Editorial – Is There a Judgment Before the Second Coming?

There are few areas of theology where Adventists have been attacked more than on the teaching of the investigative judgment that occurs before the second coming of Christ. It has been my belief for many years that the investigative judgment is a doctrine that Satan both fears and hates. It has been claimed by theologians that the Bible does not teach this doctrine. However, in looking at just a few texts in the Bible concerning this issue, the teaching is clear on the subject.

“He that overcomes, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” Revelation 3:5.

“The judgment was set, and the books were opened … And the ten horns out of the kingdom [are] ten kings [that] shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak [great] words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and a dividing of time. But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy [it] unto the end.” Daniel 7:10, last part, 24–26.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away: and every [branch] that bears fruit, he purges it, so that it might bear more fruit.” John 15:1, 2.

“And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward [is] with me, to give to every man according as his work shall be.” Revelation 22:12.

“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of the heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, kindred, language, and people. Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment has come; and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” Revelation 14:6, 7.

Notice in Daniel 7 that the judgment begins sometime after the 1260 years of persecution against the saints and lasts “unto the end.” In Revelation 14, the judgment occurs while the gospel is still being preached. In addition to these clear statements there are the many prophetic stories which clearly portray a judgment while the saints are still living on the earth before they are removed from the earth and Satan’s power, and taken to heaven. Prophetic stories like Joshua and the angel in Zechariah 3; the story of the inspection of the wedding guests by the king before they were allowed to go to the wedding supper (Matthew 22:1–14); the story of the 10 virgins which certainly must occur before the bridegroom comes (Matthew 25:1–13); the judgment before the Lord’s coming is a clear Biblical teaching. The real question is, when the end comes, in which of the only two groups available in the judgment, will you be found?