1. A FINAL MINISTRATION
a. What essential truth about the sanctuary did the Millerites realize they had overlooked? Leviticus 16:29–31; Hebrews 8:1, 2; 9:24.
“The Scriptures were carefully searched with prayer and earnest thought, and after a period of suspense, light poured in upon our darkness; doubt and uncertainty were swept away.
“Instead of the prophecy of Daniel 8:14 referring to the purifying of the earth, it was now plain that it pointed to the closing work of our High Priest in heaven, the finishing of the atonement, and the preparing of the people to abide the day of His coming.”—Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 58.
“In the typical system, which was a shadow of the sacrifice and priesthood of Christ, the cleansing of the sanctuary was the last service performed by the high priest in the yearly round of ministration. It was the closing work of the atonement—a removal or putting away of sin from Israel. It prefigured the closing work in the ministration of our High Priest in heaven, in the removal or blotting out of the sins of His people, which are registered in the heavenly records. This service involves a work of investigation, a work of judgment; and it immediately precedes the coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; for when He comes, every case has been decided.”—The Great Controversy, p. 352.
2. A SOLEMN TIME
a. Ever since the 2300 days ended in 1844, where has our High Priest, Jesus Christ, been ministering, and why is this important? Hebrews 9:1–3; Revelation 3:7; 11:19.
“The time for the commandments of God to shine out with all their importance, and for God’s people to be tried on the Sabbath truth, was when the door was opened in the most holy place in the heavenly sanctuary, where the ark is, in which are contained the ten commandments. This door was not opened until the mediation of Jesus was finished in the holy place of the sanctuary in 1844. Then Jesus rose up and shut the door of the holy place, and opened the door into the most holy, and passed within the second veil, where He now stands by the ark, and where the faith of Israel now reaches.
“I saw that Jesus had shut the door of the holy place, and no man can open it; and that He had opened the door into the most holy, and no man can shut it (Revelation 3:7, 8); and that since Jesus has opened the door into the most holy place, which contains the ark, the commandments have been shining out to God’s people, and they are being tested on the Sabbath question.”—Early Writings, p. 42.
b. What must we realize at this point in history? 1 Timothy 5:24.
“We are in the great day of atonement, when our sins are, by confession and repentance, to go beforehand to judgment. God does not now accept a tame, spiritless testimony from His ministers. Such a testimony would not be present truth. The message for this time must be meat in due season to feed the church of God. But Satan has been seeking gradually to rob this message of its power, that the people may not be prepared to stand in the day of the Lord.
“In 1844 our great High Priest entered the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, to begin the work of the investigative judgment. The cases of the righteous dead have been passing in review before God. When that work shall be completed, judgment is to be pronounced upon the living. How precious, how important are these solemn moments!”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, pp. 124, 125.
3. INVESTIGATION, CASE BY CASE
a. What shows that the Judgment concerns each of us personally? Ecclesiastes 11:9; Matthew 12:36; Daniel 7:9, 10.
“Each of us has a case pending in the court of heaven. We are individually to be judged according to the deeds done in the body. In the typical service, when the work of atonement was performed by the high priest in the most holy place of the earthly sanctuary, the people were required to afflict their souls before God, and confess their sins, that they might be atoned for and blotted out. Will any less be required of us in this antitypical day of atonement, when Christ in the sanctuary above is pleading in behalf of His people, and the final, irrevocable decision is to be pronounced upon every case?”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 125.
b. What should this make us pause to consider? Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14.
“What is our condition in this fearful and solemn time? Alas, what pride is prevailing in the church, what hypocrisy, what deception, what love of dress, frivolity, and amusement, what desire for the supremacy! All these sins have clouded the mind, so that eternal things have not been discerned. Shall we not search the Scriptures, that we may know where we are in this world’s history? Shall we not become intelligent in regard to the work that is being accomplished for us at this time, and the position that we as sinners should occupy while this work of atonement is going forward? If we have any regard for our souls’ salvation, we must make a decided change. We must seek the Lord with true penitence; we must with deep contrition of soul confess our sins, that they may be blotted out.
“We must no longer remain upon the enchanted ground. We are fast approaching the close of our probation. Let every soul inquire, How do I stand before God? We know not how soon our names may be taken into the lips of Christ, and our cases be finally decided. What, oh, what will these decisions be! Shall we be counted with the righteous, or shall we be numbered with the wicked?”—Ibid., pp.125, 126.
“Solemn are the scenes connected with the closing work of the atonement. Momentous are the interests therein involved.”—The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, pp. 314, 315.
4. LOGICAL TIMING
a. Why is the investigative judgment necessary before Christ’s return? Matthew 16:27; Revelation 22:12.
“As anciently the sins of the people were by faith placed upon the sin offering and through its blood transferred, in figure, to the earthly sanctuary, so in the new covenant the sins of the repentant are by faith placed upon Christ and transferred, in fact, to the heavenly sanctuary. And as the typical cleansing of the earthly was accomplished by the removal of the sins by which it had been polluted, so the actual cleansing of the heavenly is to be accomplished by the removal, or blotting out, of the sins which are there recorded. But before this can be accomplished, there must be an examination of the books of record to determine who, through repentance of sin and faith in Christ, are entitled to the benefits of His atonement. The cleansing of the sanctuary therefore involves a work of investigation—a work of judgment. This work must be performed prior to the coming of Christ to redeem His people; for when He comes, His reward is with Him to give to every man according to his works.”—The Great Controversy, pp. 421, 422.
b. With whom does the judgment begin? 1 Peter 4:17.
“In the typical service only those who had come before God with confession and repentance, and whose sins, through the blood of the sin offering, were transferred to the sanctuary, had a part in the service of the Day of Atonement. So in the great day of final atonement and investigative judgment the only cases considered are those of the professed people of God. The judgment of the wicked is a distinct and separate work, and takes place at a later period.”—Ibid., p.480.
c. When and by whom will the wicked be judged? 1 Corinthians 6:2, 3.
“During the thousand years between the first and the second resurrection the judgment of the wicked takes place. . . . It is at this time that, as foretold by Paul, ‘the saints shall judge the world.’ 1 Corinthians 6:2. In union with Christ they judge the wicked.”—Ibid., pp.660, 661.
5. CONFORMING TO THE STANDARD
a. What is God doing by His grace to ensure we pass the final judgment? Romans 8:28, 29; Ephesians 4:11–13.
“God’s object in bringing us to himself is to conform us to the image of Christ.”—The Review and Herald, January 21, 1896.
“The true, humble, earnest Christian will be receiving the mold of a perfect character, and his heart will ever be conforming to the image of Christ. His life will flow out in channels of beneficence and love. Such will be established in God. The work which grace began, if combined with earnest effort to press close to Jesus, glory shall finish in the kingdom of God.”—Ibid., June 3, 1880.
b. Why is God’s law essential in order to conform our character to the image of Jesus? Romans 7:7; 1 Timothy 1:8–10; 1 John 1:9.
“A great work must be done for us all before we will have perfection of Christian character. The law of God is the standard of righteousness. This is the mirror into which we are to look to discern the defects of our character. When we look in a common mirror, it points out to us the defects upon our person, but it does not remove one stain; we must go and wash if we would become clean. So it is with the law of God. It is God’s great mirror, or moral detector of sin; but there is no saving quality in law; it has no power to pardon the transgressor. . . . Then what is the work before the sinner? It is to exercise repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. In his precious blood the stains of sin may all be washed away.”—The Present Truth, November 3, 1885.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why was it important for the Millerites to persevere in their Bible study?
2. What was the significance of the “open and shut door” in Revelation 3?
3. Why is the investigative judgment such an important truth?
4. Why are the righteous and wicked judged at different times?
5. As the law reveals our defects of character, what should we do?