Questions and Answers – Three Phases of the Judgment

Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14, states, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”

Investigation Phase—

Before a jury trial, there is an investigation of the charges filed against the individual. Satan is the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10) bringing up all the sins we have committed so there needs to be an investigation. As the great High Priest, Jesus entered the Most Holy Place on October 22, 1844, to investigate each case. All have sinned, but Jesus offers forgiveness to those who repent. Once His atonement is completed, Jesus will say, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” Revelation 22:11.

“While the investigative judgment is going forward in heaven, while the sins of penitent believers are being removed from the sanctuary, there is to be a special work of purification, of putting away of sin, among God’s people upon earth.” The Great Controversy, 425.

Sentencing Phase—

If the individual is found guilty, then the trial moves to the second phase of the judgment, the sentencing phase, in which the jury evaluates the severity of the crime and assigns a just punishment. In I Corinthians 6:2 it says: “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?”

Those who have repented and turned away from their sins—the saints, will be taken to heaven when Jesus returns for 1,000 years to examine the books for the sentencing phase. The word of God tells us in Revelation 20:4, 6: “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. … Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”

Execution Phase—

The third phase in the trial is the execution of the sentence assigned—that is, applying the sentence to the individual. After the 1,000 years is over, then the Lord and His people in the New Jerusalem descend from heaven and the execution of the sentences will be carried out.

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” Revelation 20:12.

To summarize:

The investigative phase – October 22, 1844, to the close of probation

The sentencing phase – during the 1,000 years

The execution of the sentences – after the 1,000 years are ended