THE BOOKS OF HEAVEN
Three Different SDA Explanations
SDAs really confuse the matter of books in heaven. How many different books exist? Are all of the books in the Most Holy Place in heaven, or are some kept someplace less holy, but nearby God=s throne? Is there one set of books for professed believers and another set of books for unbelievers? Is the “book of life” in the O. T. the same as the “book of life” in the N. T.? Do the books contain actual “sins” or merely the “records” of sins? If they only contain the “records” of sins, then do the “records” defile God’s very Presence? Since Ellen White and SDAs argue among themselves when trying to answer the above questions, it is impossible to understand precisely what they teach.
GC421: [Ellen G. White] For eighteen centuries this work of ministration continued [only] in the first apartment of the sanctuary [the holy place]. The blood of Christ, pleaded in behalf of penitent believers, secured their pardon and acceptance with the Father, yet their SINS still remained upon the books of record. As in the typical service there was a work of atonement at the close of the year, so before Christ=s work for the redemption of men is completed there is a work of atonement for the removal of SIN from the sanctuary. This is the service which began when the 2300 days ended. At that time, as foretold by Daniel the prophet [GC479; Dan. 7:9, 10], our High Priest entered the most holy, to perform the last division of His solemn work B to cleanse the sanctuary. [This paragraph follows quotations of Heb. 6:19, 20 and 9:12.] [no gaps]
GC421-422: As anciently the SINS of the people were placed by faith upon the sin offering and through its blood transferred, in figure, to the earthly sanctuary, so in the New Covenant the SINS of the repentant are by faith placed upon Christ and transferred, in fact, to the heavenly sanctuary. And
as the typical cleansing of the earthly was accomplished by the removal of the SINS by which it had been polluted, so the actual cleansing of the heavenly is to be accomplished by the removal, or blotting out, of the SINS which are there recorded. But before this can be accomplished, there must be an examination of the books of record to determine who, through repentance and faith in Christ, are entitled to the benefits of his atonement. The cleansing of the sanctuary therefore involves a work of investigation B a work of judgment. This work must be performed prior to the coming of Christ to redeem His people; for when He comes, His reward is with Him to give to every man according to his works. Revelation 22:12.
One: When you carefully read The Great Controversy, Chapter 23, What is the Sanctuary?, pages 409-422, you will conclude SDAs teach that, in the Old Covenant, the only sins while defiled the sanctuary were those which had been (1) confessed over sacrificial blood, (2) forgiven, (3) atoned and (4) brought into the sanctuary by the priests. Therefore, the Old Covenant books should only contain the forgiven sins of professed believers.
GC480: 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. ‘[For the time is come that] 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 of God?’ 1 Peter 4:17. [no gaps] [Notice the omission from 1 Peter 4:17.]
GC480: 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’ [Dan. 7:10]. 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.
Two: When you next carefully read Chapter 28, Facing Life’s Record, 479-491, the books being examined inside the Most Holy Place contain all sins, or “deeds,” of professed believers, not merely the sins which had been confessed, forgiven and received atonement (GC480-482). Yet we are not told how the un-confessed and un-forgiven sins have now violated the SDA=s own pattern-fulfillment (from Chapter 23) and are now inside the Most Holy Place in heaven!
Actually in the O. T. the real “investigation” by Israelites began BEFORE the Day of Atonement. It began on the first day of the tenth month (Trumpets) in connection with a call to fasting and contrition of heart. The “investigation” had been completed before the congregation presented their two goats to the High Priest (Lev. 23:24-29). In other words, the “investigation” began “before” the Day of Atonement and “ended” on the Day of Atonement. SDAs have the investigation “beginning” on the Day of Atonement and still continuing.
SDAs have invented an “investigation” of un-confessed sin after death in order to determine who will remain saved. Chapters 23 and 28 contain some of the most absurd teachings ever presented to mankind in the name of Christianity.
Three: In Chapter 42, The Controversy Ended, 662-678 (esp. 666), the same books of record (supposedly in the Most Holy Place in heaven) are now being used to judge the unbelievers at the Great White Throne Judgment.
Again notice the confusion found in these statements:
GC480: 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’ [Dan. 7:10]. 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.
Therefore, the contents of the books inside the Most Holy Place have changed from (1) only confessed sins of saints in Chapter 23, (2) to include all sins of saints in Chapter 28, and (3) to include all sins, including unbelievers in Chapter 42. Therefore, SDAs are inconsistent with their own teachings.
The Truth about the Books
One: THE BOOK OF LIFE. There is a difference between the Old and New Covenants’ use of the term, “book of life.” With the questionable exception of Daniel 12:1, in the Old Covenant, it is the “book of the living” and has little or no direct reference to afterlife. Entrance into the Old Covenant community was gained by the Passover event, genealogy and circumcision. The Law was added, not to create a relationship, but to maintain fellowship. “And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remains in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem” (Isa. 4:3).
Also, in the Old Covenant, “blotting out” usually meant “put to death,” or “cut off from the living” with no relevance to the soul or afterlife. For example, in Exodus 32:32-33, when Moses told God “if you will not forgive Israel’s sin then “blot me out of your book,” he was neither asking to be eternally separated from God, nor was he asking to be sent to lower Sheol. Instead, Moses was asking God to accept himself as an innocent substitute for the sins of the guilty. God’s answer, “Whosoever has sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book,” meant that He would not accept Moses’ substitute for deliberate high-handed sin. The penalty of defiant sin was being “cut off from the living” (Ex. 31:14; Lev. 17:9).
Two: THE REGISTER OF GENEALOGY. The O. T. “books” which determined access to God were the books of genealogy. The genealogies contained the names of all qualified Israelites, especially those of the priestly house of Aaron. “The LORD shall count, when he writes up the people, that this man was born there” (Ps. 87:6). “These are now the chief of their fathers, and this is the genealogy of them that went up with me from Babylon, in the reign of Artaxerxes the king” (Ezra 8:1). “And my God put into my heart to gather together the nobles, and the rulers, and the people, that they might be reckoned by genealogy. And I found a register of the genealogy of them which came up at the first, and found written therein” (Neh. 7:5). “So all Israel were reckoned by genealogies; and, behold, they were written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah, who were carried away to Babylon for their transgression” (1 Chron. 9:1). “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Mt. 1:1).
Three: The Old Testament does not reveal a required examination of lists of sins in order to determine which had been forgiven. Again, the books which were examined at the entrance of the assemblies were the books of genealogies. Those who could not prove that they were true Israelites (community members in good standing) were not allowed full-fledged worship in the assemblies, nor full access to the sanctuary or temple. Again, this was especially true of priests. “They could not show their father’s house, and their seed, whether they were of Israel” (Ezra 2:59). Those who could not prove that they were true descendants of Aaron could not enter the priesthood. Ezra 2:62 and Nehemiah 7:64 describe the removal from the “register” of those who failed to qualify for the priesthood: “These sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but they were not found; therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood.” Even the prophets were not exempt. Ezekiel 13:9, “And my hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and you shall know that I am the Lord GOD.”
Four: In the New Testament, the “book of life” already contains the names of those who are true believers. The names have been written there while the believers are still living. “Rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Lk. 10:20). “Whose names are in the book of life” (Phil. 4:3). Comparable to the Old Covenant genealogy, “To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven” (Heb. 12:23). In Revelation 13:8 those suffering during great tribulation already have their names Awritten in the book of life.@
GC421: [Ellen G. White] … before Christ’s work for the redemption of men is completed there is a work of atonement for the removal of SIN from the sanctuary. This is the service which began when the 2300 days ended. [in 1844]
GC421: … so in the New Covenant the SINS of the repentant are by faith placed upon Christ and transferred, in fact, to the heavenly sanctuary.
Five: “Sins” has been capitalized by this author in the Ellen White quotes for a reason. Some SDA theologians try to lessen the impact of her statements by saying she only meant “the record of sins” when she wrote “their SINS still remained upon the books of record.” Yet this cannot possibly be the meaning of all of her statements about “sins.” Such claim destroys her point that “sins” were transferred into the Most Holy Place of the entire universe and that “sins” defiled it. Mere judicial records of pardons of sin would not defile! EGW plainly teaches that “sins” “in fact” entered the Most Holy Place in heaven.
Dan. 7:10 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.
Dan. 7:22 until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom. NASU
Six: SDAs point to Daniel 7 in an attempt to find texts which support their claim that the lives of the righteous (to determine salvation) will be investigated after their death. However, the sins of God’s people are not on trial in Daniel 7. Instead, God’s people are the ones being persecuted and rescued. The context makes it so evident that this is a judgment of, and against, the little horn and the kingdoms which have persecuted Israel that it is marginally worth discussing.
After describing the kingdoms which have persecuted God’s people in verses 1-8, a judgment scene is described in verses 9-10 in which those kingdoms were punished in verses 11-12. A second look at the heavenly judgment is in verses 13-14 which has the same result of the Son of man replacing the persecuting nations with His own eternal kingdom. In verses 15-20 Daniel is not concerned about the saints being judged. Instead he is worried about the little horn. The little horn is “waging war with the saints and overpowering them” in verse 21 “until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints” in verse 22. This obviously means “in favor of the saints” because it was “against the little horn.” Yet, incredibly, the SDA Biblical Research Committee wrote in 1989, “Nowhere in Daniel 7 does the ‘Son of man’ judge either the little horn or the beast,” Doctrine of the Sanctuary, 223.
According to their own initial explanation (GC409-422), the SDA Investigative Judgment doctrine on the Day of Atonement is an investigation of the previously recorded forgiven sins of professed believers which have been recorded inside the Most Holy Place through blood sacrifice and have consequently defiled it. The sins of the persecuting powers and the little horn from Daniel 7 have absolutely no relevance to this version of the SDAs= investigation.
Rev. 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and 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.
Rev. 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Seven: Seventh-day Adventists also have no legitimate reason for quoting Revelation 20:12 in order to prove their Investigative Judgment doctrine because it occurs 1000 years after their Investigative Judgment has ended with Christ=s second coming. Yet EGW calls it “the same scene” as Daniel 7:10, 13 in order to justify using it to explain their Investigative Judgment scenario. See especially GC480. Compare also GC548-549, 660 and 661.
Therefore, Daniel 7:10 and Revelation 20:12, the two most important texts used by SDAs to validate the presence of books at the pre-advent investigative judgment are both invalid. Daniel 7:10 is clearly a judgment against the little horn which rescues the saints and Revelation 20:12 is a post-advent judgment of unbelievers. However, if their doctrine were true, one would expect solid biblical verification.
“If God alone were concerned, there would certainly be no need of records. But that the inhabitants of the whole universe, the good and evil angels, and all who have ever lived on this earth might understand His love and His justice, the life history of every individual who has ever lived on the earth has been recorded, and in the judgment these records will be disclosed B for every man will be judged according to what is revealed in ‘the books’ of record (Dan. 7:10; Rev. 20:12).” Seventh-day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine, 420-421, entire paragraph quoted.
Eight: SDAs explain the delay in Christ=s return by changing the “examiner” of the books from Jesus to the “inhabitants of the whole universe, the good and evil angels, and all who have ever lived.” Will evil angels be inside the Most Holy Place examining the life history of everybody who has ever lived? The Great Controversy often portrays human life in terms of a controversy, or dialog, between God and Satan. Satan challenged God with unfairness in saving some and not others. Satan has placed a doubt in the minds of all of God=s creation about God’s fairness. Therefore, the Investigate Judgment vindicates the righteousness of God by opening the books of record for all to view and convince themselves that God is just and fair.
However this explanation creates another huge problem. As God the Son, Christ is Omniscient and does not require researching books B He knows everything! God can very quickly personally review every record. However, the myriads of “other intelligent creatures” who need to research the records in order to satisfy themselves that God is just are not omniscient! Even the evil angels take their turns. This means that casting them into Gehenna will be delayed.
How much faith do the un-fallen angels have that God is just? On the one hand, if they (any many others) have a lot of faith in God, then they do not need to research books! On the other hand, if they (and many others) do not trust God, do they dare to leave any of the books un-researched? Therefore, how long will it take the myriads of these non-omniscient created beings to read every page of every book of every person who has ever lived? Yet this investigation must be complete before Christ can return.
Another reason for the delay of Christ’s return since 1844 is the SDA doctrine of perfection among last day Seventh-day Adventists. EGW’s many references to “standing before God without a mediator” refer to the 144, 000 SDAs who have achieved character perfection. They cannot recall a single sin or thought that has been un-forsaken. Sadly, SDAs have forgotten that Christ comes as a Melchizedek-type priest-king and not only as a king. They teach that, when he removes his priestly garments and puts on his kingly garments he can no longer function as a priest and, therefore, those redeemed when he returns must be able to stand without a mediator. When the 144, 000 SDAs can prove to the world that the Ten Commandments can be perfectly observed without a mediator, then Christ will come. See GC425, 613-634.
**GC482: Every man’s work passes in review before God and is registered for faithfulness or unfaithfulness. Opposite each man’s 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 chronicles by the recording angel.”
**GC483: Names are accepted [since 1844], names rejected [since 1844]. When any have SINS remaining upon the books of record, un-repented of and un-forgiven, their names will be blotted out of the book of life [salvation lost after death], and the record of their good deeds will be erased from the book of God’s remembrance” [quotes Exod. 32:33 and Ezek. 18:24].
GC485: 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. [quotes Acts 3:19-20] (Compare GC417-426 with 479-493.)
Nine: Again, EGW’s chapter 28 (pages 479-491) contradicts her previous chapter 23 (pages 409-422). While in chapter 22, only forgiven sins are brought by blood into the sanctuary to defile it C in chapter 28 “every man’s work,” including un-confessed and un-forgiven sins are defiling the books of heaven. And there are the un-forgiven sins there which now cause the forgiven sins to be erased!
How can anybody be saved? From GC483 it is clear that Seventh-day Adventists teach that God will un-forgive previously forgiven sin. The “record of their good deeds” must include previous sincere confessions of sin. If any un-forgiven and un-forsaken sins go to the grave, then God will “erase” those sins which have been previously forgiven. Ellen White here used the word, Aerase,@ instead of “blotted out.” Since the book of remembrance contains all good actions, then it definitely must also contain the sincere confessions of sin (GC481).
This is the reason why SDAs teach that forgiven sins must still remain on the books of heaven until immediately before Christ returns (GC420-421). While those who have completely confessed and forsaken every sin will have their “sins” blotted out, those believers who failed to confess and forsake every sin will have the record of pardon against their confessed sins erased and their names will be blotted out of the book of life (GC483, 486).
Ezek. 18:24 But when the righteous turns away from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All his righteousness that he has done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he has trespassed, and in his sin that he has sinned, in them shall he die.
Ten: Ezekiel 18:24 is quoted by Ellen White in GC483 to prove that previously forgiven sins can be reversed and un-forgiven. However, Ezekiel 18 is a discussion of discipline of God=s people which can (and often does) result in physical death. EGW is confusing the O. T. concept of “blotting out of the book of life” (meaning physical death) with eternal spiritual separation from God.
As discussed earlier, when Moses wanted God to “blot me out of your book” (Ex. 32:32), he was asking to be physically slain (with no relevance to his soul or to an eternal presence with God). Yet Ellen White only quoted God’s reply to Moses (Ex. 32:33) when she quoted Eze. 18:24.
Ezekiel 18:24 is actually stating that previous forgiveness does not negate discipline for current and future sin! In other words, sins committed before conversion do not affect God’s discipline or treatment of the person in the present. How one acts in the present determines how God disciplines in the present. This is not a discussion about unforgiving previously forgiven sins.
Rev 3:1 And to the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things says he that has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know your works, that you have a name that you live, and are dead.
Rev. 3:4 You have a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
Rev. 3:5 He that overcomes, 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.
Eleven: Revelation 3:1-5 are battleground texts between Calvinists and Arminians and are interpreted two different ways. On the one hand, Calvinists (Presbyterians, Reformed, and many Baptists) say that, once your name has been written in the “book of life,” it cannot be removed and (they teach) these texts do not affirm that it can be removed. While the “dead” name from verse one is only on the church register on earth, the names in verse four are worthy over-comers whose names are not in jeopardy of being removed from God=s book.
On the other hand, Arminians teach that the names of those who do not continue to live a Christian life can be blotted out of the book of life. However, this does not mean that God “un-forgives” forgiven sins of the past. Even though a defiant lifestyle pursued after conversion can cause one to fall from grace (they teach), Arminians do not teach that God will ever “re-investigate” previously forgiven sins before finally blotting names out of the book of life. This is an SDA oddity from GC, chapter 23.
Historically, the church at Sardis did disappear very early. Although its name as a church was blotted out, the names of the faithful within it were not blotted out.
GC418: Remission, or the putting away of sin, is the work to be accomplished.@ [since 1844]
GC421, 422: “Their SINS still remained upon the books of record.” “In the New Covenant the SINS of the repentant are by faith placed upon Christ and transferred, in fact, to the heavenly sanctuary.” “There must be an examination of the books of record to determine who, through repentance and faith in Christ, are entitled to the benefits of his atonement.”
GC484: Jesus does not excuse their sins, but shows their penitence and faith ….
GC485: Thus will be realized the complete fulfillment of the New Covenant promise, “I will forgive their iniquity and I will remember their sins no more.” [Heb. 8:12]
GC485: It is impossible that the sins of men should be blotted out until after the judgment at which their cases are to be investigated.
GC486: 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.
Twelve: Seventh-day Adventists go far beyond the Arminian position (that sins committed after salvation can cause one to fall from grace). The above incredible statements from The Great Controversy are repeated for emphasis. The SDA doctrine is a denial of the New Covenant promise in Hebrews 8:12 that God chooses not to remember (at the least) sins of the past. In GC485 Ellen White places the fulfillment of this promise to long after death. Also the perfection requirements of the final section (GC482-486) make it impossible for anybody to be saved because nobody can remember all of his/her sins and control the influences of personal sins after death.
GC484: … when the names entered in the book of life come up in review [after 1844] before the Judge [the Father] of all the earth. The divine Intercessor [then] presents the plea that all who have overcome though faith in his blood [then] be forgiven their transgressions… He asks for his people not only pardon and justification, full and complete [not yet granted], but a share in his glory and a seat upon his throne [not yet granted].
Thirteen: What has Christ been doing since his ascension? To any person who really knows the gospel message, the above statement is simply ridiculous.
Rom. 3:25 Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.
Heb. 9:15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
Fourteen: Based on Christ’s eventual sacrifice, each sacrificial animal redeemed the penitent from the penalty and curse of sin (Rom. 3:25; Heb. 9:15). The redemption was effective because it granted full and complete forgiveness of sin. “Remission” means that the consequences of the sin have already been released, or canceled. However, SDAs place the “remission” of sins at the end of the Investigative Judgment, “Remission, or the putting away of sin, is the work to be accomplished [after 1844]” (GC418). Yet forgiveness brings remission. The pronouncement by the Old Covenant priest after the redemption for sin had been offered was “it shall be forgiven” (Lev. 4:20; 5:10; 6:7). SDAs cannot grasp this simple formula which occurs ten times in the Leviticus ritual alone. Contrary to EGW=s statement in GC483, previously forgiven and atoned sins are never in jeopardy of being either erased or blotted out by subsequent sin.
1 John 1:3 That which we have seen and heard declare we to you, that you also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
1 John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
GC486-487: Our acts, our words, even our most secret motives, all have their weight for deciding our destiny for weal or woe. Though they may be forgotten by us, they will bear their testimony to justify or condemn.
Fifteen: In GC482-487 EGW says that our forgotten sins and even those which we cause by our influences after death will testify against us in the Investigative Judgment. But un-confessed and un-forgiven forgotten and influenced sins would place every person under nothing but damnation.
However, the New Covenant, activated at Calvary, states “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities I will remember no more” (Heb. 8:12). Paul promised in his lifetime, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). “There is therefore now no condemnation [contrary judgment] to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). “For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col.3:3). These texts are not describing those who have achieved sinless perfection, but those who have achieved the imputed sinless perfection of Jesus Christ through faith.
First John 1:9 is a description of how believers stay in fellowship (not relationship) with God. Yet SDAs teach that forgotten sins, un-confessed sins and even influences of sins that continue after one dies can cause names of believers to be blotted out (GC486-487). This is garbage theology! Actually, if we confess our known sins (hamartia), then God will not only forgive those known confessed sins, but He will also “cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (a-dikia).
When one (sooner or later) sins after accepting Christ, then fellowship (not relationship) is immediately broken. “Fellowship” occurs four (4) times in First John 1:3, 6 and 7. This simple teaching is why God could (and did) grant an all-inclusive forgiveness both at Passover and at the Day of Atonement.