". . . we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ." Romans 14:10 Adventists have long expected the judgment of the living. Ellen White made the following statement in 1884, "The Judgment is now passing in the sanctuary above. Forty years has this work been in progress. Soon, none know how soon, it will pass to the cases of the living. In the awful presence of God our lives are to come up in review. At this time above all others it behooves every soul to heed the Savior's admonition, 'Watch and pray, for ye know not when the time is.' 'Watch ye therefore, . . . lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping.'" (The Spirit of Prophecy, v.4, p.314). And in 1890 she penned this statement. "The judgment of the dead has been going on, and soon the judgment will begin upon the living, and every case will be decided. It will be known whose names are retained upon the book of life, and whose are blotted out." (Signs of the Times, June 2, 1890).
"The great work of the gospel is not to close with less manifestation of the power of God than marked its opening. The prophecies which were fulfilled in the outpouring of the former rain at the opening of the gospel are again to be fulfilled in the latter rain at its close. Here are 'the times of refreshing' to which the apostle Peter looked forward when he said: 'Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus.' Acts 3:19:20." (The Great Controversy, pages 611-12). The foregoing information indicates to us that the "blotting out of sins" takes place during the "times of refreshing". This also happens concurrently with the outpouring of the "latter rain". What is the purpose of the "latter rain"? The "early rain" brings the precious seed to life through germination, while the "latter rain" finishes the plant's growth to maturity ripening the fruit for harvest.
"I have no specific time of which to speak when the outpouring of the Holy Spirit will take place, when the mighty angel will come down from Heaven, and unite with the third angel in closing up the work for this world; my message is that our only safety is in being ready for the heavenly refreshing, having our lamps trimmed and burning. Christ has told us to watch; 'for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh.' 'Watch and pray' is the charge that is given us by our Redeemer. Day by day we are to seek the enlightenment of the Spirit of God, that it may do its office work upon the soul and character. O, how much time has been wasted through giving attention to trifling things." (The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, page 960). If our lamps are trimmed and burning, evidence of spiritual life exists. Only those who have the Son have the life; and only those who have been benefited by the "early rain" can be nurtured by the "latter rain". Before the harvest, the process of ripening must occur. Notice carefully that the admonition to be ready for the coming of the Son of man, is a warning of the coming "judgment of the living".
During the current period of earth's history men and women should be thinking of "what God and Jesus are doing . . . What are they doing? They are cleansing the sanctuary. . . . We should be with Him in this work and be cleansing the sanctuary of our souls of all unrighteousness, that our names may be written in the Lamb's book of life, that our sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. It is the most solemn work that was ever given to mortals." (Lift Him Up, page 216). Adventists have known of this fact for more than a century, but who are making their robes white in the blood of the Lamb? "I urge upon you the necessity of purity in every thought, in every word, in every action. We have an individual accountability to God, and individual work which no one can do for us." (1MCP 289). "O that every church member . . . might realize that this life is a school in which to prepare for examination by the God of Heaven, with regard to purity, cleanness of thought, unselfishness of action! Every word and act, every thought, is recorded on the record books of Heaven . . ." (MYP 391). Are you preparing? "The all-seeing eye of God is upon us; the secret thoughts of our hearts are not hidden. Every one of us will be judged according to the deeds done in the body. I inquire of you today, How do you stand before God? How does He who can understand every motive, see every thought, hear every word, behold every action of your life, regard your case? Will you consider these solemn questions before every case shall be irrevocably fixed . . ." in the investigative judgment of the living. (The Youth Instructor, July 21, 1892). "The work of the investigative judgment and the blotting out of sins is to be accomplished before the second advent of the Lord. Since the dead are to be judged out of the things written in the books, it is impossible that the sins of men should be blotted out until after the judgment [begins] at which their cases are to be investigated." (This is contrary to the commonly held belief that one receives his eternal reward upon death.) ". . . the apostle Peter distinctly states that the sins of believers will be blotted out 'when the times of refreshing shall come . . .' When the investigative judgment closes, Christ will come, and His reward will be with Him to give to every man as his work shall be." (The Great Controversy, page 485; emphases supplied). We know that the cases of all will have been judged when probation closes. "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" (Rev. 22:11). Adventists believe that the investigative judgment for the righteous dead began in 1844. It follows that the "times of refreshing" for the righteous dead also began in 1844. It has taken many years to investigate the individual cases of the dead saints. In like manner, it will take a segment of time to process the living saints during the "times of refreshing" or "investigative judgment of the living". In addition, there must be an overlapping of the timing of these processes, since, while the living are being judged, God's people are also dying. Remember, each case is to be considered individually, and yet, many souls may enter the process simultaneously. For one to fall away or back-slide during the time of the judgment of the living, after voluntarily standing "before the judgment seat of Christ", eternal ruin would be his lot. This is by reason of the exalted level of that individual's understanding and accountability after consciously placing himself there for final examination. Remember, however, that the "throne of God" is a place to come in time of need. "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:16). Then, for the child of God, he finds himself standing before a "mercy seat" with righteous judgment being applied in the "blotting out of sins". During the "judgment of the living" all sins are repulsed as they are revealed, never more to return. We experience this "blotting-out" as we confess each sin specifically, and by repenting, send it beforehand to judgment. The sin is erased from our record, and we never commit it again. God's true people are aware of this ongoing final cleansing, as they work together in spiritual unity praying to hasten the second advent of their Lord and Savior.
Another way of talking about this time of judgment is "the sealing time". Adventists know that "the sealing message" began in 1848 with the addition of the Sabbath truth to the sanctuary doctrine. Saints have been sealed for Heaven in the three angels' messages of Revelation 14 since that time. Ellen White, herself, died in the hope of a "special resurrection" for those saints being sealed in the three angels' messages. "Then the angel said, 'You just go back, and if you are faithful, you, with the 144,000 shall have the privilege of visiting all the worlds and viewing the handy work of God.'" (The Present Truth, August 1, 1849). The Bible, speaking of those laid to rest in the sealing message, says, ". . .Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them." (Rev. 14:13). The 144,000 will be sealed from among the righteous living too. And this grand work of the final sealing is done during the judgment of the living which closes up the work of redemption. Remember, "Just as soon as the people of God are sealed in their foreheads it is not any seal or mark that can be seen, but a settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so they cannot be moved . . ." (The Faith I Live By, page 287; 1902). "Not one of us will ever receive the seal of God while our characters have one spot or stain upon them. It is left with us to remedy the defects in our characters, to cleanse the soul temple of every defilement. Then the latter rain will fall on us . . ." (5T 214).
To summarize what we have said to this point, "the times of refreshing" run concurrent with "investigative judgment", "the sealing time", the "cleansing of the sanctuary" and the "time of the latter rain". It is commonly held that "the times of refreshing" have most significant application to the outpouring of the "latter rain" on the living saints. Certainly, only the living would be aware of the final work of the Holy Spirit for man's salvation. So, during the time of the judgment of the living, we experience "latter rain" power, special purification of the soul temple, the final forming of Christ's image within, and the sealing of the soul by the truth of the three angels' messages. The following paragraph written by Ellen White in The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald explains: "Human nature is depraved, and is justly condemned by a holy God. But provision is made for the repenting sinner, so that by faith in the atonement of the only begotten Son of God, he may receive forgiveness of sin, find justification, receive adoption into the heavenly family, and become an inheritor of the kingdom of God. Transformation of character is wrought through the operation of the Holy Spirit, which works upon the human agent, implanting in him, according to his desire and consent to have it done, a new nature. The image of God is restored to the soul, and day by day he is strengthened and renewed by grace, and is enabled more and more perfectly to reflect the character of Christ in righteousness and true holiness." (September 17, 1895).
The process of the final sealing, and thus, judgment of the living saints is described in Ezekiel, chapter nine. "The command is: 'Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.' These sighing, crying ones had been holding forth the words of life; they had reproved, counseled, and entreated. Some who had been dishonoring God repented and humbled their hearts before Him. But the glory of the Lord had departed from Israel; although many still continued the forms of religion, His power and presence were lacking." (5T 210). "The people of God are sighing and crying for the abominations done in the land. With tears they warn the wicked of their danger in trampling upon the divine law, and with unutterable sorrow they humble themselves before the Lord on account of their own transgressions. The wicked mock their sorrow, ridicule their solemn appeals, and sneer at what they term their weakness. But the anguish and humiliation of God's people is unmistakable evidence that they are regaining the strength and nobility of character lost in consequence of sin. It is because they are drawing nearer to Christ, and their eyes are fixed upon His perfect purity, that they so clearly discern the exceeding sinfulness of sin. Their contrition and self-abasement are infinitely more acceptable in the sight of God than is the self-sufficient, haughty spirit of those who see no cause to lament, who scorn the humility of Christ, and who claim perfection while transgressing God's holy law. Meekness and lowliness of heart are the conditions for strength and victory. The crown of glory awaits those who bow at the foot of the cross. Blessed are these mourners, for they shall be comforted." (5T 474).
Jesus is about to leave THE JUDGMENT SEAT in Heaven, where He has been making intercession for the living saints, to put on garments of vengeance and pour out His wrath in judgments upon those who have not responded to the light God has given them. "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." (Eccl. 8:11). Instead of being softened by the patience and long forbearance that YAH has exercised toward them, those who fear not God and love not the truth strengthen their hearts in their evil course. But there are limits even to the forbearance of God, and many are exceeding these boundaries during His final work of judgment. They have overrun the limits of grace, and therefore God must vindicate His own honor probation closes.
We appeal to you. Make "your calling and election sure" (2 Peter 1:10). Surrender your whole being to Christ, place your name before THE JUDGMENT SEAT right now, repenting and receiving the refreshing from YAH's Heavenly presence. Join us, the living saints, in hastening the Messiah's second advent. Amen.
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