THE INVESTIGATIVE JUDGMENT: MAN VINDICATES GOD

 

By Rick Barker

 

I would like to provide a brief description of just how false the investigative judgment doctrine is when viewed closely. Not only are key elements of the doctrine based on assumptions that cannot be verified from Scripture, but the doctrine results in salvation coming from the creature rather than from the Creator. I will start with a quick overview of the key points of the investigative judgment doctrine:

1) Satan has charged God with being unfair and with creating a law that cannot be kept.

2) God must be vindicated of these charges in front of the angels and of the people on other planets who have never sinned.

3) In order to be vindicated, God must prove that His law can be kept and that He is fair.

4) Jesus came in sinful flesh to provide our example of how to keep the law.

5) A group of people in the final days will keep the law just as completely as Jesus did and thereby provide the final answer to Satan’s charge that God was unfair, thus fully vindicating God in front of the universe.

Each of these five points is dependent upon all the other four in order for the doctrine to be true, so a failure in even one of these points refutes the doctrine. As we will see, there are serious weaknesses in each of the points.

There is no scriptural account of Satan bringing either of these charges (that God is unfair or that His law cannot be kept) against God. This supposed Satanic accusation is an assumption that is at the heart of Adventist theology and practice. Consider this: all the remaining assumptions and components of the investigative judgment depend upon this one point. According to Adventist doctrine, the entire process of humans vindicating God by perfectly keeping the law is required in order to refute Satan’s charge and to prove God is fair. Yet this supposed charge is not recorded anywhere in Scripture.

Adventists base the idea that God must be vindicated of these charges on Job1:6-12 and Ezekiel 36:23. Here are the texts:

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. The LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD (Job 1:6-12).

And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes (Ez. 36:23).

The text in Job gives no indication that God must vindicate anything about Himself. Satan is accusing Job of insincerity by suggesting that God has “bought” his loyalty. It is a complete misuse of the text for Adventists to attempt to prove that Satan accused God of creating an unfair law. The context of Job does not support this conclusion.

Furthermore, the text in Ezekiel provides no evidence about God vindicating His name against any charges brought by Satan. There is nothing in either of these verses nor in any of Scripture suggesting anyones vindicates God’s name in order to disprove satanic claims that God’s law cannot be kept. Furthermore, there is nothing in these texts nor anywhere else in Scripture about vindicating God’s name to the angels and the unfallen people of other planets.

 

Gospel Denial

The invention of a claim that God must have His name vindicated in order to counter Satan’s claims against Him is enough to create an unbiblical system of theology. By teaching that law-keeping is necessary to vindicate God’s name, by saying that Jesus came in sinful flesh in order to be an example to us of how to keep the law, and to say that the last generation on earth before the Lord Jesus comes will perfectly keep that law—all three of these claims deny the grace of God, the identity of Jesus, and the the blood of Jesus, and the true nature of man. They deny the true Gospel.

According to the investigative judgment, the life, death and resurrection of Christ are not the means by which Satan is defeated and vanquished. Instead, Satan’s defeat and the vindication of God will be accomplished by the perfect lives of mortal men following the example of Christ. Since the defeat of Satan and of sin is accomplished by mortal men rather than by Christ who only set the example and made the “down payment”, salvation and eternal life are the results of the lives of men rather than of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

How different is the man-centered theology of the investigative judgment from the proclamation of the Gospel in Romans 5:15-19! Paul is abundantly clear in this chapter that Jesus accomplished all that is needed to complete the reconciliation of God and man:

But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification.7For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.

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Rick Barker

Rick Barker

Rick Barker is a native of Southwestern Ohio and facilitates a weekly Bible study for former and transitioning SDAs in the Dayton, OH area. More information on this study group can be found at www.gracediscovery.org. Rick graduated from Andrews University in 1987 and received a Masters degree from the University of Dayton. He previously served on the staff of the Thomas Bilney Institute for Biblical Research and is an active member of his local Lutheran church. Rick was a volunteer on the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry website for 6 years and remains a participant on the discussion boards. Rick and his wife Sheryl formally left the SDA chuch in 2004. Prior to this they had been active in the Miamisburg and Wilmington Ohio churches.
Rick Barker

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