I have been thinking about the Investigative Judgment and all the theological reasons, arguments, and details that many of us worry about, discuss, have even argued over in some cases! But if all we have is the theoretical head knowledge, none of it really matters very much. I have been impressed lately that the Investigative Judgment is a matter of the heart.
It is a funny thing that words and phrases carry baggage with them—connotations and assumptions that we don’t even examine and can color our theology and concepts. For example: the word judgment. Immediately it seems to imply harshness, especially when you think of the word judgmental. But when you really think about it, a judgment is only a decision, an opinion, a belief that something or someone is telling the truth or not. You are trusting that the person you have made a decision about is worthy of that trust.
When I was dating my future wife, I was judging her. See how harsh that sounds? It sounds judicial and uncompromising. But really I was forming an opinion about her, and she of me. My question was: could I trust her with the deepest heart issues in my life? Trust her not to gossip about the less desirable traits that she was bound to find. Could she trust me to do the same? Could she trust me to even vigorously defend her against others who might attack her physically, emotionally, or verbally?
What was the glue that was holding all of these aspects together about judging my future wife; putting her on trial so to speak—and putting myself on trial for her judgment of me? LOVE. We both were trying to decide if this was someone we could live with the rest of our lives! As we interacted and shared over time, misunderstandings did and still occur. How these difficulties were dealt with helped confirm our decisions about each other. Trust, faith, and love were all developing between us; and continue even today!
Christ says that He will reign forever, and that we will reign with Him forever! The decision about what God is like, and to be absolutely sure that I want Him as the absolute ruler of the universe forever, is much more important and obviously a much more lengthy commitment than marriage for only a lifetime! For example, if I am happy with the belief He will burn the wicked forever and ever, then that is the kind of government and tyrant I am willing to trust and live with forever! This judgment, decision, development of opinion and trust; having the faith-trust in or of Christ Jesus, is the process of placing the Seal of God in the forehead—a settling in of a conscious decision that will not and cannot be shaken—therefore sealed. This is just like getting married, which is exactly what is happening. We are getting ready for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb!
Jesus promises to give us a white stone with our new name written on it, that no one else knows but He! This indicates a very personal relationship that cannot and will not ever be shared with anyone else! Jesus is our lover, and loving anyone or anything other than Him is described as adultery. This is why the breastplate is on His heart! The breastplate of decision, of trust, of faith—The Breastplate of Judgment!
Can I trust God to save me from sin; to give me the power to overcome all sin? If I don’t believe or trust the promise or the One who gives the promise, I will never claim it. Can the angels trust God that those He is bringing home will not start another rebellion? God has placed His trust-faith in us that we can overcome. We are developing trust-faith in His word, His promises, and His righteousness to become ours—not just as a covering, but as our essence internally! This is the meaning of the white stone! We are white throughout—not just on the surface. And the new name He writes there signifies our own unique character!
How long does it take to build trust in a brand new relationship? How long does it take to rebuild trust with a relationship where trust has been broken? Is the judgment harsh and something to be feared? Not if LOVE is the basis for that decision!
Dennis Hollingsead works in the Office of Development at Andrews University. This devotional was previously published in the Pioneer Memorial Church Bulletin. It has been reprinted here with permission from the author.
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