Why the Investigative Judgment Matters

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Why the Investigative Judgment Matters

Read the main article on this topic, Why the Critics of the Investigative Judgment Have Failed, for background on terminology used in this article.

Another question that was raised by the Spectrum article mentioned above is why the individual Christian should care about doctrines like the Investigative Judgment (IJ), the Sanctuary, 1844, etc. Here are some of those reasons:

1. An understanding the Old Testament sanctuary service provides strong confirmation that the Classical Arminian perspective is, in fact, the correct one.

2. The sanctuary also confirms the Adventist view that sanctification plays an important role in the Christian’s life.

3. The sanctuary reinforces our view of the prominent role of the Ten Commandments, since they were placed right underneath the mercy seat representing God’s throne.

4. The prominent role of the Ten Commandments in the sanctuary becomes an additional confirmation of the importance of the Sabbath.

5. The sanctuary perspective, although thought to rob Adventists of security, actually provides a firm basis for the assurance of salvation. Although Calvinists believe in predestination and the perseverance of the saints, if they happen to fall into serious sin, they often question whether they were elected to begin with. Once Saved Always Saved (O.S.A.S.) Arminians theoretically do have a firmer basis for security than Calvinists. However, they still face the same conundrum as Calvinists. In addition, the psychological instinct for guilt tends to overwrite in most cases whatever theological assurance there might be. And, Classical Arminians always did struggle with assurance.

Adventists, however, saw in the sanctuary that Jesus participated in two distinct ministries, that of intercessor and that of judge. And, that these two ministries were separated in time. What this meant was that Jesus did not need to judge the sinner every time he sinned since there would be plenty of time for that during the IJ at the end of time. Throughout the person’s life, therefore, Jesus could focus His entire attention towards extending the sinner love, mercy, and grace; whatever necessary to save them if at all possible.

So while the Calvinist or O.S.A.S. Arminian, having committed some grievous sin, might wrestle with doubt, the Adventist could still come boldly to the throne of grace knowing that, while there will be a judgment in the future, at this point there is no condemnation and Jesus is ready to receive with open arms. In addition, Adventists saw in the judgment the continued presence of Jesus’ intercessory ministry and His desire, not to condemn, but to vindicate. Therefore, the picture of a God who ever lives to vindicate His people, never to condemn, gives the IJ believer a stronger sense of assurance without erroneously leading them to the brinks of antinomianism or universalism.

See this article for a more detailed explanation: https://thecompassmagazine.com/blog/how-adventism-ended-the-gospel-wars

6. The doctrine of the IJ anchors us in time. Today, most evangelical Christians believe that we are very close to the second coming. However, they have no idea why they believe this. If you ask them why it is that Jesus promised the disciples to go prepare a place and come back for them but then didn’t show up for 2000 years, the most they can say is that God does everything in His own time.

Through this doctrine, and through our understanding of the Great Controversy, Adventists came to understand that God allowed sin to continue on this earth for several thousand years because He wanted to ensure the security of the universe throughout the rest of eternity. He wanted to collect enough evidence regarding the destructive nature of sin such that no one would ever dream of taking that path again. Because of this, God had set a date in history prior to which it would be premature for the Great Controversy to end. Once that time was fulfilled, however, the IJ would start, and preparation would begin for the second coming.

Because of this understanding, Adventists can preach the soon return of Christ with a level of certainty that no other denomination has.

7. This doctrine clarifies our mission.

Throughout history, the average individual has had a lifetime of opportunities to come to Christ. When Jesus returns, however, there will be a generation of people whose probation will be cut short. If they happen to be 10 or 20 or 50 when Jesus comes, that is all the time they will get to make their decision. And, to offset the fact that an entire planet full of people will soon have their opportunities cut short, God has sent out a message of warning, a gospel invitation coupled with the additional sense of urgency. He has called us to help prepare the world for the close of probation so that Christ can return at last.

8. And finally, the IJ doctrine gives us the most powerful tool to prepare the world to reject the man-centered religion (Babylon) of the beast of Revelation 13. A brief explanation follows:

  1. There is a little horn who will oppose God (Daniel 7-9).
  2. This little horn is a religiopolitical power who will blaspheme God (claim to forgive sins/alternate system of salvation).
  3. This little horn would war against God by attacking His people.
  4. This little horn would war against God by taking away the daily sacrifice (an OT type of Jesus’ sacrifice since at this point in history no cultic sacrifices were being made).
  5. This little horn would trample the sanctuary (an OT type of the Gospel narrative since no literal temple would exist during the time of this horn).
  6. According to the angel, the little horn would get away with this for 2300 days and then the sanctuary would be restored (Daniel 8:14).

In other words, the predicted work of this little horn would be to establish an alternative system of salvation that would counter the gospel and sacrifice of Jesus. The horn would get away with this, but 2300 days from the time of Daniel’s vision the sanctuary would be restored, meaning the process of judgment would begin, and the horn would be condemned.

A study of history demonstrates that this is precisely what the little horn—the Roman church—did. Ultimately, the church developed its own system of salvation which replaced the true gospel (the sanctuary was cast down). The restoration of the sanctuary is judgment against the horn. However, this judgment is not simply a reply to the horn but the predetermined time in which God would commence judgment.

Nevertheless, this judgment has direct implications for the work of the little horn. The simplest demonstration of this is in the preciseness of the judgment. According to both Scripture and Ellen White, this judgment is so precise that no one can escape it, and nothing can be hidden from it. This reality proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the system of salvation the little horn implemented (man-centered) would not be enough to attain salvation. Thus, the IJ doctrine is the strongest refutation of Rome’s legalism and priestly gospel abuse/indulgences, etc. The only way to face this judgment with assurance of salvation is to trust only in the merits of Christ. Man-centered religion (Babylon) falls in light of the proclamation of this message.

In short, the IJ is such a strict and precise process that it forever undoes Rome’s alternative method of salvation—and indeed all alternative methods of salvation—by calling us to trust in the blood of Jesus alone as our only hope for time and eternity. He alone can satisfy the requirements of the law and thus, covered by Him alone, can we be declared innocent during the judgment. In light of the fact that the final crisis will see a resurgence of this religiopolitical power with its man-centered system of salvation, this message could not be any more urgent.

The relevance of the IJ could not be any clearer. With the second coming of Jesus so near and the final assault of Satan’s deception upon the world, Adventists have been called to take the torch of the Reformation to its ultimate conclusion—there is no salvation in any other method of salvation save Jesus only. This is an urgent message that needs to be proclaimed especially now as the beast prepares to engulf the world once more in its false counter-narrative gospel.

Click here to read the rest of this series

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Marcos Torres co-authored this article. It was also published at http://www.thehaystack.tv/why-the-critics-of-the-investigative-judgment-have-failed/

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Mike Manea is a former high school science teacher with a love for theology and technology. Born in Romania, he now lives in southern California, where he cofounded Zahid Manea LLC, a marketing and management consulting firm. Mike is married and has a young son. He blogs on science, religion, and philosophy at Unapologetics and Conversations.