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A Response to the Video:
Seventh-day Adventism, the Spirit Behind the Church

by Bob Pickle

Answers to Questions Raised by:
Mark Martin, Sydney Cleveland
Dale Ratzlaff, The White Lie
. . . and
Others

Discern Fact from Fiction


Salvation, Cont.; Conditional Immortality

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#156, #157, & #158: "Salvation by grace through faith alone is the heart of the gospel. But the Adventist doctrine of the 1844 investigative judgment colors all their major doctrines. It was because of this false teaching also known as the pre-advent judgment, which amounts to nothing more than a judgment of works which determines salvation, that the unbiblical doctrine of soul sleep was introduced. Obviously, you couldn't have believers going to heaven when they died before their lives were supposedly judged. What if they hadn't been good enough? They'd have to leave heaven, right?"—Mark Martin.

#156: A pre-advent judgment of works is incompatible with the gospel of grace. This statement contradicts Holy Scripture.

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

The Greek is a little more emphatic. "Is come" is in the aorist tense, the equivalent of our past tense. Thus we have an angel who in his preaching of the gospel is declaring to all the world that, "The judgment has already begun."

The next event portrayed is the second coming:

And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. (Rev. 14:14-16)

Thus before the second coming we have as part of the gospel a message that the judgment has already commenced. If the gospel of grace cannot include such a pre-advent judgment, then Paul's gospel of grace is different than the gospel this angel is preaching. Yet that is impossible:

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (Gal. 1:8, 9)

So the true gospel of grace must be compatible with a pre-advent judgment. But is that pre-advent judgment a judgment of works? As we saw under #62, it most definitely is.

For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. (Eccl. 12:14)

But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. (Mat. 12:36, 37)

Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts. (1 Cor. 4:5)

So the pre-advent judgment doesn't stop at just works. Our words, yes, even the thoughts of our hearts will be considered. But will this judgment "determine salvation"? The answer depends on what you mean by salvation. Do you mean conversion, forgiveness, and justification? Or do you mean actually arriving in heaven (see #66 and #143)?

Adventists have taught for over a century that conversion and justification must take place before an individual is judged in the judgment announced in Revelation 14: [p. 106]

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. "Judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel?" 1 Peter 4:17.—Great Controversy, p. 480.

Therefore Adventists do not believe that the judgment determines salvation when the term is defined as conversion or justification. However, they do believe that the judgment determines who will arrive in heaven. This idea Jesus clearly taught in Matthew 12:36, 37.

Why does Jesus say that our words will "determine our salvation"? Mr. Martin's own statements under #153 and #155 reveal the answer: Our words and our actions show whether or not we love Jesus, and whether or not we have allowed the gospel of grace to take root in our lives. If there is no fruit, the root either never grew or must have died.

Our words and actions also reveal whether we have really accepted the terms of the New Covenant, whether we have allowed Jesus to write His law in our hearts and minds (Heb. 8:10). The pre-advent judgment merely reveals who is really a New Covenant, New Testament Christian, and who is not.

The documentation package lists in its index as "Point 72" the charge that Adventists believe that "Believers must keep the Law to be saved, and will be judged by their works." When one turns to "Point 72," one finds the ninth paragraph of an article in the August 28, 1894, issue of the Review and Herald. Of the 39 lines of this paragraph, 30 are direct quotes of Bible verses in quotation marks. That leaves only 9 lines actually written by Mrs. White, lines which to some degree are allusions to and paraphrases of both the Scriptures quoted and other Scriptures not quoted. Every Scripture quoted or alluded to is found in the New Testament! So this charge against Adventists must be really a charge against the teachings of the New Testament! The evidence is in the documentation package for all to see.

#157: Soul sleep was introduced because of the investigative judgment. This is simply untrue, as brought out under #59.

The teaching that only God is immortal (1 Tim. 6:15, 16), that the dead will receive their reward at the resurrection instead of before, and that the dead "know not anything" (Eccl. 9:5, 6) was introduced among Millerites before 1844. Mrs. White's family accepted it then, as the context for the statement under "Point 33" in the documentation package clearly shows.

The video makes a major point of the investigative judgment doctrine being developed after 1844. That makes the doctrine of "soul sleep" older than the doctrine of the investigative judgment, not vice versa.

#158: The doctrine of soul sleep is unbiblical. During the Reformation, many individuals went back to the Scriptures as the only authority for faith and practice. Men like John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, Martin Luther, and a host of others, including many Anglicans and Anabaptists, while studying the Bible became convicted that the dead are asleep (see #92). If the doctrine of soul sleep, also known as conditional immortality, is so unbiblical, pray tell where did all these men of God come up with the idea from?

Actually, Mr. Martin is inadvertently making a powerful argument, drawn from the Holy Scriptures, for the doctrine of soul sleep. Jesus said, "And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be" (Rev. 22:12). He passes out His rewards at the second coming, not before.

And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. (Rev. 11:18)

Thus the judgment precedes the giving out of rewards at the second coming. What are the dead doing until then, and where?

The doctrine of the immortality of the soul calls into question certain key biblical teachings. To use Mr. Martin's illustration, if the dead already have their reward, why do we need a judgment?

"I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:1-3). If the dead in Christ are already with Jesus, why does He need to return to get them? Why do we need a second coming?

There is but one text in the New Testament that says what to preach at funerals (1 Th. 4:18). In that passage Paul points the bereaved to the hope of the resurrection. That is when they will live again. But if our loved ones are already in heaven, why do we need a resurrection?

Under "Point 78" in the documentation package is a [p. 107] tract from MacGregor Ministries dealing with hell. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus is cited (Luke 16:19-31), which is a popular text among those who believe that our souls are innately immortal.

Yet this parable, if it really does bolster the idea that our souls are immortal, would also teach us that our souls have eyes, tongues, chests, and fingers. If our soul is immortal, and if our soul has all the parts that our body does, why do we need a resurrection?

Now for the most serious question of all: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). If it is true that we cannot die and are already immortal, then why do we need to believe on Jesus in order to have eternal life? We already have it!

On the other hand, if we must accept Jesus as our Savior in order to have eternal life, we therefore are not naturally, innately immortal. So which is it? Must we accept Christ in order to have eternal life, or are our souls already immortal?

In conclusion, while "soul sleep" is far from being unbiblical, the doctrine of innate immortality calls into question the gospel, the resurrection, the second coming, and the judgment.

A Response to the Video

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