August 18, 2022 | Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | Ted N.C. Wilson, President, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

Greetings, Friends! Today we will be considering a very important question—What is Jesus doing now? As Christians, we know Jesus came to this Earth, lived a sinless life, died on the cross, rose again, and ascended back to heaven. Before leaving, He assured His disciples He would return, telling them in John 14:2, 3—”. . . I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

This promise was reiterated by angels to the disciples as they watched Christ ascend in the clouds. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into Heaven” (Acts 1:11).

So, we have the assurance that Jesus will return, but, you might wonder, what is he doing in the meantime?

Returning to the text in John 14:3, Jesus said that He was going to “prepare a place for you.” Could this preparation mean more than just building mansions for us in heaven? Perhaps there is more to prepare.

When it comes to important decisions, God has always investigated before acting, demonstrating His willingness to forgive, and giving each one of us an opportunity to be part of His plan. In the Garden of Eden, He came looking for Adam and Eve, asking them questions and giving them opportunity to respond. Before confusing the languages at the Tower of Babel, we are told, “the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built” (Gen. 11:5). Before delivering the Israelites from slavery, God told Moses, “I have surely seen the oppression of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians . . .” (Ex 3:7–8). And before destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, the Lord Himself decided to investigate, saying in Genesis 18:20, 21—”Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.”

My friends, before Jesus’ Second Coming, He is investigating the entire earth—everyone who has ever lived, every choice each person has made. God wants it to be clear to us, and to the watching universe, that not one person will experience a fate they did not choose. For you see, God is not coercive—He does not force us to follow Him.

But how will God know who to take to heaven, and who to leave? How can we be sure His actions will be just?

In Daniel 7:9-11, we read about a time when every person’s desires and actions will be considered to see what they really want—to be a part of God’s kingdom, or not. This is called the Investigative Judgment. God could consider each person’s case privately and simply tell everyone to trust Him, but He doesn’t do that. God will open the history books for us to see for ourselves. He allows everyone in heaven to be in on the process, ensuring He has been just to every person. He is open and honest, hiding nothing. That is how the kingdom of God works.

At this very moment, Jesus is in the heavenly sanctuary, working to reconcile humanity with God, and working to determine who desires to be a part of God’s kingdom. When this work is done, Jesus will return.

This important work is described in our Seventh-day Adventist Fundamental Belief #24 “Christ’s Ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary” which reads as follows:

 “There is a sanctuary in heaven, the true tabernacle that the Lord set up and not humans. In it Christ ministers on our behalf, making available to believers the benefits of His atoning sacrifice offered once for all on the cross. 

At His ascension, He was inaugurated as our great High Priest and began His intercessory ministry, which was typified by the work of the high priest in the holy place of the earthly sanctuary. 

In 1844, at the end of the prophetic period of 2300 days, He entered the second and last phase of His atoning ministry, which was typified by the work of the high priest in the most holy place of the earthly sanctuary. 

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.”

Friends, this solidly biblical belief gives us the opportunity to dive deeply into the word of God to understand the very important work that Christ is doing on our behalf right now, and I’m looking forward to studying this topic with you over the next couple of times as we meet together by video.

Let’s thank the Lord for being a fair and just God, a God who loves and cares about us, and a God who will one day make all things right, as we pray together just now. Father in Heaven. Thank you for instituting the great plan of salvation. Thank you for helping us to understand it through the Sanctuary Service. Thank you for what Jesus has done as the perfect Son of God, the perfect lamb. That was slain, the one who rose again and ascended to Heaven and is now interceding for us as our high priest. And we’re told in Scripture that because Jesus went through so much for us and understands everything, we can come boldly to the throne of grace. Lord, as we look forward to the coming of Christ, we thank you for the plan of salvation and the Sanctuary Service and the investigative judgment will, which will help all of us to fully understand God is just and fair and loving. Please, through the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace and blood of Jesus, save each one of us. Thank you for hearing us. In Christ name. Amen.

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