Seventh-day Adventism Teaches That Jesus' Blood Defiles

The Seventh-day Adventist Doctrine of "Investigative Judgment" is one of the most important teachings of their theology. The Seventh-day Adventist denomination developed from the roots of William Miller's teaching though Miller never joined the movement. Miller (1782-1849) was at one time a Baptist preacher who from 1816-1818 spent considerable time studying Scripture, particularly the book of Daniel. He came to the conclusion that Christ would return "about 1843." Later he declared the Christ would return during the Jewish year March 21, 1843-March 21, 1844. He based that on his interpretation of Daniel 9:24-27 and Daniel 8:14. His calculations rest on several unproved assumptions:

  1. A day in prophetic writings always represents a year.
  2. The 70 weeks (Daniel 9:24) and the 2300 days (Daniel 8:14) began at the same time.
  3. The starting date was 457 B.C. (based on Ussher's chronology).
  4. The cleansing of the sanctuary spoken of in Daniel 8:14 stands for Christ's return to earth.

The designated year arrived, the Lord did not return, and there was keen disappointment in Miller and his followers who were called "Millerites." Miller was still sure that he was right. A "re-interpretation" was promoted by Samuel S. Snow, one of the Millerite leaders. He became convinced that the 2300 years of Daniel 8:14 were to end not in the spring of 1844, as Miller had thought, but in the fall of that year. He predicted that Christ would return on October 22,1844—the Day of Atonement. The Millerite camp quickly accepted this re-interpretation, including Miller himself. Anticipation and excitement mounted as the day approached. However, Christ did not return, and this time the disappointment was overwhelming. Many gave up what was now referred to as the "Advent Faith." However, there were still many who clung to it. One such group had gathered at the home of Hiram Edson in Port Gibson, New York on the appointed day to await Christ's return. The following morning, Edson along with a companion, decided to go comfort the other Adventist with assurance that they had received in prayer. Edson claimed to have seen a vision while passing through a large field at this time. In his own words he wrote:

We started, and while passing through a large field I was stopped about midway of the field. Heaven seemed open to my view, and I saw distinctly and clearly that instead of our High Priest coming out of the Most Holy of the heavenly sanctuary to come to this earth on the tenth day of the seventh month, at the end of the 2300 days. He for the first time entered on that day the second apartment of the sanctuary and He had a work to perform in the most holy before coming to this earth.1

Edson now believed there was a heavenly sanctuary corresponding to the Old Testament earthly sanctuary which had been patterned after it, and that there were two phases of Christ's heavenly ministry, just as there had been two phases in the sanctuary ministry of the Old Testament priests. Simply stated, Edson believed that Christ, instead of having come out of the holy of holies of the heavenly sanctuary to this earth at the end of the 2300 days, had for the first time passed from the holy place of the heavenly sanctuary into the heavenly holy of holies. His conclusion: Miller had not been wrong in his calculations, but simply in thinking that the sanctuary which was to be cleansed at the end of the 2300 day period was a sanctuary on earth.

Two other persons, O.R.L Crosier and a physician Dr. Franklin B. Hahm, had become involved in the movement earlier with Edson. These men applied themselves to Bible study, particularly in regard to the sanctuary ministry as described in the Old and New Testaments and in the book of Hebrews. Crosier wrote:

"We must see in the work of Christ a fulfillment of the work of the Old Testament priests. In the daily work of these priest, when they presented the daily offering to God and brought the blood of these offerings into the holy place, sprinkling it before the veil or applying it to the horns of the altar of incense, they were only transferring iniquity from the people to the sanctuary."

Crosier declared that on the Day of Atonement the sanctuary was cleansed when the high priest entered the holy of holies and sprinkled the blood of the slain goat upon the mercy seat (p.1232). After the sanctuary had been cleaned, the sins of the people were then put on the head of the scapegoat which was then sent into the wilderness (p. 1232). Therefore there were two parts in the ministry of the Old Testament priests: the first (daily ministry, which had to do with the holy place) led to the forgiveness of sins; the second (the yearly ministry, which had to do with the holy of holies), led to the blotting out of sins (p. 1232).

Crosier expounded further: these two phases of priestly ministry are also seen in the work of Christ. Throughout the centuries of the Christian era Christ has been doing a work comparable to the daily ministry of the priests, which work resulted in the forgiveness of sins but not in the blotting out of sin (p. 1233).

The process of blotting out sin began on October 22, 1884, when Christ entered the holy of holies of the heavenly sanctuary, an action which was comparable to the work of the high priest on the Day of Atonement. However, since the cleansing of the sanctuary was not complete until the sins of the people have been laid on the scapegoat, who, Crosier declared, typified not Christ but Satan: the last act of Christ's priestly ministry will be to take the sins of the heavenly sanctuary and to place them on Satan (pp. 1233-1234). Only after this has happened will Christ return (p. 1234).2

This teaching is the basis for the later Adventist teaching that Christ entered the heavenly holy of holies, and became known as the "Investigative Judgment" doctrine.

Another prominent person in the early history of Seventh-day Adventism was Joseph Bates. From 1839 onward he was in the forefront of the Adventist movement. Bates became convinced that the seventh day was the proper Sabbath for Christians to observe through reading an article in the Portland, Maine Hope of Israel of February 28,1845. Prior to this time a group of Adventists in Washington, New Hampshire, had been influenced by some Seventh-day Baptist to embrace the seventh day as a Sabbath. That began through the influence of a woman, Mrs. Rachel Oakes, who was attending an Adventist communion service on Sunday in the winter of 1843. After the service Mrs. Oakes challenged the preacher, Frederick Wheeler, to "put the cloth back over the communion table until he was willing to keep all the commandments of God, including the fourth." Wheeler promised her he would do some serious study on the subject and in March of 1844 he arrived at the conclusion that the seventh day was the proper Sabbath and began to observe it. Soon the leaders of the group accepted this view and the Washington, New Hampshire, group became the first Adventists to observe the seventh day.

Bates became involved with the group shortly after that time. Early in 1846 Bates wrote a forty-eight page tract entitled Seventh-Day Sabbath, A perpetual Sign. In it he argued that the seventh-day Sabbath has been prefigured in creation, ordained in Eden, and confirmed at Mt. Sinai.

In 1847 he wrote another tract, in which he discussed the message of the three angels of Revelation 14:6-12. Bates identified the beast as the Papacy and argued that it was the Papacy which changed the Sabbath from the seventh day to the first. Bates emphasized that obedience to God's commandments as regarded by the third angel was to consist particularly in the observance of the seventh day. The Adventists began to teach that the keeping of the seventh day was the "seal of God."

At this time two more prominent early leaders of the Adventist movement came to the scene-Ellen Harmon and James White. Ellen Gould Harmon was born in 1827 in Gorham, Maine. While still a child her family moved to Portland, Maine. Going home from school one day at the age of nine, Ellen was struck in the face by a stone thrown by an older girl. She was unconscious for weeks, her nose was broken, her face disfigured. Complication from this traumatic event, with succeeding complication, continued for years to make her an invalid.

In 1840 and 1842 William Miller lectured in Portland on the Second Advent. The Harmon family attended these lectures and came to accept Miller's teachings. They were, as a result, disfellowshiped from the Methodist church. Following the "great disappointment" of 1844 Ellen had her first vision which was followed by another vision. She began a life of public witnessing, counseling, teaching and writing. On August 30, 1846 she married James White, a young Adventist preacher who had been active in the Millerite movement.

Soon, a sizable group of Adventist believers in the Portland area began to recognize that Mrs. White was uniquely guided by the Holy Spirit-that she was a true prophetess, whose visions and words were to be followed. Others in the Adventist movement came to accept Mrs. White's leadership. Her husband claimed that during the earlier part of her ministry she had from one hundred to two hundred "open visions." These "open visions" later decreased and guidance came to her through messages in the waking hours or through dreams in her sleep. In February, 1845, she had a vision of Jesus entering into the holy of holies of the heavenly sanctuary thus confirming Hiram Edson's vision received in October of the preceding year. On April 7, 1847, she had a vision in which she was taken first into the holy place, then into the holy of holies of the heavenly sanctuary. There she saw the ark and the Ten Commandments in the ark, with a halo of glory around the Sabbath commandment. This vision confirmed Bate's teaching about the seventh day.

Article 19 of the "Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist" declares:

That the gift of the Spirit of prophecy is one of identifying marks of the remnant church. They [Seventh Day Adventists] recognize the gift was manifested in the life and ministry of Ellen G. White.

Thus the teachings of three Millerite Adventist groups formed the foundation of the new denomination:

  1. The group headed by Hiram Edsom in western New York state, which emphasized the doctrine of the heavenly sanctuary.
  2. The group in Washington, New Hampshire, which along with Bates advocated the observance of the seventh day.
  3. The group around Portland, Maine which held that Ellen G. White was a true prophetess, whose vision and words were to be followed by Adventists.

These three groups fused to form the Seventh-day Adventist denomination.


Adventism teaches that the cross of Christ brought a two-fold work:

  1. The sacrifice whereby atonement was provided
  2. After His ascension He applied this sacrifice. This work of application also has two phases:[1] from the time of His ascension to October 22, 1844, Christ did a work comparable to the daily ministry of the Old Testament priests, which resulted in the forgiveness of sins but not in the blotting out of sin;[2] On October 22, 1844, Christ entered on the "judgment phase" of His ministry whereby He blots out sin-a work, comparable to that of the high priest on the Day of Atonement.

Article 16 describes this judgment in some detail-to Seventh-day Adventists. The time of the cleansing of the sanctuary synchronizes with the period of the proclamation of the message of Revelation 14 and is a time of investigative judgment; first, with reference to the dead, and second, with reference to the living. This investigative judgment determines who of the myriad sleeping in the dust of the earth are worthy of part in the first resurrection, and who of its living multitudes are worthy of transition.

During the time of this judgment which began in 1844 and is still going on, the names of all professing believers who have ever lived are brought up, beginning with those who first lived on earth. When a name is brought up, that person's life is carefully scrutinized. The "books" mentioned in Revelation 20:12 are assumed to be books of record, in which both the good deed and the bad deeds of every man have been recorded. These records are carefully examined.

Christ now acts as the Advocate of His people, pleading cases which have been committed to Him. When the name of a true child of God comes up in the judgment, the record will reveal that every sin has been confessed and forgiven, and that the individual concerned has tried to keep all of God's commandments. Such an individual will then be "passed" in the investigative judgment, it will then be determined that this person is worthy of a part in the first resurrection.

Seventh-day Adventists make a clear distinction between the forgiveness of sins and the blotting out of sins. They teach that when a man repents and believes he receives forgiveness of sin, but not the blotting out of sins. His "forgiven" sins are still on record in the heavenly sanctuary, even after he has confessed them and after they have been forgiven. They declare that the Old Testament typology teaches this: when the priests brought the blood of the sin offering into the holy place, they simply transferred the iniquities of the people to the sanctuary. They further declare that the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant in Matthew 18:23-25 teaches that one's forgiveness can be canceled after it has been bestowed, as was the case with the unmerciful servant. Their book, Seventh-day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine states:

The actual blotting out of sin, therefore, could not take place the moment when a sin is forgiven, because subsequent deeds and attitudes may affect the final decision. Instead, the sin remains on the record until the life is complete-in fact, the Scripture indicated it remains until judgment"3

This issue is so critical to Adventists that they teach that no one can even say that a man's record is closed at his death:

He is responsible for his influence during life, and is just as surely responsible for his evil influence after he is dead. To quote the words of the poet, "The evil that men do lives after them," leaving a trail of sin to be charged to the account. In order to be just, it would seem that God would need to take all these things into account in the judgment.4

Sins will only be finally blotted out at the investigative judgment, Ellen G. White wrote:

When Christ, by virtue of His own blood, removes the sins of His people from the heavenly sanctuary at the close of His ministration [the investigative judgment], He will place them upon Satan, who, in the execution of the judgment must bear the final penalty.

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 . . . 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 . . . 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 . . . and he will at last suffer the full 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."5

Seventh-day Adventists derive this teaching from their interpretation of the second goat in Leviticus 16. On the Day of Atonement two goats were to be brought to the high priest. He was to cast lots upon the goats; "And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat." (Lev 16:8, KJV). After the high priest has completed the work of bring the blood of the slain first goat into the holy of holies, he laid both of his hands upon the second goat, and then proceeded to confess over him all the sins of the nation of Israel. The second goat was sent away into the wilderness. The Hebrew word for "scapegoat" is azazel. Seventh-day Adventists interpret this word to mean Satan. They maintain that the live goat was not slain, and therefore did not provide any propitiation for the sins of the people. "Azazel" occurs just four times in the Old Testament, all in Leviticus 16. Bible scholars are quite divided concerning the meaning of this obscure word.

The doctrine of Investigative Judgment is built on a system of errors, on a mistaken interpretation of Daniel 8:4 and on a faulty understanding on the Old Testament sacrificial system. Seventh-day Adventists teach that the sprinkling of the blood of the daily or occasional sacrifice by the Old Testament priests polluted the sanctuary, whereas the sprinkling of the blood of the goat slain on the Day of Atonement cleansed the sanctuary. The Seventh-day Adventist book, Seventh-day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine advocates this teaching (pp. 431-32).


We may well ask, "Why should the sprinkling of sacrificial blood in one instance pollute the sanctuary, and in the other instance cleanse it? Why should such sprinkling of blood mean, in one case, that the sin involved was now recorded in the sanctuary, and, in the other instance, that the sin was removed for the sanctuary?" Furthermore, Scripture is clear—sacrificial blood does not pollute, it cleanses! Notice the following Scripture passages:

Passover: The blood of the sacrificial lamb at the first Passover does not in any way pollute any person or thing. In fact, God declares in vs. 14 below "The blood shall be a sign for you." The blood sprinkled on the doorway of the homes of the Israelites was anything but polluted—that blood was actually a "shield of freedom" for the Israelites.

Scripture: Exodus 12:1-13

Consecration of Aaronic priests: Notice that the blood taken from the Altar of Burnt Offering and applied to various parts of Aaron's body was declared by God to consecrate Aaron, not pollute him!

Scripture: Exodus 29:1, 10-21

Again notice in the passage below that the blood poured out at the base of the altar consecrated it.

Scripture Leviticus 8:15

And, again Moses consecrated Aaron with the blood from the altar.

Scripture Leviticus 8:30

And again blood for cleansing.

Scripture Leviticus 14:14

And, again

Scripture Leviticus 14:17


Scripture Leviticus 14:25 (see also Leviticus 14:28, 51-52)

In Ezekiel 43 instruction are given for a future temple. Notice the passage below in which instructions are given for applying the blood on four horns of the altar and the four corners of the ledge, which application brought cleansing!

Scripture Ezekiel 43:18-26

The book of Hebrews develops in some detail the Old Testament sacrificial system and contrasts the Covenant with the New Covenant inaugurated by Christ. Read this chapter and then consider the questions which follow.

Scripture Hebrews 9

Where is there any indication of an "investigative judgment" in that chapter? Furthermore, why would God have to wait until after a person's death, indeed, long after his death in order to see how the "scales" will balance for that person? Is not our God omniscient? Does He have to wait until "all the records and testimonies" concerning a person's life are brought in and then have an "investigation" in order to "judge" whether the person is fit to inherit eternal life? And if, as Seventh-day Adventists teach, many of the Old Testament offerings "polluted" the sanctuary why does Hebrews 9:22 declare:

And according to the Law, on may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is not forgiveness.

The author says "almost," because in some cases certain vessels were purified by water, other by fire, (Num. 31:23), and some with the ashes of the red heifer (Num. 19:2-10). It was always understood that everything was at first cleansed by the blood of the victim.

However, this whole teaching of "investigative judgment" which is to be carried on after death, and in which Christ is to be intricately involved, is a "damnable doctrine" that has been perpetuated on people!


Our Savior's work is finished! It would appear to me that Seventh-day Adventists have totally missed on of the most crucial teaching of the book of Hebrews. I would call it "The case of the missing chair!" What is the whole purpose of the book of Hebrews? Is it not to prove to disillusioned Jewish believers of the first century who were in danger of defecting from Christianity that to revert to Judaism would be to revert to a dead system? Does the author not argue eloquently that Christ is better than the angels, than Moses, than Joshua, and that His priesthood was superior to the Aaronic priesthood? Did the author not go into intricate detail to build an airtight case proving that the offering of Christ far superseded the Old Testament offerings? And did he not argue that the New Covenant superseded and indeed replaced the Old Covenant. But the crowning blow to any hope of returning to the Levitical system is the fact that Christ, when he finished His work, sat down!

There was no chair in the tabernacle or in the temple. Already in 1:3 the author anticipates his dramatic, climatic statement which will come in 10:12, "When He has made purification for sins, He sat down . . . "The author again refers to sitting in 1:13 God never told any angel to sit at His right hand. And in 8:1 the author making a summation declares with emphasis:

Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of Majesty in the heavens.

And with a resounding crescendo the author builds his case throughout the book until he comes to the dramatic climax in 10:11-13:

And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD waiting for that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET.

And then to make the emphasis complete, the author in 12:2 declared

. . . fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Five times in the book the seated position of our Savior is emphasized. Why? To show to all readers for all time that the work of redemption is completed, totally accomplished, finished, done, concluded, consummated, ended, satisfied—in the words of John 19:30, FINISHED! How can Seventh-day Adventists presume to imply that our Savior's work is unfinished and we need an investigative judgment to consider the merits and demerits of a person to see if he is fit to enter the eternal kingdom? Additionally, that is a works salvation which totally contradicts the whole tenor of the New Testament teaching concerning salvation by grace through faith without merit on our part. To teach an investigative judgment as the Seventh-day Adventists teach is tantamount to heresy!

Additional Scripture: I John 1:7; Rev 7:14



1. This note is from a manuscript of his life and experiences, by Hiram Edson, quoted by Francis D Nichol, The Midnight Cry (Washington, Review and Herald, 1945) pg 458

2. Cincinnati Day Star, Vol. IV, pp 1228-1234, an Adventist publication, dated February 7, 1846

3. Seventh Day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine p 441

4. Ibid. p 420

5. The Great Controversy p 442

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