The Investigative Judgment

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Do Gospel Adventists believe in the investigative judgement? Do we believe that God judges both the righteous and wicked prior to the second coming of Jesus to decide their place in eternity?

The answer to this question is yes. The problem has never been about whether there is an investigative judgement (IJ), but the real issue has been related to the nature of the IJ. The traditional view leans heavily on character perfection as a prerequisite to passing through the judgment into eternity, while gospel adventists believe that christians already have the final verdict in their possession as a result of the gift of salvation.

Genuine Christians have nothing to worry about as they wear the perfect robes of Christ’s righteousness. However, false christians who lean on their own self-righteousness will be wiped off the books.

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” (John 3:36, NIV).”The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.” (Revelation 3:5, NIV).

My own questions regarding the 2300 days prophecy that ended in 1844, is two fold: a). Could Christ have returned prior to 1844? b). When did Christ enter the Most Holy Place?

My understanding is that Christ could have come anytime after his ascension if the gospel had gone to the entire world. The problem with the traditional view that states Christ waited in the Holy Place until 1844 and then moved into the Most Holy Place to begin the judgment phase of His work is ruled out by the Bible that clearly states: “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.” (Hebrews 9:12, NIV).

The question has never been about the existence of a judgment, but the argument has been over the validity of the 2300 days prophecy. However, I remain open minded on this topic. If the 2300 days prophecy is true then it does nothing to rob me of my faith in the gospel. I already have the final verdict: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1, NIV).

~Stephen Beagles

The Vision of 21st Century Gospel Adventism

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The Seventh-day Adventist church founded by James White, Ellen White, and Joseph Bates, started out as a progressive movement that resisted the biblical dogmatism of its day. The scholars in the church were consistently revising its biblical theology as new information was received through Bible study and prayer. It was with much reluctance that the Adventist church began to solidify its teachings into what have now become its 28 fundamental beliefs. Adventists desperately wanted to move away from the traditionalism of the past and accept only those beliefs and practices that could be proved from Holy Scripture.

Ellen White was regarded as an authoritative source of truth, although she never originated any doctrinal beliefs. Mrs. White only accepted those truths that were explained to her from the Scriptures. Once she had taken a position based on Bible teachings, she would receive a message from God that confirmed the doctrinal position. On occasion she would reject a teaching that God had shown her was in contradiction with the established truths of the Bible.

In 1888, Ellen White realized the need to shift the church’s focus away from teaching the distinctive doctrines of the denomination to a more Christ-centered approach. Every doctrine was to be taught only in the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, a few within the denomination were worried about losing the distinctive doctrines of the Seventh-day Adventist church, and many saw the new approach to evangelism as a compromise instead of a correction. Unfortunately, many of those resistant to the new focus on righteousness by faith were established leaders within the denomination.

Since those early days, Adventists were split into two major camps of theology. The law Adventists believed genuine faith equated to keeping the 10 commandments, and “righteous by faith” Adventists promoted a righteousness from God apart from law keeping. Since the major split in 1888, the two camps within Adventism have been worshipping together in the same churches, and debating the proper way to define the gospel, for over 120 years. It is often hard to identify the division within the churches, because they all use the same doctrinal language. The problem is that those in the two camps define many theological terms much differently resulting in doctrinal tension and confusion.

Every few decades there seems to be a pendulum shift within the leadership of the church between those who focus on the law and character perfection and those who place the gift of salvation at the center of evangelism. Occasionally, the tension builds and mini theological explosions occur that result in many walking away from the general conference and joining independent Adventist groups. One of the most recent examples of this happened in glacier view in the 1980s when Desmond Ford began identifying serious problems with the traditional view of the investigative judgment.

The 1980s began a serious time of doctrinal soul searching as the scholars and administrators battled for the heart and soul of the organization. It was out of this tension that gospel Adventism began to take shape within the organization. Gospel Adventism is the synthesis between the teachings of traditional Adventism (thesis) and the doctrines of liberal Adventism (anti-thesis). While the seed was planted in the early 1980s, the movement is beginning to blossom in the 21st century.

Gospel Adventism is not a choice between traditional Adventism and a new theology. Gospel Adventism is both traditional and gospel centered. In fact, gospel Adventists understand the best way to explain traditional Adventist theology is in light of the cross of Christ and the gospel of Jesus. We see Jesus in all of the doctrines of the Bible—especially in the sanctuary and investigative judgment doctrines of the Adventist church.

Not one distinctive doctrine of Adventism is lost when proclaimed in the full light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The major difference between traditional and gospel Adventism is the focus is always on Jesus and the free gift of salvation that He purchased on the cross. The vision of Gospel Adventism is to interpret all doctrines of the Bible in light of the free gift of eternal life for all who place their simple faith in the merits of their crucified savior—Jesus Christ.

~Stephen Beagles

How to Hear the Voice of God

 

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Many people wonder how God speaks to me. How can I claim to speak the words of God unless I am able to discern the voice of God?

It took me awhile to be able to explain how I am able to separate the word of God from my own inner voice. The simplest way to describe the process is that everything—every thought, feeling, emotion, impulse, and experience– must be filtered through a knowledge of the written word of God. The noise must be filtered out. The “still small voice” can only be heard when all the static created by the world, the flesh, and the devil, is filtered out. Even then, it is not audible to our human ears, but is understood as a quiet whisper inside the heart.

Read the following verses of scripture:

(a). “After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:12, NIV).

(b). “’This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people” (Jeremiah 31:33, NIV).

(c). “I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand– I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people'” (Isaiah 51:13, NIV).

(d). “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20, KJV).

If you filter the above paragraph through these scriptures then you are able to get the basics of what I am saying about how God speaks to His people. Anyone can hear the voice of God if they tune their hearts to understanding the word of God communicated to the ancient prophets. The “noise” of the world must be filtered out through the truth of the Holy Scripture. The gentle whisper, consistent with the revealed truths of the Bible, is the voice of God.

Of course, God can speak to us directly using more dramatic methods such as personal visitation, visions, dreams, angelic visits, or an audible voice from heaven. However, these are rare and, more often than not, can be a counterfeit message sent by a fallen angel.

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1, NIV).

And when God speaks to us then we are accountable for being obedient to His voice. It is our divine responsibility to follow through with what He is asking of us. The more obedient we are to His commands, the more clearly we are able to decipher His messages to us.

“We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands” (1 John 2:3, NIV).

In my own life, I have learned the scriptures by reading and studying the Holy Bible and by listening to ministers who have received a word from God to share with other people. God has allowed me to share in the ministry of the gospel by teaching others the divine plan of salvation. God grants me wisdom that I might share the knowledge of His divine plan with others by using my spiritual gifts to His name’s honor and glory. God has allowed me to use my writing as a way to minister to other people.

Recently, God spoke to my heart through the writings of a special prophetic messenger of her time, Ellen White who received numerous visions, dreams, and angelic visitations. This is what she says about the spiritual gift of writing:

“The pen is a power in the hands of men who feel the truth burning upon the altar of their hearts, and who have an intelligent zeal for God, balanced with sound judgment. The pen, dipped in the fountain of pure truth, can send beams of light to dark corners of the earth, which will reflect its rays back, adding new power, and giving increased light to be scattered everywhere.”

I know that when God speaks to me that His desire is to speak through me to the rest of the world. He is also willing to use your talents to His name’s honor and glory. Tune your hearts to His word, and tell others of the wisdom that He imparts to you as His ambassadors of truth.

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” 2 Corinthians 5:20, NIV).

~Stephen Beagles