The Investigative Judgment 

WHAT IS IT?

This is a teaching distinctive to the Seventh Day Adventist church. How did it come to be taught? The SDA church was formerly the Millerite Movement and that group had set a date for the coming of Christ -- fall 1843. When it didn't happen, they said it would occur in spring of 1844...then October 22, 1844. What followed was termed "The Great Disappointment", and there was a rift in the group. A splinter group was led by Ellen G. White, who said the timing was right, but the EVENT was wrong. Instead of Christ coming to earth to cleanse the sanctuary on earth, He moved from the holy place to the most holy apartment (or holy of holies) in heaven in 1844 to begin an Investigative Judgment to cleanse the sanctuary in heaven. (Note 5 below)  The Investigative Judgment teaching includes a process of deciding who is "worthy" to enter heaven, and the process presumably continues to this day. (Note 2)

 

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT IT?
First, we know that NO ONE is worthy of Heaven (Romans 3:23). Secondly we know that the blood of Christ is propitiatory for those who believe in Him, meaning that it is a 100% SATISFACTION of what God requires for forgiveness and cleansing. (Romans 3:24)  Christ's work of redemption was FINISHED long ago, and is not continuing today:

"For by one offering he hath perfected forever
them that are being sanctified.  Heb. 10:14


It happened only once (Hebrews 9:25)!  The concept of an "Investigative Judgment" would require Jesus to enter into the Holy of Holies again (in 1844) but it says instead that He has put away sin:

"...But now once in the end of the world hath he appeared
to put away sin
by the sacrifice of himself." Heb. 9:26 

An investigative judgment would require Jesus to bring back out what He put away by his sacrifice... that is ridiculous.  Instead we see Jesus  SITTING in heaven as a picture of the high priest who sat down when his work was FINISHED!  Heb. 10:12

Another problem with this teaching is the denial of the promise of the new covenant found in Hebrews 8:12 and 10:17:

"And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more"

 

Another problem is the false parallel between the day of atonement activity of the high priest and Christ's actions.  The ONLY thing the high priest did was to sprinkle the blood on the altar in the holy of holies, which took only perhaps a minute.  This bears no resemblance to the ongoing actions Ellen G. White spelled out, which will continue until Christ returns:

"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."  (page 490, The Great Controversy)

The timing of redemption's benefits is also being denied. Quotes #1 and #5 below (underlines added) suggests that his investigative judgment is an aspect of Christ's ATONEMENT that is yet to be finished.  That is false.   Col. 2:13-14 indicates that the sins were blotted out AT THE CROSS.   The investigative judgment doctrine is a denial of the words of Christ moments before He died:  "It is finished."  

Another problem with this view relates to the character of God.  The idea that He needs to review and get figured out in His mind who is going to pass or fail is totally unnecessary for an omniscient God who has said that He knows the end from the beginning and that He knows who are His. (II Tim. 2:19)

Obviously Millerites needed to resolve the problem of those false prophecies...but this invention doesn't to it!Instead, it detracts from the value of what Christ already did.  There are Adventists who would like to forget about the investigative judgment teaching, but to do so would be, in effect, a denial that Ellen G. White was a true prophet(ess).  That they are not ready to do, even though it seems obvious to the casual observer that her emphasis on the Sabbath (having had a vision of the 10 commandments with a halo of light around the 4th command ) is "majoring on minors".   Christ TOLD us the greatest commandment was the two part commandment to love God and love others.  Only 9 of the 10 commandments are repeated for us in the New Testament.  It is the Sabbath command that is not repeated.  Instead, we read in Col. 2:16 that we are not to judge anyone with respect to sabbaths.    I have no problem with their Saturday worship... I hope they in turn grant us the freedom to worship ANY day of the week we choose.   For more on this, see Sabbath Keeping .  But I DO have a problem with the denial of Christ's "It is finished" statement regarding our atonement!  I would just ask this:  Where is your first loyalty -- with the SDA Church, or with Christ?

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Quotes below are from The Great Controversy, written by Ellen G. White, who Seventh Day Adventists consider to be a prophet.  Various revisions of the book have been done, so page numbers may vary from one revision to another.

(1) "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."   (page 485)

(2) "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." (pages 489-490)

(3) "...so when Christ entered the holy of holies to perform the closing work of the atonement, He ceased His ministration in the first apartment. But when the ministration in the first apartment ended, the ministration in the second apartment began. When in the typical service the high priest left the holy on the Day of Atonement, he went in before God to present the blood of the sin offering in behalf of all Israel who truly repented of their sins. So Christ had only completed one part of His work as our intercessor, to enter upon another portion of the work, and He still pleaded His blood before the Father in behalf of sinners." (pages 428-429)

(4) "And as the typical cleansing of the earthly was accomplished by the removal of the sins by which it had been polluted, so the actual cleansing of the heavenly is to be accomplished by the removal, or blotting out, of the sins which are there recorded. But before this can be accomplished, there must be an examination of the books of record to determine who, through repentance of sin and faith in Christ, are entitled to the benefits of His atonement. The cleansing of the sanctuary therefore involves a work of investigation--a work of judgment. This work must be performed prior to the coming of Christ to redeem His people; for when He comes, His reward is with Him to give to every man according to his works. Revelation 22:12. " (pages 421-422)

(5) "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. " (Chapter 28, beginning)

 

 

 

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.   p 485

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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. (pages 489-490)

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so when Christ entered the holy of holies to perform the closing work of the atonement, He ceased His ministration in the first apartment. But when the ministration in the first apartment ended, the ministration in the second apartment began. When in the typical service the high priest left the holy on the Day of Atonement, he went in before God to present the blood of the sin offering in behalf of all Israel who truly repented of their sins. So Christ had only completed one part of His work as our intercessor, to enter upon another portion of the work, and He still pleaded His blood before the Father in behalf of sinners. (pages 428-429)

 

And as the typical cleansing of the earthly was accomplished by the removal of the sins by which it had been polluted, so the actual cleansing of the heavenly is to be accomplished by the removal, or blotting out, of the sins which are there recorded. But before this can be accomplished, there must be an examination of the books of record to determine who, through repentance of sin and faith in Christ, are entitled to the benefits of His atonement. The cleansing of the sanctuary therefore involves a work of investigation--a work of judgment. This work must be performed prior to the coming of Christ to redeem His people; for when He comes, His reward is with Him to give to every man according to his works. Revelation 22:12.  (pages 421-422)