To summarize the last post, I believe that the Hebrew word translated “cleansed” in the King James would be more accurately translated “vindicated.” Just as God’s justice and character were in question in the book of Job, I believe that what we call the investigative judgment is not so much about the determining of individual fate of believers as it is about vindicating God’s plan of salvation and his decision in each individual case.

How is it that an apparently sweet little old lady does not receive eternal life, while a notorious and hardened killer, who gave his life to Jesus in prison, is saved? I have no doubt, personally, that when by God’s grace I find myself on the sea of glass, more than a few people come up to me with an astonished expression on their face and ask, “What are you doing here?”

None of us but God knows about the life of every saint and sinner, but every saint will have known many who did not make it to that sea of glass. And they will want to know why.

“The sons of God,” mentioned in the book of Job, will be wondering too. We mentioned last time that they will be concerned that sinners, even redeemed sinners, should be set loose in a pure universe. They have seen the results of sin here. They saw the depravity that overtook the earth before the Flood, and that will, as we are told, overtake the world again. They want nothing to do with it. And so they must be convinced, case-by-case, so that once sin has been destroyed, it will never rise again. Everyone, those who had not fallen, and the fallen who have been redeemed, will have no remaining doubts about God. But as I mentioned at the end of the last post, it’s a little bit more complicated.

I have put forth the notion that the sanctuary that is to be vindicated is the plan of salvation. But that plan is not a mere theory. It is a state of being acted out in real lives. The sanctuary is where God dwells, and that indwelling of God’s presence is the plan of salvation in each of us. But it is more than that. So far, we have discussed the evaluation of individuals.

God dwells in heaven, and that is where his reputation and his execution of the plan of salvation is currently being reviewed. When I say “reviewed,” it is in the sense of a judicial review. God also dwells in each individual believer, and that is part of the review taking place in heaven. But Scripture also tells us that God dwells in his church. He is the head, and we are the body.

One of the issues, then, is the church as a whole. After all, if we are to have access to other worlds, other beings, even unfallen Angels, then how we interact with one another, how we “get along,” is also an issue.

Is it just me, or are “contentious board meeting,” or “heated business meeting,” often redundant phrases? How do committed Christians act when they disagree over issues like, say, women’s ordination? Or worship styles? Or music? Or even Bible translations? And that, as they say, is just the tip of the iceberg.

A lot of people who agree on the theory that we ought to love our neighbors as ourselves, end up fighting to the death over the color of the church carpet. One of the major issues, I believe that is delaying the Lord’s return, and impeding our mission as a church, is understanding how to develop healthy relationships in our marriages, in our homes, in our churches, in our workplaces.

In our congregation we place a special stress on understanding and developing healthy relationships. In a future series, I will take that up in detail. Those who want to get a head start on what I’m talking about can read my book, “Grounds for Belief,” in the chapter titled “Stuck in Second Gear.” Or they can check out my friend Jon Paulien’s, “Everlasting Gospel, Ever-Changing World.” I have a chapter in there on boundaries, and he has adapted the relationship material in a chapter that he wrote.

But for now, we need to examine the implications of our relationships within the church to the investigative judgment. Yes, we may be redeemed individually. Christ’s blood may have covered our sins. But we’re still human, and sometimes we treat people in church with this far differently, and worse, than those we’re trying to persuade to become members. Imagine “the sons of God” sitting in on your next board meeting, or perhaps during the discussion of women’s ordination at General Conference this summer. Do they want that sort of thing going on in their neighborhood, so to speak?

Perhaps we need to consider the implications of 1 John 4:20:

If someone says, “I love God,”
      and hates his brother,
———-he is a liar;
for the one who does not
—–love his brother
———-whom he has seen,
—–cannot love God
———-whom he has not seen.


How about this:

If someone says, “I trust God to save me”
      but distrusts nearly everyone,
———-he is kidding himself
for the one who does not
—–trust his brother
———-whom he has seen,
—–cannot trust God
———-whom he has not seen.

Or this:

If someone says, “I have an intimate relationship with God,”
      but is distant from church members,
———-he is kidding himself
for the one who does not
—–have an intimate relationship with his brother
———-whom he has seen,
—–cannot be intimate God
———-whom he has not seen.

Am I going too far here? I have seen a number of churches where the person considered to be the most spiritual was both distant and difficult. It makes me wonder about our understanding of spirituality. But that’s for another post.

If we as a church, collectively, are going to vindicate God’s plan of salvation, we need to start demonstrating that in our relationships with each other. Now, I understand that we are saved by grace and not works, but I also believe that saving grace affects our behavior, and that we need to cooperate with that grace as it transforms our lives. And this applies even, especially, in the way we relate to others within our families and congregations.

Read other posts from this series on Adventist Identity.