In the conflict between Christ and Satan one should be aware of the weapons Satan uses in his attempts to tear down truth and elevate error. One scheme is to make error tangible. He marches relics, images, beads, incense, pronouncements, religious incantations, physical sensations, rituals of every sort, through the hallways of the five senses. Every faculty of perception is appealed to. Masterfully, the prince of darkness manipulates the multiplied billion strings of human puppets filling the world who respond to his handling. These live in a world of sensation. Another weapon of his is to divest the gospel of reality. Thus he dresses up error with tangibility and denudes truth of the same. His success in stripping truth of reality is equal to that of giving tactile dimensions to falsehood.
Clarifying examples include Creation week and sanctuary doctrines. We believe six literal days of twenty-four hours each were used by God to bring into existence our world from nonexistent materials (see Testimonies to the Church, volume 8, page 258) and to construct vegetation, animals, and man. We believe that laws of nature were created by God. We believe that God is the God of nature, not its servant. We believe in a nonmetaphorical, nonallegorical, nonfigurative seventh-day Sabbath of twenty-four hours composed of sixty minutes, each Sabbath beginning at a precise time known as sunset and actually lasting until the following sunset. (By the way, even the time of sunset is attested to by astronomers in any given locality.) We further believe that this Sabbath and a seven-day week are identical to the original pattern established in Eden. We believe in two distinct phases of Christ's high priestly ministry in the heavenly sanctuary. We believe we are now living during the second and final phase of His ministry, termed the investigative judgment, during which the destinies of all men are irrevocably settled prior to Christ's second coming. The actuality of these beliefs, plus others, based on Scripture are constantly being assaulted by some within and many without our ranks.
Some intelligent minds attempting to synthesize the greatness of God and the finiteness of man have a tendency to spiritualize divine realities away. This de-literalization process undoubtedly delights Satan. He is thrilled to see the literalness of God's heavenly kingdom and His program of salvation erased from men's minds. Those who encourage this course are equally in error as those who anthropomorphize and seek to find heavenly counterparts for every detail of God's object lessons such as the sanctuary services and Christ's parables. A true balance must be maintained when studying God's present and future plans for man.
I well remember an episode during a visit to Borneo. A primitive Adventist village was filled with people who had never seen a modern city such as New York. A group of men gathered around me one night in my hotel but and asked me about places and things in my homeland. Referring to the big cities, factories, and highways, which they had seen only in magazine pictures, they were eager to know if they really existed. Through verbal means, I did my best to make graspable the monstrous steel, brick, and glass skyscrapers, subway systems, factories, airports, docks, ocean liners, highways, and all the rest. After finishing my exposition, if I could have perceived both sides of the picture—my side of experimental knowledge and their side of imaginative concepts due to my explanations—I probably would have been astonished at the great gulf between what I knew existed and what they thought existed.
Empire State Building and Nepa Huts
How could you really understand and sense the amazing proportions and grace of the Empire State Building or the George Washington Bridge if you never saw a building higher than a nepa but built on stilts or if you never viewed a bridge any wider, stronger, or greater than several bamboo poles supported by forest vines. Compare a complex system of asphalt and cement superhighways threading through mountains, valleys, and plains with mud-caked trails and hard-beaten footpaths. What concept would you ever have of massive, intricate highway cloverleafs, toll booths, white-tiled tunnels, and smooth concrete road ribbons crisscrossing an empire if you knew the jungle trail system only?
For the man in Borneo to spiritualize the reality of things away simply because he cannot fathom or envision them, in no sense destroys their existence. Or for the Borneoite to elevate Americans to glory heights and say they are above concrete, steel, glass, things, places, because of their fabulous power and greatness is toying with foolishness. This same foolishness is exhibited by those who take spiritual things and push them outside the framework of tangibleness. Hear them absurdly exclaim, "God is above time, record books, throne, Most Holy Place, or an investigative judgment!" Theoretically He may be, but in actuality He is not. Divorcing spiritual concepts from reality spells disaster. Concepts and ideas must have legs if they are going to walk meaningfully through our hearts. A starving man receives no help from the individual who describes food and then denies its existence.
An "eye hath not seen" attitude is fine as long as one believes that the eye will see something eventually. To admit that now "we see through a glass, darkly" should accompany a strong belief that there will be a day when we will see things, individuals, places, and events clearly.
What About the Investigative Judgment?
This brings me to the investigative judgment. Unbelievers stumble over the reality of Christ's high priesthood, a heavenly sanctuary, the definite time of October 22, 1844, when Christ began His work of investigation, record books, recording angels, heavenly court-case decisions, ending of probationary time, blotting out of sins, and other relevant sanctuary doctrinal details.
In view of these doubts, which will not only continue but increase until the end of time, the ministry of this church should know for a certainty that our movement has made a tremendous contribution to the world in setting forth clearly the importance and procedures of the judgment. Sincere Christians of other churches have difficulty in understanding the significant and momentous events connected with the judgment. It is not an exaggeration to state that unless the concept of the investigative judgment is understood, the whole idea of a final judgment is vague and obscure. The only mental picture many Christians have of the judgment is that of a person prostrated before a majestic God who in thunderous tones consigns the cringing litigant to heaven or hell. Perhaps the majority of Christians could be classified in a second group who have no idea or concept of the judgment at all. It is a misfortune to be in either of these groups.
Adventists can bridge this theological canyon by presenting to the world the reality and solemnity of the investigative judgment which started 121 years ago this month and is now in progress. This truth in the setting of the 2300-year prophecy is one of a very few doctrines distinctive with Seventh-day Adventists. This fact coupled with the unmistakable evidence of our Lord's soon return should compel us to present this truth more widely and fully than ever before. The Advent Movement and the doctrine of the investigative judgment are inseparably bound together. To modify or minimize the doctrine of the investigative judgment in this calamitous hour can only result in the loss of souls and the weakening of the structure of truth.
Lessons From the F.B.I.
The more complex an establishment is on this earth the more highly organized and detailed it is. Institutions of science with a collection of the most brilliant minds on earth are fanatical record keepers of past and present experiments. A trip through the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington, D.C., proves this organization to be another exhibition of infinite, deliberate patience in careful and exact examinations, measurements, tests and the keeping of accurate and prodigious records.
Are God's affairs less exacting and realistic? Why should any act on earth be classified under the heading "realistic" and then declare the recording and judging of that act by a personal God unrealistic and hypothetical? True, the investigative judgment is not primarily for God's benefit, as Desmond Ford so ably points out in the following article, but rather to publicize His justice and love before the universe. Yet this does not take away the realism of the judgment and the details connected with it.
Life becomes ungeared when the reality and exactness of the investigative judgment are fogged by doubt and unbelief. Standards fall, barriers collapse, when God's accounting system is discredited. Motivation of fear is to be avoided, but respect and love can be based only upon methodical business-like principles. Who cares for a god whose whimsical traits overlook details which make up the sum total of life itself? Who can respect a supreme authority who runs his government erratically and haphazardly? Love demands judgment—exact judgment, detailed judgment, righteous judgment. When every knee shall bow of both saint and sinner alike, then will climax the authenticity, reliability and absolute tangibility of an investigative judgment.
Our movement comes into focus through an understanding of the investigative judgment. This doctrine stands unique in that it is being proclaimed simultaneously with its actual execution in the supreme court of Heaven. No movement on earth has had the solemn privilege of declaring to the world a message which is directly connected with a special and definite program operating in heaven. Before 1844 men could have preached that an investigative judgment was coming, but only since 1844 can men preach "the hour of his judgment is come." Little wonder that Satan today works feverishly to blind the minds and hearts of men against the truth of the investigative judgment.
"Satan invents unnumbered schemes to occupy our minds, that they may not dwell upon the very work with which we ought to be best acquainted. . . . The precious hours, instead of being given to pleasure, to display, or to gain-seeking, should be devoted to an earnest, prayerful study of the Word of truth. The subject of the sanctuary and the investigative judgment should be clearly understood by the people of God. All need a knowledge for themselves of the position and work of their great High Priest. Otherwise, it will be impossible for them to exercise the faith which is essential at this time, or to occupy the position which God designs them to fill."—The Great Controversy, p. 488. (Italics supplied.)
Go forward, fellow ministers, and preach the reality of God and heaven. GOD EXISTS. HIS WORD IS REAL. HIS JUDGMENT IS CERTAIN. OUR LORD'S RETURN IS LITERAL. The certainty of these truths makes life worth living now and forever.