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Why do Seventh-day Adventists believe in a heavenly sanctuary and some kind of “investigative judgment”?

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Why do Seventh-day Adventists believe in a heavenly sanctuary and some kind of “investigative judgment”? Isn’t this stuff based on Ellen White’s writings and not on the Bible? And why do we need to be “investigated,” since Jesus has already promised us salvation?


Steve Answers:

Seventh-day Adventists believe in a heavenly sanctuary because the Bible talks about it. According to Hebrews 9:11: “So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that great, perfect sanctuary in heaven, not made by human hands and not part of this created world” (NLT).*

And Seventh-day Adventists believe in an “investigative judgment” because the Bible talks about it. According to Daniel 7:9: “I watched as thrones were put in place and the Ancient One [God] sat down to judge” (NLT).
 
See, Seventh-day Adventists take the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14 quite seriously. The first angel’s message is a call to everyone on the earth to turn to God. It continues in Revelation 14:7: “‘Fear God,’ he shouted. ‘Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all the springs of water’” (NLT). Did you pick out the word “judge” in those verses?
 
You suggested in your question that these Seventh-day Adventist beliefs are based on Ellen White’s writings and not on the Bible. Already in the first three paragraphs of my response to your question, I’ve mentioned three books in the Bible. I assure you that the belief in the heavenly sanctuary and in some kind of “investigative judgment” is based on the Bible.
 
It’s true that Ellen White received visions about the heavenly sanctuary and wrote about it after the early Adventists had already studied it and were convicted that Christians at that time had either ignored or overlooked these passages of Scripture.
 
You asked, “Why do we need to be ‘investigated,’ since Jesus has already promised us salvation?” The answer is, salvation is not based on an investigation. It’s based on whether or not you have Jesus. I suppose that the question “Do you have Jesus?” is a type of “investigation.”
 
Certainly God doesn’t need any type of investigation to find out whether or not we should be saved. According to Paul: “God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are his’” (2 Timothy 2:19, NLT). You can read more about this in Acts 15:8 and Luke 16:15.
 
From what the Bible says, it doesn’t seem as though God will be surprised on judgment day, but many on earth will be! The sheep and goats in Matthew 25:31-46 both seem surprised. And their part in any investigation takes place after judgment day, not before it, according to Revelation 20:4, 11-15 and 1 Corinthians 6:2, 3.Two of Jesus’ parables also hint at this. 
 
The parable of the wheat and weeds in Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 includes both types of plants. The owner, God, says they are to grow together until the harvest. Jesus explained the harvest as the end of the world, when He will send His angels to separate the good from the evil.
 
This basic message gets repeated a few verses later in Matthew 13:47-51 with a dragnet that gathers all kinds of fish—and other things—and then the contents get sorted. “That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the godly” (Matthew 13:49, NLT).
 
If God doesn’t need to find out what He already knows, and if God’s people on earth find out after judgment day, who needs this investigation of God’s people before He takes them to heaven? Who’s left?
 
 Well, Satan and his evil angels are. But Revelation 12:10 says they simply want to accuse God’s people and keep them from getting to heaven.
Who else is left?  The good angels and any created beings on other planets that God has made.
 
Because we are naturally egocentric, we think that God’s judgment is all about us. It’s not; it’s about God!  When the first angel of Revelation 14 proclaims in verse 7, “The hour of his judgment has come,” the angel means that God is the one on trial, not us. We’re merely evidence in the trial.
 
Satan has accused God of unfairly coercing His created beings ever since there was war in heaven. The “investigation” is more about God being true and straight in contrast to Satan’s claims. As a result, Satan and his schemes are fully exposed.
 
I do think that because we are part of the evidence, to some extent we’re in the hot seat as well. Whose side are we on in this showdown? If we’re on God’s side, we can get ready to celebrate, because He’s about to be vindicated for all time. That’s a nice side to be on! If we’re on Satan’s side, we’ll be going down . . . way down . . . down for good!
 
Before God takes His people to heaven, I’d think that the rest of the inhabitants in heaven would want some assurance that the renegades from planet Earth are safe to let into heaven, since our track record isn’t very exemplary. The evidence seems to be that those who go from earth to heaven will be the ones “covered” by Jesus instead of trying to look good on our own (see Matthew 22:2-14).
 
When Jesus gets investigated by the universe and He calls on you to be evidence for Him, what will that evidence be? Will it be pro-Jesus, pro-Satan, pro-you, or undecided? This is when you want to cling to Jesus and let Him cover you. Put it all on the line for Him, and I’d say to do it right now!
 
Then you’ll be able to live what Jesus said in John 5:24: “I assure you, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life” (NLT).
 
*Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.


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