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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

Discern Fact from Fiction

The Investigative Judgment and Shut Door, and Their Ramifications

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#66, #67, & #68: "This central Adventist doctrine, which states that the judgment of believers' works will determine their salvation, is blatantly unbiblical, and is not taught by any legitimate Christian denomination."—Narrator.

#66: They teach that the judgment of believers' works determines their salvation. Technically, using the way evangelicals popularly use the term "saved," this charge is not true.

A lot depends on how we define the term "salvation." The plan of redemption includes a number of aspects:

  1. Justification: pardon and conversion.
  2. Sanctification: the believer's daily growth in Christ.
  3. Glorification: the "redemption of our body" (Rom. 8:23), when we receive bodies that will never die.

Each of these three is a miracle of divine grace and is based on the finished work of Christ on Calvary's cross, not on our own works. Each is likewise made possible today through the intercession of Christ.

Some use the word "salvation" to mean only justification, while others use it to mean both justification and sanctification, while still others use it to mean all three. Later on, the video explicitly uses the term "saved" to mean only justification (see #143). But that cannot be the meaning here, for this statement mentions "believers' works." If they are already believers, then they must be already justified and converted, as well as daily growing in grace. So the video itself is using more than one definition of the word "saved," and the viewer should take note of this fact.

A major problem is that most evangelicals who hear the above statement from the video will think of justification when the video is really referring to glorification.

Adventists do not believe that works determine justification for the simple reason that individuals cannot perform good works (in the New Testament sense) until they are justified and converted. Until that point, all works are tainted by selfishness and are essentially "works of the flesh" (see Gal. 5:16-25).

They do believe, however, that justification occurs on condition of repentance and confession, and most nearly everyone agrees. Repentance and confession do not buy justification and conversion, but they are conditions for receiving this free gift of God.

Adventists also believe that glorification, and the retaining forever of justification and sanctification, are conditional. The investigative judgment determines who has complied with the conditions and who has not. What those conditions are is dealt with under the next point.

Many evangelicals disagree with the concept that glorification is conditional, since many believe that justification cannot be lost. We respect those who disagree, and we hope they will likewise respect us, for this Adventist belief is by no means uncommon in Christianity.

Does one have to accept Christ in order to have one's name written in the book of life?

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life. (John 3:36)

He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. (1 Jn. 5:12)

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already. (John 3:18)

These texts indicate that the answer is yes. Only the names of believers are written there. Once written, can they ever be blotted out?

Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin—; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. (Ex. 32:32, 33)

Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous. (Ps. 69:28)

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

And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (Rev. 22:19)

So it is possible to have one's name blotted out of the book of life. And where do those whose names do not appear there end up? "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into [p. 56] the lake of fire" (Rev. 20:15).

It is apparent, then, that an individual can be justified, and then later turn away from God and be lost. This concept explains the following Scripture, which is difficult to explain otherwise:

Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? (Heb. 10:29)

So someone can be sanctified by the blood of Christ, and then be lost. This is why Peter says, "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure" (2 Pet. 1:10). Just being called and chosen isn't enough. We have to "make" them "sure."

And yet we have Jesus saying:

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. (John 10:27-29)

Notice that it is those that the Father gives to Jesus who can't be taken out of His hand. Now consider the following: "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled" (John 17:12). The Father gave the disciples to Jesus, and "no man" could take them out of Jesus's hand. Yet one was lost, Judas Iscariot. It would appear, then, that "no man" does not include the one who is in the hand. While no one can take us out of Jesus's hand, we can take ourselves out!

#67: This is blatantly unbiblical. Not so. The Bible clearly says that obedience and holiness are conditions for the retention of justification and the reception of glorification:

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. (Heb. 12:14)

For the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:28, 29)

And from the same book in which Paul is so adamant about our not being able to work our way to heaven:

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal. 5:19-21)

Clearly, while we cannot work our way to heaven and we are not saved by works, glorification and the retention of justification are conditional upon obedience and holiness.

#68: The investigative judgment is not taught by any legitimate Christian denomination. Obviously, this begs the question. If the Adventist Church is a Christian denomination, then this statement cannot be true.

Besides, Dan Snyder says under #232, "The last three years have been the most spiritually rewarding of my thirty-one years as a Christian." Will the narrator please take note: Mr. Snyder testifies that he was a Christian for twenty-eight years before leaving the Adventist Church. Therefore, according to the video itself, the Seventh-day Adventist Church must be a Christian denomination.

A Response to the Video

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