Facing Life's Record
"I beheld," says the prophet Daniel, "till
thrones were placed, and One that was Ancient of Days did sit: His raiment was white as
snow, and the hair of His head like pure wool; His throne was fiery flames, and the wheels
thereof burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him: thousand
thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him: the
judgment was set, and the books were opened." Daniel 7:9, 10, R.V.
Thus was presented to the
prophet's vision the great and solemn day when the characters and the lives of men should
pass in review before the Judge of all the earth, and to every man should be rendered
"according to his works." The Ancient of Days is God the Father. Says the
psalmist: "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou hadst formed the
earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God." Psalm 90:2.
It is He, the source of all being, and the fountain of all law, that is to preside in the
judgment. And holy angels as ministers and witnesses, in number "ten thousand times
ten thousand, and thousands of thousands," attend this great tribunal.
"And, behold, one like
the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they
brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him
dominion, and glory, and a kingdom,
that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting
dominion, which shall not pass away." Daniel 7:13, 14. The coming of Christ here
described is not His second coming to the earth. He comes to the Ancient of Days in heaven
to receive dominion and glory and a kingdom, which will be given Him at the close of His
work as a mediator. It is this coming, and not His second advent to the earth, that was
foretold in prophecy to take place at the termination of the 2300 days in 1844. Attended
by heavenly angels, our great High Priest enters the holy of holies and there appears in
the presence of God to engage in the last acts of His ministration in behalf of man--to
perform the work of investigative judgment and to make an atonement for all who are shown
to be entitled to its benefits.
In the typical service only
those who had come before God with confession and repentance, and whose sins, through the
blood of the sin offering, were transferred to the sanctuary, had a part in the service of
the Day of Atonement. So in the great day of final atonement and investigative judgment
the only cases considered are those of the professed people of God. The judgment of the
wicked is a distinct and separate work, and takes place at a later period. "Judgment
must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them
that obey not the gospel?" 1 Peter 4:17.
The books of record in
heaven, in which the names and the deeds of men are registered, are to determine the
decisions of the judgment. Says the prophet Daniel: "The judgment was set, and the
books were opened." The revelator, describing the same scene, adds: "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.
The book of life contains the
names of all who have ever entered the service of God. Jesus bade His disciples:
because your names are written in heaven." Luke 10:20. Paul speaks of
his faithful fellow workers, "whose names are in the book of life." Philippians
4:3. Daniel, looking down to "a time of trouble, such as never was," declares
that God's people shall be delivered, "everyone that shall be found written in the
book." And the revelator says that those only shall enter the city of God whose names
"are written in the Lamb's book of life." Daniel 12:1; Revelation 21:27.
"A book of
remembrance" is written before God, in which are recorded the good deeds of
"them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name." Malachi 3:16. Their
words of faith, their acts of love, are registered in heaven. Nehemiah refers to this when
he says: "Remember me, O my God, . . . and wipe not out my good deeds that I have
done for the house of my God." Nehemiah 13:14. In the book of God's remembrance every
deed of righteousness is immortalized. There every temptation resisted, every evil
overcome, every word of tender pity expressed, is faithfully chronicled. And every act of
sacrifice, every suffering and sorrow endured for Christ's sake, is recorded. Says the
psalmist: "Thou tellest my wanderings: put Thou my tears into Thy bottle: are they
not in Thy book?" Psalm 56:8.
There is a record also of the
sins of men. "For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing,
whether it be good, or whether it be evil." Every idle word that men shall speak,
they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment." Says the Saviour: "By
thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."
Ecclesiastes 12:14; Matthew 12:36, 37. The secret purposes and motives appear in the
unerring register; for God "will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and
will make manifest the counsels of the hearts." I Corinthians 4:5. "Behold, it
is written before Me, . . . your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together,
saith the Lord." Isaiah 65:6, 7.
Every man's work passes in
review before God and is registered for faithfulness or unfaithfulness. Opposite each name
in the books of heaven is entered with terrible exactness every wrong word, every selfish
act, every unfulfilled duty, and every secret sin, with every artful dissembling.
Heaven-sent warnings or reproofs neglected, wasted moments, unimproved opportunities, the
influence exerted for good or for evil, with its far-reaching results, all are chronicled
by the recording angel.
The law of God is the
standard by which the characters and the lives of men will be tested in the judgment. Says
the wise man: "Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of
man. For God shall bring every work into judgment." Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14. The
apostle James admonishes his brethren: "So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be
judged by the law of liberty." James 2:12
Those who in the judgment are
"accounted worthy" will have a part in the resurrection of the just. Jesus said:
"They which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from
the dead, . . . are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children
of the resurrection." Luke 20:35, 36. And again He declares that "they that have
done good" shall come forth "unto the resurrection of life." John 5:29. The
righteous dead will not be raised until after the judgment at which they are accounted
worthy of "the resurrection of life." Hence they will not be present in person
at the tribunal when their records are examined and their cases decided.
Jesus will appear as their
advocate, to plead in their behalf before God. "If any man sin, we have an advocate
with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." I John 2:1. "For Christ is not
entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into
heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us." "Wherefore He is
able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth
to make intercession for them." Hebrews 9:24; 7:25.
As the books of record are
opened in the judgment, the lives of all who have believed on Jesus come in review before
God. Beginning with those who first lived upon the earth, our Advocate presents the cases
of each successive generation, and closes with the living. Every name is mentioned, every
case closely investigated. Names are accepted, names rejected. When any have sins
remaining upon the books of record, unrepented of and unforgiven, their names will be
blotted out of the book of life, and the record of their good deeds will be erased from
the book of God's remembrance. The Lord declared to Moses: "Whosoever hath sinned
against Me, him will I blot out of My book." Exodus 32:33. And says the prophet
Ezekiel: "When the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth
iniquity, . . . all his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned."
All who have truly repented
of sin, and by faith claimed the blood of Christ as their atoning sacrifice, have had
pardon entered against their names in the books of heaven; as they have become partakers
of the righteousness of Christ, and their characters are found to be in harmony with the
law of God, their sins will be blotted out, and they themselves will be accounted worthy
of eternal life. The Lord declares, by the prophet Isaiah: "I, even I, am He that
blotteth out thy transgressions for Mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins."
Isaiah 43:25. Said Jesus: "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white
raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his
name before My Father, and before His angels." "Whosoever therefore shall
confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father which is in heaven. But
whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in
heaven." Revelation 3:5; Matthew 10:32, 33.
The deepest interest
manifested among men in the decisions of earthly tribunals but faintly represents the
evinced in the heavenly courts when the names entered in the book of life come up
in review before the Judge of all the earth. The divine Intercessor presents the plea that
all who have overcome through faith in His blood be forgiven their transgressions, that
they be restored to their Eden home, and crowned as joint heirs with Himself to "the
first dominion." Micah 4:8. Satan in his efforts to deceive and tempt our race had
thought to frustrate the divine plan in man's creation; but Christ now asks that this plan
be carried into effect as if man had never fallen. He asks for His people not only pardon
and justification, full and complete, but a share in His glory and a seat upon His throne.
While Jesus is pleading for
the subjects of His grace, Satan accuses them before God as transgressors. The great
deceiver has sought to lead them into skepticism, to cause them to lose confidence in God,
to separate themselves from His love, and to break His law. Now he points to the record of
their lives, to the defects of character, the unlikeness to Christ, which has dishonored
their Redeemer, to all the sins that he has tempted them to commit, and because of these
he claims them as his subjects.
Jesus does not excuse their
sins, but shows their penitence and faith, and, claiming for them forgiveness, He lifts
His wounded hands before the Father and the holy angels, saying: I know them by name. I
have graven them on the palms of My hands. "The sacrifices of God are a broken
spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise." Psalm 51:17.
And to the accuser of His people He declares: "The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even
the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the
fire?" Zechariah 3:2. Christ will clothe His faithful ones with His own
righteousness, that He may present them to His Father "a glorious church, not having
spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing." Ephesians 5:27. Their names stand enrolled in
the book of life, and concerning them it is written: "They shall walk with Me in
white: for they are worthy." Revelation 3:4.
Thus will be realized the
complete fulfillment of the new-covenant promise: "I will forgive their iniquity, and
I will remember their sin no more." "In those days, and in that time, saith the
Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of
Judah, and they shall not be found." Jeremiah 31:34; 50:20. "In that day shall
the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be
excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that
he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even
everyone that is written among the living in Jerusalem." Isaiah 4:2, 3.
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 at which
their cases are to be investigated. But the apostle Peter distinctly states that the sins
of believers will be blotted out "when the times of refreshing shall come from the
presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ." Acts 3:19, 20. 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.
In the typical service the
high priest, having made the atonement for Israel, came forth and blessed the
congregation. So Christ, at the close of His work as mediator, will appear, "without
sin unto salvation" (Hebrews 9:28), to bless His waiting people with eternal life. As
the priest, in removing the sins from the sanctuary, confessed them upon the head of the
scapegoat, so Christ will place all these sins upon Satan, the originator and instigator
of sin. The scapegoat, bearing the sins of Israel, was sent away "unto a land not
inhabited" (Leviticus 16:22); so Satan, bearing the guilt of all the sins which he
has caused God's people to commit, will be for a thousand years confined to the earth,
which will then be desolate, without inhabitant, and he will at last suffer the
penalty of sin in the fires that shall destroy all the wicked. Thus the great plan of
redemption will reach its accomplishment in the final eradication of sin and the
deliverance of all who have been willing to renounce evil.
At the time appointed for the
judgment--the close of the 2300 days, in 1844--began the work of investigation and
blotting out of sins. All who have ever taken upon themselves the name of Christ must pass
its searching scrutiny. Both the living and the dead are to be judged "out of those
things which were written in the books, according to their works."
Sins that have not been
repented of and forsaken will not be pardoned and blotted out of the books of record, but
will stand to witness against the sinner in the day of God. He may have committed his evil
deeds in the light of day or in the darkness of night; but they were open and manifest
before Him with whom we have to do. Angels of God witnessed each sin and registered it in
the unerring records. Sin may be concealed, denied, covered up from father, mother, wife,
children, and associates; no one but the guilty actors may cherish the least suspicion of
the wrong; but it is laid bare before the intelligences of heaven. The darkness of the
darkest night, the secrecy of all deceptive arts, is not sufficient to veil one thought
from the knowledge of the Eternal. God has an exact record of every unjust account and
every unfair dealing. He is not deceived by appearances of piety. He makes no mistakes in
His estimation of character. Men may be deceived by those who are corrupt in heart, but
God pierces all disguises and reads the inner life.
How solemn is the thought!
Day after day, passing into eternity, bears its burden of records for the books of heaven.
Words once spoken, deeds once done, can never be recalled. Angels have registered both the
good and the evil. The mightiest conqueror upon the earth cannot call back the record of
even a single day. Our acts, our words, even our most secret motives, all have their
weight in deciding our destiny for weal or woe. Though they may be forgotten by
will bear their testimony to justify or condemn.
As the features of the
countenance are reproduced with unerring accuracy on the polished plate of the artist, so
the character is faithfully delineated in the books above. Yet how little solicitude is
felt concerning that record which is to meet the gaze of heavenly beings. Could the veil
which separates the visible from the invisible world be swept back, and the children of
men behold an angel recording every word and deed, which they must meet again in the
judgment, how many words that are daily uttered would remain unspoken, how many deeds
would remain undone.
In the judgment the use made
of every talent will be scrutinized. How have we employed the capital lent us of Heaven?
Will the Lord at His coming receive His own with usury? Have we improved the powers
entrusted us, in hand and heart and brain, to the glory of God and the blessing of the
world? How have we used our time, our pen, our voice, our money, our influence? What have
we done for Christ, in the person of the poor, the afflicted, the orphan, or the widow?
God has made us the depositaries of His holy word; what have we done with the light and
truth given us to make men wise unto salvation? No value is attached to a mere profession
of faith in Christ; only the love which is shown by works is counted genuine. Yet it is
love alone which in the sight of Heaven makes any act of value. Whatever is done from
love, however small it may appear in the estimation of men, is accepted and rewarded of
The hidden selfishness of men
stands revealed in the books of heaven. There is the record of unfulfilled duties to their
fellow men, of forgetfulness of the Saviour's claims. There they will see how often were
given to Satan the time, thought, and strength that belonged to Christ. Sad is the record
which angels bear to heaven. Intelligent beings, professed followers of Christ, are
absorbed in the acquirement of worldly possessions or the enjoyment of earthly pleasures.
Money, time, and strength are sacrificed for display and
self-indulgence; but few are the
moments devoted to prayer, to the searching of the Scriptures, to humiliation of soul and
confession of sin.
Satan invents unnumbered
schemes to occupy our minds, that they may not dwell upon the very work with which we
ought to be best acquainted. The archdeceiver hates the great truths that bring to view an
atoning sacrifice and an all-powerful mediator. He knows that with him everything depends
on his diverting minds from Jesus and His truth.
Those who would share the
benefits of the Saviour's mediation should permit nothing to interfere with their duty to
perfect holiness in the fear of God. The precious hours, instead of being given to
pleasure, to display, or to gain seeking, should be devoted to an earnest, prayerful study
of the word of truth. The subject of the sanctuary and the investigative judgment should
be clearly understood by the people of God. All need a knowledge for themselves of the
position and work of their great High Priest. Otherwise it will be impossible for them to
exercise the faith which is essential at this time or to occupy the position which God
designs them to fill. Every individual has a soul to save or to lose. Each has a case
pending at the bar of God. Each must meet the great Judge face to face. How important,
then, that every mind contemplate often the solemn scene when the judgment shall sit and
the books shall be opened, when, with Daniel, every individual must stand in his lot, at
the end of the days.
All who have received the
light upon these subjects are to bear testimony of the great truths which God has
committed to them. The sanctuary in heaven is the very center of Christ's work in behalf
of men. It concerns every soul living upon the earth. It opens to view the plan of
redemption, bringing us down to the very close of time and revealing the triumphant issue
of the contest between righteousness and sin. It is of the utmost importance that all
should thoroughly investigate these subjects and be able to give an answer to
that asketh them a reason of the hope that is in them.
The intercession of Christ in
man's behalf in the sanctuary above is as essential to the plan of salvation as was His
death upon the cross. By His death He began that work which after His resurrection He
ascended to complete in heaven. We must by faith enter within the veil, "whither the
forerunner is for us entered." Hebrews 6:20. There the light from the cross of
Calvary is reflected. There we may gain a clearer insight into the mysteries of
redemption. The salvation of man is accomplished at an infinite expense to heaven; the
sacrifice made is equal to the broadest demands of the broken law of God. Jesus has opened
the way to the Father's throne, and through His mediation the sincere desire of all who
come to Him in faith may be presented before God.
"He that covereth his
sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy."
Proverbs 28:13. If those who hide and excuse their faults could see how Satan exults over
them, how he taunts Christ and holy angels with their course, they would make haste to
confess their sins and to put them away. Through defects in the character, Satan works to
gain control of the whole mind, and he knows that if these defects are cherished, he will
succeed. Therefore he is constantly seeking to deceive the followers of Christ with his
fatal sophistry that it is impossible for them to overcome. But Jesus pleads in their
behalf His wounded hands, His bruised body; and He declares to all who would follow Him:
"My grace is sufficient for thee." 2 Corinthians 12:9. "Take My yoke upon
you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your
souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." Matthew 11:29, 30. Let none,
then, regard their defects as incurable. God will give faith and grace to overcome them.
We are now living in the
great day of atonement. In the typical service, while the high priest was making the
atonement for Israel, all were required to afflict their souls by repentance of sin and
humiliation before the Lord, lest they be cut off from among the people. In like manner,
all who would have their names retained in the book of life should now, in the few
remaining days of their probation, afflict their souls before God by sorrow for sin and
true repentance. There must be deep, faithful searching of heart. The light, frivolous
spirit indulged by so many professed Christians must be put away. There is earnest warfare
before all who would subdue the evil tendencies that strive for the mastery. The work of
preparation is an individual work. We are not saved in groups. The purity and devotion of
one will not offset the want of these qualities in another. Though all nations are to pass
in judgment before God, yet He will examine the case of each individual with as close and
searching scrutiny as if there were not another being upon the earth. Everyone must be
tested and found without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.
Solemn are the scenes
connected with the closing work of the atonement. Momentous are the interests involved
therein. The judgment is now passing in the sanctuary above. For many years this work has
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 Saviour's admonition: "Watch and pray: for
ye know not when the time is." Mark 13:33. "If therefore thou shalt not watch, I
will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon
thee." Revelation 3:3.
When the work of the
investigative judgment closes, the destiny of all will have been decided for life or
death. Probation is ended a short time before the appearing of the Lord in the clouds of
heaven. Christ in the Revelation, looking forward to that time, declares: "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.
And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his
work shall be." Revelation 22:11, 12.
The righteous and the wicked
will still be living upon the earth in their mortal state--men will be planting and
building, eating and drinking, all unconscious that the final, irrevocable decision has
been pronounced in the sanctuary above. Before the Flood, after Noah entered the ark, God
shut him in and shut the ungodly out; but for seven days the people, knowing not that
their doom was fixed, continued their careless, pleasure-loving life and mocked the
warnings of impending judgment. "So," says the Saviour, "shall also the
coming of the Son of man be." Matthew 24:39. Silently, unnoticed as the midnight
thief, will come the decisive hour which marks the fixing of every man's destiny, the
final withdrawal of mercy's offer to guilty men.
"Watch ye therefore: . .
. lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping." Mark 13:35, 36. Perilous is the
condition of those who, growing weary of their watch, turn to the attractions of the
world. While the man of business is absorbed in the pursuit of gain, while the pleasure
lover is seeking indulgence, while the daughter of fashion is arranging her adornments--it
may be in that hour the Judge of all the earth will pronounce the sentence: "Thou art
weighed in the balances, and art found wanting." Daniel 5:27.