A Matter of the Heart

I have been thinking about the Investigative Judgment and all the theological reasons, arguments, and details that many of us worry about, discuss, have even argued over in some cases! But if all we have is the theoretical head knowledge, none of it really matters very much. I have been impressed lately that the Investigative Judgment is a matter of the heart.

It is a funny thing that words and phrases carry baggage with them—connotations and assumptions that we don’t even examine and can color our theology and concepts. For example: the word judgment. Immediately it seems to imply harshness, especially when you think of the word judgmental. But when you really think about it, a judgment is only a decision, an opinion, a belief that something or someone is telling the truth or not. You are trusting that the person you have made a decision about is worthy of that trust.

When I was dating my future wife, I was judging her. See how harsh that sounds? It sounds judicial and uncompromising. But really I was forming an opinion about her, and she of me. My question was: could I trust her with the deepest heart issues in my life? Trust her not to gossip about the less desirable traits that she was bound to find. Could she trust me to do the same? Could she trust me to even vigorously defend her against others who might attack her physically, emotionally, or verbally?

What was the glue that was holding all of these aspects together about judging my future wife; putting her on trial so to speak—and putting myself on trial for her judgment of me? LOVE. We both were trying to decide if this was someone we could live with the rest of our lives! As we interacted and shared over time, misunderstandings did and still occur. How these difficulties were dealt with helped confirm our decisions about each other. Trust, faith, and love were all developing between us; and continue even today!

Christ says that He will reign forever, and that we will reign with Him forever! The decision about what God is like, and to be absolutely sure that I want Him as the absolute ruler of the universe forever, is much more important and obviously a much more lengthy commitment than marriage for only a lifetime! For example, if I am happy with the belief He will burn the wicked forever and ever, then that is the kind of government and tyrant I am willing to trust and live with forever! This judgment, decision, development of opinion and trust; having the faith-trust in or of Christ Jesus, is the process of placing the Seal of God in the forehead—a settling in of a conscious decision that will not and cannot be shaken—therefore sealed. This is just like getting married, which is exactly what is happening. We are getting ready for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb!

Jesus promises to give us a white stone with our new name written on it, that no one else knows but He! This indicates a very personal relationship that cannot and will not ever be shared with anyone else! Jesus is our lover, and loving anyone or anything other than Him is described as adultery. This is why the breastplate is on His heart! The breastplate of decision, of trust, of faith—The Breastplate of Judgment!

Can I trust God to save me from sin; to give me the power to overcome all sin? If I don’t believe or trust the promise or the One who gives the promise, I will never claim it. Can the angels trust God that those He is bringing home will not start another rebellion? God has placed His trust-faith in us that we can overcome. We are developing trust-faith in His word, His promises, and His righteousness to become ours—not just as a covering, but as our essence internally! This is the meaning of the white stone! We are white throughout—not just on the surface. And the new name He writes there signifies our own unique character!

How long does it take to build trust in a brand new relationship? How long does it take to rebuild trust with a relationship where trust has been broken? Is the judgment harsh and something to be feared? Not if LOVE is the basis for that decision!

Dennis Hollingsead works in the Office of Development at Andrews University. This devotional was previously published in the Pioneer Memorial Church Bulletin. It has been reprinted here with permission from the author.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7187

Why try to stuff the Gospel of Grace in a fairy tale? tom Z


One such word is “Investigative.”


this is EXACTLY how i feel…

i think about the joy of the investigative judgment almost constantly…as i understand it, jesus is supplementing my spirit-mediated efforts with his own perfect righteousness, meaning it’s impossible for me to fall short of the standard of perfection god is using…this is all so exciting…i wish i could somehow ascend into heaven and see it all happening…


Thanks for a really positive meditation and contribution. Such things are really a rarity on this site!

You are correct! God’s love is the basis for his decisions in the judgement. The love that was poured out on a hill just outside Jerusalem.

And that is exactly why the foundation for a correct understanding of the judgement pictured for us in Daniel chapter 8 is to be found in a prior understanding of God’s love in Daniel chapter 9.

One of the ways of rethinking a controversial belief, is to spiritualize it in an affirming way that seeks to protect its historical legitimacy without having to continue to literalize it. In that tradition this homily works well, to the degree that salvation is like modern courtship and marriage. The bible, however, knows nothing of salvation as analogues to a contemporary Western courtship ritual.

Could salvation be more like the biblical matrimonial metaphor in which the bride (the group who will be saved upon Jesus the bridegroom’s return to claim) was purchased by the groom or the groom’s father and had no say in the marriage?

A more helpful rethinking of the Investigative Judgment may be to address the topic itself, as this treatise does, http://www.rethinkingadventism.com/support-files/cottrell_1844.pdf and as this treatise does https://adventiststudies.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/assumptions-re-1844-full-version.pdf .

The lurking issue is not the Investigative Judgment, of course, but rather to work out just how our church can move away from a teaching many in the church can no longer embrace as substantive to them? Seventh-day Adventists actually have experience in doing this with multiple beliefs across the first few decades after the church’s founding. And forty years after the founding of the church Ellen White in 1892 offered her belief that the church not only had “much to learn” yet, but ‘much, much’ to ‘unlearn.’

Alas, this is not easy work, which is why at the time Ellen White called for the church to reclaim the spirit of its founders, who were willing to embrace one another in a jubilant consensus of God’s presence among them rather than demanding doctrinal consensus.

Meanwhile, we have, it seems, become something of a collector of what we now term Fundamental Beliefs, and increasingly seek to measure members by the beliefs, rather than the beliefs by the members as we fundamentally did during our founding.

I am rather attracted to the sense that revival and reformation will take us back to the founding spirit of the church. So far the leadership clamor for revival and reformation has failed to move the church in any direction it seems. Indeed, progress as measured by rate of church growth has stalled. We have not even half the members a year-2000 study predicted we would have today if the average rate of growth between 1980 and 2000 were to have continued.

A possible takeaway is that it is really hard to catch the train when having substantially over-baggaged for the journey and there are no porters to assist.


The meaning of the white stone is not totally clear, or agreed upon by commentators, but it seems to be something different than what is posited above. The best idea seems to be that white stones were awarded to the winners of athletic games, with their names written upon them. They served as tickets to the awards banquets that would follow.

Thus, Jesus, in promising a white stone with a new name engraved upon it to those who overcome, is promising admission into the victory banquet, the marriage supper in his eternal kingdom. The new name is the identity of those who have been made new…who have run the race as those who have genuinely identified themselves with him, and with his name. IOW… Jesus is saying, “You won, and you belong here, and it all happened because you really do belong to me!”

The prodigal who came home knew this experience, the celebration of his father’s forgiveness, favor, and love…while the self righteous older brother was still standing outside.




In the book of Revelation Chapter twenty two, Christ states emphatically in verse seven “I am coming SOON” and again in verse twelve “I am coming SOON”. then in verse twenty: “SURELY I am coming SOON”

The King James Version has muddied the text for us by translating the word “soon” as “quickly” but the newer translations, as well as the French, Dutch and Spanish Bibles have always translated the word as “soon”.

This was brought home to me when I attended the Adventist church in Nice, France, near which I own a home. On the wall behind the pulpit they had printed in neon letters, in French, “I am coming SOON”.

I had an epiphany in that moment: how could Christ proclaim in circa AD 60 that He was coming SOON if he knew that He could not possibly come BEFORE 1844 when He “supposedly” had to enter the Sanctuary?

This would make Him out to be a liar.

At best, our sanctuary and investigative judgement doctrine has tenuous roots.

The best and brightest minds at other theological, seminaries have not subscribed to this doctrine.

I do not believe for a moment that Christians in other denominations will be eternally “lost” because they do not accept the doctrine of the investigative judgement.

Although I am itinerant in my retirement years and attend many Adventist churches, I never hear the investigative judgement preached anymore.

I therefore neither reject it nor accept it, but consider it entirely peripheral to my salvation and depend on Christ’s death on the cross to justify me.

For me the whole debate is inconsequential and a “storm in a teacup”


What detail causes the MOST worry?

…".the hour of His judgment has come"… it is so harsh to some that they teach that we judge God instead of Him judging us.

Maybe the author forgot to include a word in this sentence.
We should love no one else?

Not only it is a trust issue, it is even a doctrinal issue. Do a survey anywhere in SDA land to see what % of SDA even believe they can overcome all sin…even with God’s grace available.

Now because most are not of the overcoming persuasion/theology for whatever reasons…this is a major factor in why so many reject the investigative judgment.

Just check to see how many have ever read “Facing Life’s Record” (The Investigative Judgment) chapter in Great Controversy…

Most will say…the blood has got me covered.

The robust power of a mother’s love freed her child pinned under a car lifts it up as if a feathered hunk of iron let the child go free, that, it is TRUST in jubilant consensus of God’s LOVE for us as well the father to his Prodigal Son. This is a Matter of Heart to what Heart robust in God’s realm.

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