before the Great White Throne. The judgment is taking place right now. Its time we started inviting. 





Further Reading: The Investigative Judgment
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}. 
Why Does God Need to "Investigate?"


I've already posted quite a few blogs on the Investigative Judgment (IJ) doctrine of the Seventh-day Adventist church and how I feel about it in light of the Bible but I thought I would re-visit the concept. One question that pops to mind when you study the IJ is, Why does God need to investigate? Doesn't He already know everything? My answer is: Yes! God knows everything and He does not need to investigate anything. So why the IJ doctrine? Allow me to share with you a few Bible stories. At the end of each of them I'm going to ask those same two questions: Why does God need to investigate? and, Doesn't He already know everything?

Story 1: Adam and Eve


In Genesis 3 we read the story of the fall of man. As soon as Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit the Bible says that, "the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, 'Where are you?'" Adam answers by saying that they hid because they were naked to which God replies, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from? Adam then blames Eve and turning to her God asks, "What is this you have done?" 

Four questions are present here. Now, if God is all-knowing, why did He ask these questions? Whats more, each of them is a question of "investigation." So my question is, Why does God need to investigate? Doesn't He already know everything?

Story 2: Tower of Babel

After the flood the people of earth decided to build a tower that would reach to heaven so that they would have a place to go in case of another flood. Genesis 11:5 says that, "the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building."

Why did God "come down"? If I am in my bedroom upstairs and I hear a strange sound downstairs I'm going to go down to investigate or find out what it is. So again I ask, Why did God come down? To make matters more interesting the Bible says He came down "to see". Here, once again, we see God investigating. But why does God need to investigate? Doesn't He already know everything?

Story 3: 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.

Once again I ask, Why did God need to investigate? Didn't He already know everything?

Story 4: 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? Again, Why does God need to investigate? Doesn't He already know everything?

Story 5: 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?

Conclusion

Whats evident about all of these stories is that God investigates before He judges. If God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow then why would the final judgment be any different? Of course God doesn't "need" to investigate. He already knows everything! Then why does He? Because God cares about us. Investigating before judging is Gods way of speaking our language. Its His way of condescending to our finite level and meeting us where we are. It's His way of saying, "I don't demand that you trust me, I prove that you can." God is transparent. He has nothing to hide. The investigation is not for Gods benefit, its for ours. Its for all his creatures.
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 13: Character of God


As noted earlier, the judgment also exonerates the character of God. Marvin Moore sums this aspect of the pre-Advent judgment well. Moore writes that the “doctrine of the investigative judgment tells us that we serve a very transparent God.”[1] Imagine that God were not transparent but that instead He hid everything from His creation. Would that not imply that He had something to hide? The judgment however, shows us that God has absolutely nothing to hide.

Further Reading: Why The Critics of the Investigative Judgment Have Failed




[1] Marvin Moore, The Case For The Investigative Judgment: Its Biblical Foundation [Nampa: Pacific Press, 2010], 337
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,  http://www.sdaforme.com/FAQRetrieve.aspx?ID=38272 [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 10: What Difference Does it Make?


As noted earlier, the pre-advent judgment teaches that the final judgment will take place before the second coming of Christ. During this judgment the lives of every person, both believers and unbelievers alike, will be investigated. However, why does God need to investigate if He already knows everything? Martin Weber faced this same question while studying the topic of the pre-Advent judgment. He writes:
One evening we met in my living room to debate the judgment of 1844 in heaven's sanctuary. Perhaps we had our Bibles open but our minds closed, because we didn't seem to be getting anywhere. Finally one of my friends turned to me in exasperation. “Tell me honestly, what difference does it make? I know I'm accepted in Christ, so what difference does it make whether or not there's a judgment going on in heaven now?”[1] 
The first point we need to make in all of this is that “…the judgment is not for God’s information…. God knows each of our hearts already.”[2] So then, what is the judgment for? Before that question is answered, a few more questions need to be asked. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden by eating the forbidden fruit, God’s first reaction was to enter the garden and ask Adam where he was.[3] Why would God do this? Did God not know where Adam was? After Cain killed Abel, God’s first reaction once again was to ask Cain where Abel was.[4] Did not the all-knowing God know where Abel was? This scenario of “investigation” repeats itself over and over again in scripture and quite soon it becomes clear that the investigation is not for Gods benefit. Therefore, if the judgment is not for God’s benefit then logically it must be for the benefit of His creation as we will now see.

Further Reading: Why The Critics of the Investigative Judgment Have Failed

____________________
[1] Martin Weber, More Adventist Hot Potatoes [Boise: Pacific Press, 1992], 77.
[2] George R. Knight, The Apocalyptic Vision and the Neutering of Adventism: Are We Erasing Our Relevancy? [Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 2008], 70.
[3] Gen. 3:9.
[4] Gen. 4:9.
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.
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.