IS THE INVESTIGATIVE JUDGMENT BIBLICAL?
The investigative judgment is one of the most contested doctrines of the Adventist church. Some claim we have no Biblical bases for this belief. Pause for a moment to read this challenge:
“I am puzzled that something such as the Investigative Judgment, that is suppose to share equal billing with the Christ Events, does not have any clear declarative exposition as to its existence by any New Testament writer. Much is written concerning Jesus’ Life, Death and Resurrection and their salvific value, and about his coming again to gather his people into his kingdom. But there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that speaks directly and clearly to the issue of an investigative judgment. We all have seen the twisted path through the apocalyptic symbolism of Daniel and Revelation that one must take, as well as the amazing feats of biblical gymnastics (without the safety net of context) needed to arrive at such a doctrine.
It beats me why the God of heaven would make the story of the Christ Events so simple that even a child can comprehend the activities of Jesus, would at the same time present another Christ event in such an obscure way that even the best of the SDA theologians and scholars have difficulty explaining it. Then all Christians from the beginning would have looked forward to it just as they have the second coming and praise God for such a marvelous thing.”
As we reflect the challenge, we need to ask a few more questions to get this issue into fuller focus and then seek the truth on the matter.
Why, since Christ’s first advent and death on the Cross are so very, very important, was it not stated so clearly in the Old Testament that even a Jewish child could have recognized Jesus as the Messiah. Why did the olden day prophets not make a clear, pronounced declaration to remove all doubts from the minds of people about the purpose of Christ’s first advent. Why were the prophecies of Christ’s first advent embedded in prophecies relating to more local situations, so the “safety net of context” would have kept the people from seeing them? Why didn’t the best of the Jewish theologians and scholars recognize the Christ as the Messiah, since they had studied scripture extensively? Why was it so obscure that even the disciples, after walking with Christ for three and a half years, couldn’t see what His real mission was as He hung on the cross? Why????
Because people see what they want to see. Israel wanted only the glory and prestige of a Messiah King, they didn’t want Someone asking them to surrender their hearts and wills to Him. They didn’t want to give up their greedy ambitions, they didn’t want to part with sin. Could the world today be in the same position? The sanctuary message brings with it the message that we must surrender our lives to Christ and part with our pet sins. That is not a popular message.
The sanctuary message shows that we are accountable for our actions, and that is not a popular message. We would much rather just leave it all up to Christ, while we go our own self willed way, walking apart from Him and doing our own thing.
Popular Understanding of Salvation, not a Safe Guide
As we study the story of redemption through Christ’s ministry in the Bible, a very disturbing picture arises. Somehow, the message of Christ’s ministry is always distorted. The ancient Jews were to look to the ceremonies which were shadows of the earthly temple to help them look forward to the coming “Lamb of God” which takes away the sins of the world. But instead of looking forward to Christ, they looked to the sacrifices as an end in themselves to the extent that they rejected their Savior.
When the Messiah came, they wanted no atoner for sins, they wanted a conquering king!
When Jesus returned to heaven to begin the daily continual TAMID in the sanctuary in heaven, the Christian church pulled people’s eyes away from this ministry and focused them on an earthly counterfeit priestly system with its penance, confessionals, mass, and Eucharist sacrifice. Why was just the “daily”, the TAMID, obscured in Daniel 8, by the papal horn? Why just the “daily” and not the yearly? Because the yearly was the day of atonement, the cleansing of the sanctuary, and it was not yet in operation before 1844.
During the reformation the TAMID was again proclaimed. But as Christ moved into His work of cleansing in the sanctuary, again the Christian world refused to follow.
We will be Judged! READ IT STRAIGHT FROM THE BIBLE
I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as 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. (22) the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given in favor of the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.
But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment unto the Son: 5.27 And has given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.
We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
2 Cor. 5:10
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to what he has done, whether it be good or bad.
But those things, which God foretold by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he has so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men every where to repent: Because he has appointed a day, (can also be translated, time) in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom he has ordained; He has given assurance of this to all men, by raising him from the dead.
Which show the work of the law written in their hearts,…In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments” for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
Some say it’s only the wicked that are judged, but the Bible clearly indicts that all will appear before the judgment throne of God, some will receive the judgment of condemnation, others will be judged worthy by the blood of the Lamb
2 Thess. 1.5
Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God,
1 Peter 4.17,18
For the time is come that 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 of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
There are judgment texts all through the NT as well as the old. The apocalyptic books of Daniel and Revelation tell us when and where judgment will take place, and need to be studied in order to see God’s plan of dealing with sin in the full scope of history.
The Judgment Books and Their Records
The idea of books in heaven with our deeds and names recorded in them is also all through the Bible.
Daniel 7 –which is the most graphic judgement scene declares that thrones are set up, everyone takes their seats, God Himself takes His seat, then the BOOKS ARE OPENED THE JUDGEMENT IS SET. Christ appears in the clouds at that judgment. He is our Advocate, our lawyer according to THE APOSTLES, He is also the One who gives the final sentence on each person.
Revelation also presents books of record which contain the evidence for judgment:
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and 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.
Malachi tells us about heavenly books containing our records:
Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.
And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spares his own son that serves him.
EITHER OUR SINS OR OUR NAMES WILL BE BLOTTED OUT OF THE LAMBS BOOK OF LIFE
And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever has sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.
David understood this — He desperately wanted his sins blotted out of those books and his life cleansed so he could stand uncondemned in judgment while God remained JUST in His dealings.
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Psalm 51.9-10 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
The apostle Peter urges us:
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
Yes, it is Important!
Jesus, shows how important it is for our names to be brought up in the judgment. Notice the parallels in His words, with Daniel 7, as names are brought up before the God and before the 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.
Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God.
Revelation gives us this promise:
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.
Yes, these texts, all taken together, fill in the details as we once again look in on that heavenly court scene in Daniel 7:
I beheld till the thrones were set up, and the Ancient of days took His seat. His garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as 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 7.22 The little horn wars against the saints, Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was made to vindicate the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.”
When Christ stands up, investigative judgment is complete. The book of life contains all the names of the saved.
And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
Then the declaration will go forth as found in Revelation.
The time is at hand! 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.
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
“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.
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.” (GC.483)