Bible Study Guides – The Investigative Judgment

November 6, 2016 – November 12, 2016

Key Text

“Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after” (I Timothy 5:24).

Study Help: The Great Controversy, 479–491.


“While the investigative judgment is going forward in heaven, while the sins of penitent believers are being removed from the sanctuary, there is to be a special work of purification, of putting away of sin, among God’s people upon earth.” Maranatha, 254.


  • Who has a case pending in judgment? 2 Corinthians 5:10. With whom does it begin? I Peter 4:17.

Note: “As the books of record are opened in the judgment, the lives of all who have believed on Jesus come in review before God. Beginning with those who first lived upon the earth, our Advocate presents the cases of each successive generation, and closes with the living. Every name is mentioned, every case closely investigated.” The Great Controversy, 483.

  • When are most people judged? Hebrews 9:27. Why?
  • On what evidence is the judgment based? Revelation 20:11, 12. What is recorded in the books? Jeremiah 2:22; Malachi 3:16; Nehemiah 13:14.


  • What is the standard by which we are to be judged? James 2:10–12. What is the character of this standard, and what does it require? Psalm 19:7; Matthew 5:48.

Note: “The law of God is the standard by which the characters and the lives of men will be tested in the judgment.” The Great Controversy, 482.

“In His teachings, Christ showed how far-reaching are the principles of the law spoken from Sinai. He made a living application of that law whose principles remain forever the great standard of righteousness—the standard by which all shall be judged in that great day when the judgment shall sit, and the books shall be opened.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 211.

  • What is the penalty for unrighteousness? Romans 6:23. Is there any hope for one with a bad record? I John 2:1, 2.

Note: “The death of the spotless Son of God testifies that ‘the wages of sin is death’ (Romans 6:23), that every violation of God’s law must receive its just retribution. Christ the sinless became sin for man. He bore the guilt of transgression, and the hiding of His Father’s face, until His heart was broken and His life crushed out. All this sacrifice was made that sinners might be redeemed. In no other way could man be freed from the penalty of sin.” The Great Controversy, 540.

  • How are we to receive the propitiation? Romans 3:25; I John 1:9.

Note: “The examples in God’s word of genuine repentance and humiliation reveal a spirit of confession in which there is no excuse for sin or attempt at self-justification. Paul did not seek to shield himself; he paints his sin in its darkest hue, not attempting to lessen his guilt. …

“The humble and broken heart, subdued by genuine repentance, will appreciate something of the love of God and the cost of Calvary; and as a son confesses to a loving father, so will the truly penitent bring all his sins before God. And it is written, ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (I John 1:9).” Steps to Christ, 41.


  • What will happen to those who have truly accepted the Advocate? John 11:25; John 5:24–29.

Note: “All who have truly repented of sin, and by faith claimed the blood of Christ as their atoning sacrifice, have had pardon entered against their names in the books of heaven; as they have become partakers of the righteousness of Christ, and their characters are found to be in harmony with the law of God, their sins will be blotted out, and they themselves will be accounted worthy of eternal life.” The Great Controversy, 483.

  • When Jesus returns, what will He bring with Him, and what does He do with it? Revelation 22:12; 2 Timothy 4:7, 8.
  • What must happen first in order that Christ may reward the faithful? I Timothy 5:24; I Peter 4:17; Luke 20:35, 36.

Note: “Before the final reward is given, it must be decided who are fitted to share the inheritance of the righteous. This decision must be made prior to the second coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven; for when He comes, His reward is with Him, ‘to give every man according as his work shall be’ (Revelation 22:12). Before His coming, then, the character of every man’s work will have been determined, and to every one of Christ’s followers the reward will have been apportioned according to his deeds.

“It is while men are still dwelling upon the earth that the work of investigative judgment takes place in the courts of heaven. The lives of all His professed followers pass in review before God. All are examined according to the record of the books of heaven, and according to his deeds the destiny of each is forever fixed.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 310.

“There will be no future probation in which to prepare for eternity. It is in this life that we are to put on the robe of Christ’s righteousness. This is our only opportunity to form characters for the home which Christ has made ready for those who obey His commandments.” Ibid, 319.


  • What will have happened to the sins of the righteous who receive their reward at the resurrection? Micah 7:19; Isaiah 43:25.

Note: “The work of the investigative judgment and the blotting out of sins is to be accomplished before the second advent of the Lord. Since the dead are to be judged out of the things written in the books, it is impossible that the sins of men should be blotted out until after the judgment at which their cases are to be investigated. But the apostle Peter distinctly states that the sins of believers will be blotted out ‘when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ’ (Acts 3:19, 20). When the investigative judgment closes, Christ will come, and His reward will be with Him to give to every man as his work shall be.” The Great Controversy, 485.

  • Explain how the parable of the unjust servant (Matthew 18:23–35) shows the difference between forgiveness and blotting out. Although we may be faithful today, what sobering reality should keep us ever vigilant? Ezekiel 33:13–16.
  • What happens to the name of an unfaithful person, written in the book of life? Exodus 32:32, 33. How is a name written there in the first place, and whose names will be retained? Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5.

Note: “We are now living in the great day of atonement. In the typical service, while the high priest was making the atonement for Israel, all were required to afflict their souls by repentance of sin and humiliation before the Lord, lest they be cut off from among the people. In like manner, all who would have their names retained in the book of life should now, in the few remaining days of their probation, afflict their souls before God by sorrow for sin and true repentance. There must be deep, faithful searching of heart. … Though all nations are to pass in judgment before God, yet He will examine the case of each individual with as close and searching scrutiny as if there were not another being upon the earth.” The Great Controversy, 489, 490.


  • In order for sins to be blotted out, what must happen first, as described in the parable of the man without a wedding garment? Matthew 22:9–14. What is symbolized by the wedding garment? Revelation 19:8; Philippians 3:9.

Note: “By the king’s examination of the guests at the [wedding] feast is represented a work of judgment. The guests at the gospel feast are those who profess to serve God, those whose names are written in the book of life. …

“By the wedding garment in the parable is represented the pure, spotless character which Christ’s true followers will possess. … It is the righteousness of Christ, His own unblemished character, that through faith is imparted to all who receive Him as their personal Saviour.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 310.

  • What work is Christ doing for each repenting sinner now, and what pronouncement will be made when that work is done? Hebrews 2:17; Revelation 22:11, 12; Daniel 12:1.
  • Since the judgment concludes with the final generation who are judged while living, what is Jesus’ warning to us? Mark 13:33. What assurance do we have? Hebrews 4:14–16; 13:20, 21.

Note: “The judgment is now passing in the sanctuary above. … Soon—none know how soon—it will pass to the cases of the living.” The Great Controversy, 490.


1 Why is the time of judgment such a solemn time in which to live?

2 How can we be sure to be judged “not guilty”?

3 Why must the judgment of professed believers happen before the Second Coming?

4 What is the distinction between forgiveness and blotting out of sins?

5 What experience must Christ’s true followers have who will be judged while living?

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