Answering Questions raised against
the Biblical

Investigative Judgment

[The investigative judgment doctrine teaches that believers will be lost if they have unconfessed sins.]

The Bible says that we can only be forgiven if we confess and forsake our sins (1 John 1:9, Proverbs 28:13). Is the question implying that the bible is wrong?

[The investigative judgment doctrine teaches that all believers will be lost if they do not keep the fourth Commandment.]
False. The bible teaches that God does not hold what we do not know and could not know against us (James 4:3;Acts 17:30).

[Adventists teach that God must make an investigation to determine whose names to keep in the Book of Life, and whose to blot out.]
Adventists teach that the Investigative Judgment is not for God, it is for the angels. And it is not to show the angels who will be saved. It is to show the angels and the rest of his creation that God has been indeed just in his judgments. Hence, the mention of angels in Rev 3:5 and Daniel 7, etc. 1 Cor. 4:9 clearly states that, “We are made a spectacle [theater] unto the world, and to angels, and to men”.

Why an investigation? Before God either hands down a sentence or executes judgment, He always investigates the facts of the case, even though He already knows everything. First He searches hearts, then He rewards. Notice:

“And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works” Rev. 2:23

And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know Gen. 18:20, 21

Is the bible ambiguous about a judgment? Not at all. The Bible says, "God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil" (Eccl. 12:14). The New Testament agrees: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the deeds done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad" (2 Cor. 5:10). Obviously Paul takes this passage directly from the book of Ecclesiastes.

[The Bible teaches that God already knows who the righteous are: I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep… (John 10:14), The Lord knoweth them that are His. (2 Tim. 2:19). The Bible is very clear that God already knows exactly who is righteous and who is not. He does not need to carry out any investigation to determine who the righteous are. ]

When God went walking in the Garden looking for Adam and Eve and calling "Where art thou?", "Hast thou eaten of the tree?”. Did God know where they were, and if they had eaten of the tree? Obviously. God certainly knows who is righteous. God’s foreknowledge does not mean that there will be no judgment when the bible says there will be a judgment (2 Cor. 5:10).

[When are sins blotted out? The Adventist Church teaches the sins of the righteous are not blotted out until after the Investigative Judgment. The Bible teaches that our sins are blotted out when we repent: I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee. (Isaiah 44:22) ]

The passage from Isaiah was certainly written with an awareness of the sanctuary message and the timing of the blotting out of sin. There is no contradiction between this verse and the timing of such blotting out relative to the yearly (and eventually the antitypical) Day of Atonement. The sinner had the assurance of forgiveness and cleansing [blotting out] by faith once he confessed his sins over the lamb in the sanctuary service, but the actual cleansing [removal] of the sins was not until the final atonement for the year = the Day of Atonement.

[The Bible teaches that our sins are blotted out when we repent: 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. (Acts 3:19)]

Acts 3:19 clearly refers to an end-time blotting out especially since it speaks of how "the times of refreshing SHALL come from the presence of the Lord." The time of Pentecostal refreshing had already come. Obviously this is talking about a future time. Verses 20-21 also make it clear this time for blotting out is "the time of restitution of all things"--yet another clear reference to the last days of human history.

[The Bible teaches that our sins are blotted out when we repent: …and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)]

Sure, the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sins. But when will this happen? “And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be CLEANSED” Dan 8:14. The book of Hebrews makes it plain that, “It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified [CLEANSED]...but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices" (Heb. 9:23). Heavenly things themselves CLEANSED by what? The only hope of the Israelites on the Day of Atonement was the “blood” of the sacrifice and so is our hope – the blood of Jesus Christ CLEANSETH. We are justified through “faith in his blood” Rom. 3:25 and hence we now have the assurance of cleansing by faith, but the actual blotting out happens only when it says will happen. That is when "the times of refreshing SHALL [future] come” (Acts 3:19).

[The Adventist Church teaches that the Atonement is not finished until the Investigative Judgment is completed just prior to the second coming of Jesus. ]

Adventist teach that Christ’s sacrificial atonement was FINISHED, PERFECT, a COMPLETE sacrifice "once for all" (Hebrews 10:10). (I haven't seen an Adventist offer a lamb yet!). But the full process of atonement requires more than sacrifice--confession of sin, forsaking of sin, mediation of the blood, and the final exile and death of the scapegoat. If the entire atonement process was over at the cross, why does the bible say that Christ is now making “reconciliation [atonement] for the sins of the people" as our high priest (Hebrews 2:17; Heb. 7:25)?

[The Bible teaches the Atonement was finished when Jesus died on the Cross: Jesus said, "It is finished." (John 19:30)]

John 19:30 says nothing about an atonement being finished; it simply says that Jesus cried, “It is finished,” without in context explaining what was finished. Christ sacrificial atonement was certainly finished but his ministry as our high priest was yet to come. What did Jesus mean when He said, “It is finished”?

John 4:34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.
John 5:36 But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.

John 17:4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.

The work that was finished was in relation to:

1) “To do the will of Him that sent me.”
2) “The works” which God has given Jesus to do"
3) “Glorified Thee on the earth.”

[The Bible teaches the Atonement was finished when Jesus died on the Cross: But this man [Jesus], after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (Heb. 10:12-14)]

The text says that Christ is at “the right hand of God” and what is he doing at the right hand of God?

Rom. 8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Why would He be making intercessions anymore if the entire ATONEMENT PROCESS was FINISHED at the cross? Isn’t the work of intercession not part of Christ’s work to save us?

[The Bible teaches that Christ's atonement on the cross has perfected (past tense) His children. Christians are not made perfect during the Investigative Judgment period. If we are "in Christ," then we were made perfect 2,000 years ago through Christ's perfect sacrifice on Calvary.]

Were God's people made perfect before Christ's sacrifice on Calvary? If yes, then perfection was based upon the promise of the coming Messiah; which is same as you receive a promise today based upon the future event. If so, then the promise of the blotting of sin was confirmed when Jesus died on the cross, but the actual carrying out the promise will take place during the investigative of judgment. If the answer is no, then what promise of salvation they had to live by?

Christ's once and for all, complete sacrifice on the cross "provided" the means for our forgiveness and cleansing [blotting out] of sins (Hebrews 1:3). And hence, only those who accept his sacrifce are JUSTIFIED [forgiveness for past sins] and SANCTIFIED [set apart as holy] by FAITH. It is true that a person who experiences this aspect of justification and sanctification by faith (just like the thief on the cross), is clothed with christ's PERFECT righteousness and hence is PERFECT in the sight of God.

However, there is more to justification than being pardoned from past sins. That is, justification experienced in the inward life; while there is more to sanctification, which is, a growing experience, in which we understand more and more of God's will, and our character grows correspondingly. See What is the Real Gospel? (Lesson 9-12).

Ellen White agrees with the Scriptures, "At every stage of development our life may be perfect; yet if God's purpose for us is fulfilled, there will be a continual advancement." (Christ's Object Lessons, p. 65)

[Cases of the Righteous have already been decided! The Adventist Church teaches that "all" must pass through the Investigative Judgment to determine whether or not they will be saved. Adventists claim the Investigative Judgment started in 1844, but the Bible clearly shows that the cases of the righteous have already been decided long prior to the Investigative Judgment: Thief on the cross: Jesus declared to the thief on the cross, "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise." (Luke 22:43). How could Jesus make a determination on the case of the thief prior to the Investigative Judgment? The thief's case was determined some 1800 years before the "Investigative Judgment" when he repented and accepted Jesus on the cross. This proves that Christ needs no Investigative Judgment to determine who will be with Him in heaven. Why would He treat us any differently than He treated the thief on the cross? The Bible says that "Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven" (1 Kings 2:11). How could God take Elijah before the Investigative Judgement was completed? What about Moses, Arbraham and Isaac who will be seated in the kingdom of Heaven]
God certainly knows the cases of the righteous, who will be saved and lost. Is the question implying that "all" must not pass through judgment when the bible says, "ALL" must pass through judgment (2 Cor. 5:10)? Firstly, the cases of the righteous have not already been decided. Otherwise, the judgment scenes in Daniel, and the two resurrections, would be false, making the Bible an unreliable guide. The truth is, being omniscient, God already knows who will have their sins blotted out in the investigative judgment.

Moreover, when Jacob received forgiveness for his sin, was he really forgiven then? No one questions that he wasn't. But then, how could he be forgiven when there was no shedding of the blood of Christ? Therefore, we conclude that the forgiveness was given to Jacob based upon the future event but the promise was given in the past (Gen. 3:15). The thief on the cross received the promise that day based upon the future event (investigative of judgment). Jesus knew this because by faith, He was doing the will of God and by faith His sacrifice was to be accepted. Therefore Jesus knew that He can blot out sins of repentant sinners who believe in Him. When Jesus said, "Thou shall be with Me in paradise", Jesus was answering the request of the thieft, "remember me". And this is what Jesus does during the investigative judgment (Rev. 3:5, Dan. 7:9-10, 13-14)

Being omnipotent, God can use specific examples to teach us important lessons—so important that they are recorded in the Scriptures. Who are we to question His ways or His lessons to humanity? He tells us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.“ Isa 55:8-9.

Further, Elijah serves as an example of those who will be translated without seeing death at Jesus’ second coming. That possibility—that great hope of those in the latter days-- is borne out in 1 Thes 4:15-17. The thief on the cross conversation teaches us that faith is crucial to salvation. Under the most forbidding of circumstances, the thief recognized Jesus to be the Son of God. When others forsook Him from fear, the thief sought Him out. The conversation was heard by all nearby. What a witness—and what a comfort that must have been to Jesus, in His agony. The thief acknowledged Christ to be the Son of God. He could do no more at that point, but Christ accepted his profession of faith as He will the most humble confession here on earth. It is a story that reveals the love of God for the sinner, and His eagerness to save.

In addition, regarding Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses & Elijah: There are a lot of court cases today where the ultimate verdict is already known, but everyone goes through the motions anyway. It's called due process.

[Eternal life begins at conversion - Adventists teach that no one should say they are "saved" because our salvation will not be certain until we pass through the Investigative Judgment. The Bible teaches that whoever accepts Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior has (present tense) eternal life: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24) We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not [his] brother abideth in death. (1 John 3:14)]

Adventists teach that we should not indulge in the smug saying "I am saved" if that is meant to mean that our destinies are fixed prior to death. We have eternal life at conversion, but not immortality (See 1 Cor 15). If we turn away from that life, we will not retain it and will not be granted immortality.

[The investigative judgment doctrine is unique to Seventh-day Adventists]
Not quite. Nearly every basic aspect of this doctrine has been taught by prominent scholars of other faiths. See point 64 in the following link - A Critique of the Jeremiah Films Video

[The investigative judgment doctrine cannot be supported by the Scriptures.]
False. It can be supported by the Scriptures. See: Investigative Judgment

[The investigative judgment doctrine states that a believer's works determines their salvation.]
Not quite. The investigative judgment doctrine does not teach that the believer's works determine his salvation in the sense meant by the typical evangelical when he says, "I'm saved."

Referenced: - The web location of the most of the above questions.

Recommended Reading:

1844: Embattled Yet Enduring
A Critique of the Jeremiah Films Video : Seventh-day Adventism - The Spirit Behind the Church
Sanctuary Doctrine - cultic or biblical?