LandMarks Magazine  
   

February 2008 Table of Contents

 
 

Knowing the Shepherd's Voice, Part I
By John J. Grosboll

A

Although there are many, many winds of doctrine by which God’s people are being attacked, if you look at the attacks of our theological opponents, the major attacks tend to focus on two points: (1) the doctrine of the investigative judgment, which, of course, involves a knowledge of the heavenly sanctuary and its services, and (2) the Law of God and, more specifically, the Sabbath.

 

These attacks have been quite severe, and several books have even been written.  In my office, I have a book concerning the doctrines of Seventh-day Adventists that is written by a former Seventh-day Adventist.  He accuses Seventh-day Adventists of being a cult.  If you look through his book, you will see that the main thrust of his argument is an attack against the doctrine of the investigative judgment.  This attack has been so severe that so-called Seventh-day Adventist theologians say that they cannot find this doctrine in the Bible.

 

I will show you the doctrine of the investigative judgment shortly.  It is not difficult to find; it is very plain.  Look at Daniel 7.  This is one of the few chapters in the Bible that is written in the Aramaic language.  That in itself is significant, since this is found in that passage, but that is another subject. 

 

“I was looking until thrones were set up [the translation ‘cast down’ is incorrect; it should be ‘set up’ or ‘placed’], and the Ancient of Days did sit; whose robe was as white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool.  His throne was like flames of fire, its wheels were like burning fire; A river of fire issued and ran down from before Him.  Thousand thousands before Him served, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him.  The court was set, and the books were opened.”  Verses 9, 10.

 

If you did not have any other text in the whole Bible about the investigative judgment, this would be enough to make it crystal clear in your mind that there is a judgment.  This is a judgment in heaven.  The description is at the throne of God.  He is there, and hundreds and hundreds of millions of angels are present.  It says, “The court was set, and the books were opened.”  How much plainer can you say it?  I do not know any clearer way than this that a prophet could write about the fact that there is a judgment in which the cases of men will be investigated. 

 

Incidentally, from a study of Daniel 7:25 and 26, where the court is spoken of again in verse 26, you can figure out about when the judgment would begin.  You can figure out that it was to begin shortly after 1798. 

Another passage that refers to a judgment is Revelation 14:6, 7: “And I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to proclaim to those who dwell upon the earth—every nation, and tribe, and language, and people—saying with a great voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, because the hour of His judgment has come; and worship the One who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and the fountains of waters.”  The last part of verse 7 is a direct quotation from the fourth commandment, which is significant.  It is an invitation to worship the Creator.

 

Notice a few things about the context in these verses.  This is not after Jesus comes; this is during the time when the gospel is still being preached.  Probation has not yet closed; men and women still have an opportunity to change sides in the great controversy and choose on whose side they want to be, but the judgment is already here.  This chapter shows very clearly that the judgment of God occurs while the gospel is still being preached on the earth.  We know from Daniel 7 that that would be some little time after 1798. 

The apostle Paul taught that the judgment would be in the future.  In the Book of Acts 17:31, he said to the Athenians, “God has appointed a day in which He will [that is future] judge the world.”  When he talked to Felix about the judgment, he made it very clear that the judgment was to come.  (Acts 24:25.)  It was in the future. 

But the message in Revelation 14 says, “The hour of God’s judgment has come.”  Let us think that through for a moment.  Can you preach that the “hour of God’s judgment has come” if you do not know when it began?  Can you really?  If you do not know when it began, how can you know it is not going to be until next week?  So, then, you could not say it is here, because it is still future.  See, you cannot preach this unless you know when it began.  But, Daniel 8 points out to us exactly when the hour of God’s judgment would begin. 

 

In Hebrews 8:5, the apostle Paul makes very clear that what happened in Old Testament times with the Jewish sanctuary and all their services were types, examples of the reality in the heavens.  He does this in Hebrews 8:5 and in a number of other verses in Hebrews 8 and 9. 

 

In the old covenant, there were types of everything of importance.  The judgment is so important that the message about the judgment is going to be preached to every single person in the world, according to Revelation 14:6, 7.  For something that important, do you suppose there was any type of it in the old covenant?   Well, of course there was. 

 

In the old covenant, is there a type of the crucifixion of Christ?  Oh, yes.  There are many types of the crucifixion of Christ.  In the old covenant, is there a type of the Second Coming of Christ?  Absolutely!  Have you ever read in the Old Testament about the year of jubilee, when everybody was set free?  (See Leviticus 25:10–13.) 

 

There were types of everything of importance in the plan of salvation in the old covenant, so we would expect to find a type of the judgment in the old covenant.  Indeed they did have a type of judgment, and they even called it a judgment.  The apostle Paul refers to it as the day of judgment in Hebrews 9.  The type of the judgment in the old covenant was called the Day of Atonement or the cleansing of the sanctuary.  You can review that in Leviticus 16 or Leviticus 23.  Incidentally, failure to observe the Day of Atonement was such a serious offense that an individual would be cut off from being part of the children of Israel.  (Leviticus 23:29.)

 

When we talk today about the day of judgment, we are talking about the time of the day of final atonement.  The apostle Paul speaks of the day of final atonement: “Therefore it was necessary that the examples of the things in the heavens should be cleansed by these [that is, by these animal sacrifices], but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.”

 

Notice that he is talking about the heavenly sanctuary.  Look at the context.  He says that the heavenly sanctuary has to be cleansed by better sacrifices: “For not into the holy places made with hands [that is, the earthly sanctuary] Christ has gone, which are figures of the true ones [that is, the sanctuary in heaven] but into heaven itself, now to appear before the face of God in our behalf.  Neither that often times He should offer Himself, just as the high priest entered into every year [that was in the Day of Atonement] with the blood of others.  Because then He would often times have suffered since the foundation of the world; but now, once in the end of the ages, unto the putting away of sin, through the sacrifice of Himself, He has appeared.”  Hebrews 9:24–26.  If you look at the context exactly, Paul is talking about the Day of Atonement in the heavenly sanctuary, and he says that it will occur at the end of the ages.

 

We know from studying Daniel 8 and 9 that Daniel 9 explains how to compute Daniel 8.  It shows us when the 2300 days begin.  It shows that 490 days of the 2300 days were cut off on the Jews, leaving 1810 days.  The 70 weeks, or the 490 days, concluded in a.d. 34.  So, if you add 1810 to that, you come to 1844, and in 1844, this world entered the most serious, solemn period of earth’s history—that time when the final eternal destiny of every person who has ever lived on this planet is being decided.

 

You will not be saved when Jesus comes again, friend.  You will either be saved already, or you will be lost, because it says in Revelation 22:11, 12 that His reward will be with Him, “to give to every man according as his works shall be.”  The rewards will already have been determined when Jesus comes again. 

 

The judgment began in 1844, and we have no hesitancy, no embarrassment, no shyness about telling the world that.  The most important thing the world needs to know is that we are in the day of judgment now, and when this day of judgment is finished, we will not have any other opportunity to be saved; it will be over.  That is not cultic doctrine; that is right out of the Scriptures.  It is right out of God’s book, word for word.  

 

Three Phases

 

The judgment has three phases.  Many of our Protestant friends get confused, because they do not understand that the judgment has three phases.  Peter says that the judgment begins with the house of God.  (I Peter 4:17.)  That is where it begins, but that is not where it ends.  We are in the beginning phase now. 

Judgment begins with the house of God, but when it finishes with the house of God, then it proceeds for another thousand years.  Revelation 20:4 talks about the second phase of the judgment.  There we learn that the judgment is committed to the saints. 

Paul said the same thing to the Corinthians.  “Do you not know?” he asked them.  He was telling them that they should not be going to worldly courts to sue each other; then he said, “Do you not know that the saints are going to judge the world?”  I Corinthians 6:2.  The saints will even judge the devil’s angels!  (Verse 3.)  In his instruction, Paul continued: “If you are going to judge the world and the devil’s angels, do you think you could pass judgment and figure things out down here among yourselves, without having to go to the Gentiles to find out?  You are supposed to be judging them during the millennium; they are not going to be judging you.”  (Verses 4–9.)

 

The judgment committed to the saints for a thousand years is going to be a lot of work.  God wants the saved to know that He has made no mistake, and if there is any question about any person known in this world but who is not in heaven, the books of record will be completely opened.  The saved will be able to review everything about the life of anyone not in heaven.  There will be no question about the judgment that God has passed.  But that is just the second phase of the judgment. 

 

Execution of Judgment

 

The third phase of the judgment is described in Revelation 20:11–15.  It is called a judgment, and it says that everyone is “judged according to their works.”  It is like a judgment here in this world.  In the judgment in this world, you go to a court and there is an investigation.  The lawyers argue, trying to put the weight of evidence on one side or the other.  That is an investigation, and after the investigation, the judge passes sentence.  That is the second phase of the judgment that takes place during the millennium.  The righteous will see the sentences that are passed out to the wicked, and they will give their approval before the end of the millennium.

 

After the sentencing, what happens?  After the sentencing there is an execution of the judgment.  Whatever the sentence is, it is carried out, and the sentence given in this judgment is going to be carried out in the third phase of the judgment. 

 

If you are not saved, you will bear the price of your own sins, which is eternal death.  Not only that, any suffering that you have brought upon other people in this world will come right back upon you twofold.  That is what the Bible says in both the Old and New Testaments.  Double!  [Isaiah 61:7; Jeremiah 16:18; 17:18; Revelation 18:6.]  There are people who will burn for a long time, but after they and Satan’s angels are all burnt up, the devil will burn for a much longer time. 

 

The judgment is a witness to the whole universe of the love of God, because God is looking down on this world with all the suffering, the pain, and the death, and He says, “Do you see this terrible situation?  I cannot allow this to continue.” 

 

This is what the judgment is about.  We do not have to be ashamed or timid or shy about announcing to the world that we are in the day of judgment, that we are approaching the end of the judgment, and if they want to be saved, they had better get ready.  They had better surrender their hearts and lives to the Lord now, because we are in the most solemn period of earth’s history.

 

Judgment in the Bible

 

There are many texts about the judgment in the Bible.  Let us look at another that is so clear, you cannot miss the judgment in it if you think it through.  “The one who overcomes [or conquers] shall be clothed in white garment, and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life; and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”  Revelation 3:5.

 

This is a really solemn text.  It has a positive message, and it has a negative message.  The positive message is, if you overcome.  A Christian has to overcome the flesh, the world, and the devil.  If you overcome, then the message for you is positive.  Jesus says, “Your name will be retained in the book of life.”  Revelation 20:15 tells how important that is: “Anyone whose name is not in the book of life is cast into the lake of fire.”  How very important, then, to have your name in the book of life. 

 

Jesus says, “If you overcome, I will not blot out your name from the book of life.”  Think this through; flip it around, and tell me what that text means.  If you do not overcome, what does Revelation 3:5 tell you?  Your name is going to be blotted out of the book of life.  That is what the judgment is all about.  Is your name going to be retained, or is your name going to be blotted out? 

 

Standard is Law of God

 

James 2 shows us that the standard in the judgment is the Law of God.  “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, but stumble in one, has become guilty [or liable] for all.  For the One who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ said also, ‘Do not murder.’  And if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.  Like this speak and like this do, as through the law of liberty about to be judged.”  James 2:10–12.

 

This is a hard-hitting text.  Think this text through for just a moment.  What is the standard of the judgment, according to James 2:10–12?  It is the law that says, “You shall not commit adultery, and you should not murder.”  This law is the Ten Commandments.  This passage tells us that if you keep all the law, but you stumble in one, you are guilty as though you kept none of the law.

 

Incidentally, this was written many decades after Jesus died on the cross.  Many decades after Jesus died on the cross, James says that this law is still the standard of the judgment.

 

Two Distinct Laws

 

The theological opponents who are attacking God’s people with many spurious winds of doctrine put the ceremonial law and the moral law together as one law.  They recognize no difference between the ceremonial law and the moral law.  The first thing that happens if this is done is that people think, “Maybe we need to keep the feast days, and maybe we need to do this, and this, and this.”  There are some people so deluded that they are even looking for a red heifer to offer sacrifice. 

 

After convincing someone that there is no difference between the ceremonial law and the moral law, that there is just one combined law, these theological opponents go to Ephesians 2 and to Colossians 2.  There they read about the law being nailed to the cross and the law being done away with, and they draw the conclusion that the law no longer applies.

 

People are deceived, because they do not understand that there is a difference, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, between the ceremonial law and the moral law.  It is distinctly pointed out in both the Old and New Testaments that they are completely different from one another. It is pointed out in the New Testament that one is unchangeable and that the other was temporary.  You need to know the difference. 

 

Old Testament Distinctions

 

A very sharp distinction is given in the Old Testament between the two different laws.  The Ten Com-
mandments were spoken to the people by God’s own voice.  There is nothing more clear than that in the Old Testament.  (Read Deuteronomy 5 or Exodus 20.)  But God spoke the ceremonial law to Moses, and he then spoke it to the people.  That is a very sharp distinction.  One was so important that God Himself spoke it, and the other He said to Moses to tell the people.   

 

Other distinctions are given in Exodus 40 and Deuteronomy 4, 5, 9, 10, and 31.

 

The Ten Commandments were written by God’s own finger.  This is very important to understand, because never, at any place in the Bible, are the Ten Commandments referred to as the handwriting of anybody or any thing.  They were not written by any human hand, but by the finger of God.  The Bible never says by the hand of God; it says by the finger of God.  That is very important. 

 

Another distinction is that the Ten Commandments were written by the finger of God in stone.  Even today, what do we intend to do when we write something in stone? 

 

A walk through a cemetery provides the opportunity to see much writing in stone.  There are some things that do not change—a person’s name, the date of a person’s birth, and the date of his or her death does not change, so those are written in stone.  Even when human beings write something in stone, it indicates that they do not intend for anybody to change it.  God wrote the Ten Commandments in stone.  Is that significant? 

 

On the other hand, Moses handwrote the ceremonial law, probably on parchment or leather.  Clay tablets were also used during that time.  None of these—parchment, leather, or clay—tablets are durable. 

 

Storage of the laws is very clearly pointed out in the Book of Deuteronomy, especially in chapters 5, 9, 10, and 31.  The Ten Commandments were placed inside the Ark.  Deuteronomy 31 states very clearly in the Hebrew text that the law of Moses was placed in the side of the Ark; it was not placed inside with the Ten Commandments.   

 

Now, these are four very clear and very sharp distinctions between the ceremonial law and the moral law as given in the Old Testament, if that is all you have.  But in the New Testament, the distinction is made even more clearly.

 

Two Moral Principles

 

When asked what was the great commandment, Jesus said, “The first commandment is, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind; and the second is like to it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Matthew 22:37–39.

 

These are the two moral principles.  The first one is the moral principle upon which the first four commandments are based; the second one is the moral principle upon which the last six commandments are based. 

 

Just think it through; it is easy.  If you love your neighbor as yourself, you will not run away with his wife; you will not steal from him; you will not lie to him; you will not kill him.  You would not covet something that he has, if you love him like you do yourself.  If you love your neighbor as yourself, you surely would not do anything to dishonor your parents.  If you love your neighbor as yourself, you will fulfill the last six commandments.  Paul says, “Love does not do any ill to his neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.”  Romans 13:10.

Cannot Change Moral Law

 

In Mark 12:28–34, the conversation between a lawyer and Jesus is recorded where Jesus pointed out the same principles to him.  The lawyer realized that they were infinitely more important than all the ceremonies and sacrifices, and he replied to the Lord, “You spoke well, Teacher.  Those two principles are worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices, than the whole ceremonial system.”  When Jesus heard that he answered with understanding, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

 

See, the New Testament, if studied carefully, points out the distinction between the moral law and the ceremonial law even more clearly than the Old Testament does.  The apostle Paul was talking about that very thing in 1 Corinthians 7:19 when he said, “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing . ...”  Circumcision was the symbol of the old covenant and the whole sanctuary system; it was part of the ceremonial law.  Paul continued with a very big “but”—“but the keeping of the commandments of God, that is everything.” 

 

Paul points out the distinction between these two laws over and over again in the books of Galatians, Colossians, Ephesians, and Hebrews.  Repeatedly he very clearly points out in the New Testament the distinction between the ceremonial law and the moral law.  It emphasizes that the moral law cannot be changed. 

 

Jesus said, in Luke 16:17, “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one keraia of the law to fail.”  Now, do you know what a keraia is?  A keraia is not a whole letter.  It is just a little hook in a Hebrew letter; it is just a small part of a letter.  Think through what Jesus, the Majesty of heaven, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, is telling us.  God can destroy the universe He has made, but Jesus said, “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one part of a letter of the law to fail.”  In other words, the God of heaven is saying to us, “I would destroy heaven and earth before I would destroy one part of one letter of My law.”  It cannot be stated any more strongly than that. 

 

To be continued …

 

[Bible texts quoted are literal translation.]

 

Pastor John Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas.  He may be contacted by e-mail at: historic@stepstolife.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

February 2008 Table of Contents

 

       
 

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