46. Is it true that Adventists nevertheless believe the date 1844 has some special significance – something about a pre-Advent Investigative Judgment?

Yes, although critics often become obsessed with the date of 1844, rather acknowledge the broader concept of Christ’s position as High Priest, involved in an ongoing intercessory Ministry of pre-Advent Investigative Judgment in heaven.
Official SDA fundamental belief #24 states:
“24. Christ's Ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary:
There is a sanctuary in heaven, the true tabernacle which the Lord set up and not man. In it Christ ministers on our behalf, making available to believers the benefits of His atoning sacrifice offered once for all on the cross. He was inaugurated as our great High Priest and began His intercessory ministry at the time of His ascension. In 1844, at the end of the prophetic period of 2300 days, He entered the second and last phase of His atoning ministry. It is a work of investigative judgment which is part of the ultimate disposition of all sin, typified by the cleansing of the ancient Hebrew sanctuary on the Day of Atonement. In that typical service the sanctuary was cleansed with the blood of animal sacrifices, but the heavenly things are purified with the perfect sacrifice of the blood of Jesus. The investigative judgment reveals to heavenly intelligences who among the dead are asleep in Christ and therefore, in Him, are deemed worthy to have part in the first resurrection. It also makes manifest who among the living are abiding in Christ, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and in Him, therefore, are ready for translation into His everlasting kingdom. This judgment vindicates the justice of God in saving those who believe in Jesus. It declares that those who have remained loyal to God shall receive the kingdom. The completion of this ministry of Christ will mark the close of human probation before the Second Advent. (Heb. 8:1-5; 4:14-16; 9:11-28; 10:19-22; 1:3; 2:16, 17; Dan. 7:9-27; 8:13, 14; 9:24-27; Num. 14:34; Eze. 4:6; Lev. 16; Rev. 14:6, 7; 20:12; 14:12; 22:12.)” (emphasis added)
This doctrine in effect has a number of key principles, namely that:
  • The Old Testament Sanctuary (Tent and Temple) was a mere copy of the true Tabernacle in heaven (Heb 8:1-5);
  • The Jewish sacrificial system, which required the sacrifice of goats and calves, was a mere shadow of Christ’s perfect sacrifice as the Lamb of God on earth (Jhn 1:29, Heb 9, Heb 10:1-3);
  • The Jewish Priesthood was a mere shadow of Christ’s role in heaven as our perfect High Priest (Heb 4:14-16); and
  • Christ’s role as High Priest includes acting as a mediator before God (Heb 9:15) in a pre-Advent Investigative Judgment (Dan. 7; Rom. 2:5,6).
Technically, Adventists acknowledge there are in fact a number of judgments, some judicial and some executive, including:
  • A pre-advent, investigative judgment of the saved and of God, by the angelic hosts (Dan. 7; Rom. 2:5,6);
  • A millennial, investigative judgment of the unsaved and fallen angels by the saved (Rev. 20:4-6; 1 Cor. 6:1-3); and
  • An final executive judgment, after the end of the millenium where the unsaved are brought back to life by the second resurrection (Rev 20:5; Jhn 5:29), and after Satan’s imprisionment ends (see Rev 20:7-9), which results in the second and final death (Rev. 20:13-15).
When both Adventists and critics talk about the pre-Advent Investigative Judgment, they are usually only discussing the first judicial judgment.  Further scriptural support for the idea there is a pre-Advent judgment of individuals as distinct from a final executive judgment of the whole world includes:
  • Daniel describes a time of trouble on earth when everyone whose name is found in the book (i.e. following some sort of judgment) will be delivered (Dan 12:1);
  • The book of Revelation describes angels pouring out the last plagues on a world already judged, where God’s judgment is just (Rev 16);
  • Paul infers that at Christ’s 2nd coming, God’s wrath and judgment will be repaid to every person according to what they have been done in the past (Rom 2:5,6);
  • The book of Hebrews makes it clear that the judgment occurs after someone dies and thus before the resurrection (Heb 9:27), which correlates to those who are dead in Christ at His 2nd coming (1 Thes 4:13-17; 1 Cor 15:51,52);
  • Peter infers that God will soon judge those among the living in His household (1 Pet 4:5,16), which correlates to those who are still alive at Christ’s 2nd coming (1 Thes 4:13-17; 1 Cor 15:51,52);
  • Jesus Himself says that when He returns His reward will be with Him according to what each has done (Matt 16:27); and
  • Finally, Jesus again says that when He comes, He will gather His ‘elect’ (i.e. there must have been some sort of election by God) (Matt 24:31).
In fact, the broad concept of a pre-Advent Investigative Judgment, is very similar to ‘mainstream’ or ‘orthodox’ Christian beliefs in a judicial ‘Particular Judgment’ of an individual, as distinct from an executive ‘General’ or ‘Final Judgment’, at the end of the world.
Finally, to the extent that the date of 1844 becomes relevant, which tends to be the focus of critics, this is merely Adventist claims, based on the prophecy in (Dan 8:14), as to when this pre-Advent Investigative Judgment actually begins.  Even for those Adventists who reject the specific date of 1844 (and there are a significant number who do, whether rightly or wrongly), such people do not necessarily reject the broader concept of a pre-Advent Investigative Judgment.
Therefore, when understood properly and in context, the key concepts behind a pre-Advent Investigative Judgment are not as peculiar or bizarre as critics like to portray.  In fact, arguably it is those Christians who think the Last Judgment is a mere metaphor, or fail to distinguish between its judicial and executive phases, who are out of step with the majority of 'mainstream' and 'orthodox' Christianity.
For more in-depth expositions of the Investigative Judgment:


  1. I think there are in fact two separate criticisms re the Investigative Judgment:
    1. Is there a phased judgment - with various investigative and executive phases?
    2. When did the first investigative start?

    Critics wrongly tend to mix these together. As outlined in this blog, point 1) is really believed by most Christians. Re 2), whilst I believe that the investigative judgment started in 1844, I agree that in some ways it doesn't matter too much, even if people instead it started when Jesus first ascended to heaven, as long as people realize: a) there is an investigative judgment going on now; and b) we should 'watch' because we are now in Earth's last days, where the Lord is likely to come as a thief in the night.

  2. I could also possibly add a point 3) that critics think SDAs teach then that Christ's sacrifice on the cross was not "for once and for all", which isn't true, but I notice this is already covered by another post on this website.

  3. 1844 is not a SDA invention:


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