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Leading Question: “In the judgment, who is our accuser: God or Satan?”

Theme: Joshua’s new robes, Zechariah 3:1-10

According to Ellen White’s own account, the events described in Zechariah 3:1-10 played a key role in her experience. Potentially, the same passage could be significant in the life of modern Adventism. In a narrative found in Life Sketches (1915), Ellen White describes what happened in Salamanca, New York on the evening of November 3. In that description, she mentions her request to God in a vision of 1880: “Where is the security for the people of God in these days of peril?” she asked.

The answer was an echo of Zechariah 3: “Jesus maketh intercession for His people, though Satan standeth at His right hand to resist Him.” ‘And the Lord said unto Satan, 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?’” – Life Sketches, 324

The Index to the Writings of Ellen White suggests that this 1880 comment was the first reference to Zechariah 3 in her published writings. In Testimonies 5:467-76 (1885) she develops her comments into a more complete narrative. That is the passage that Clifford Goldstein quotes extensively (pp. 133-138) in Graffiti in the Holy of Holies (PPPA 2003), his response to ex-SDA Dale Ratzlaff. Goldstein is using the passage in defense of a strong doctrine of righteousness by faith and a defense of the doctrine of the investigative judgment.

Ever since 1888, Adventists have struggled to balance two opposing impulses in human experience: the emphasis on human freedom and responsibility, which, in the lives of some, can move into dangerous forms of perfectionism; and the emphasis on grace and divine sovereignty which, in the lives of some, can move into a dangerous carelessness. One can trace this tension from Old Testament times into our own day:

Old Testament Jeremiah — Ezekiel
New Testament James — Paul
5th Century Pelagius — Augustine
16th Century Jacob Arminius — John Calvin
18th Century John Wesley — George Whitefield
SDA Kenneth Wood, Herbert Douglass — H. M. S. Richards, Sr, Desmond Ford

Most believers find a way integrating both elements into their experience. But for some it has seemed impossible. Augustine, for example, a supporter of grace even to the point of predestination, saw no way of integrating free will and grace: “In trying to solve this question,” he said, “I made strenuous efforts on behalf of the preservation of the free choice of the human will, but the grace of God defeated me.” – from Henry Chadwick, Augustine (Oxford, 1986), 117, citing Retractationes ii.1 (addressed to Simplicianus of Milan)

Supporters of each position can appeal to a striking Ellen White quotation. On the side grace, this striking quote from Steps to Christ seems definitive:

The closer you come to Jesus, the more faulty you will appear in your own eyes; for your vision will be clearer, and your imperfections will be seen in broad and distinct contrast to His perfect nature. This is evidence that Satan’s delusions have lost their [64/65] power; that the vivifying influence of the Spirit of God is arousing you. {SC 64.2}

No deep-seated love for Jesus can dwell in the heart that does not realize its own sinfulness. The soul that is transformed by the grace of Christ will admire His divine character; but if we do not see our own moral deformity, it is unmistakable evidence that we have not had a view of the beauty and excellence of Christ. {SC 65.1}

The less we see to esteem in ourselves, the more we shall see to esteem in the infinite purity and loveliness of our Saviour. A view of our sinfulness drives us to Him who can pardon; and when the soul, realizing its helplessness, reaches out after Christ, He will reveal Himself in power. The more our sense of need drives us to Him and to the word of God, the more exalted views we shall have of His character, and the more fully we shall reflect His image. {SC 65.2}

On the other side of the equation a quotation from Christ’s Object Lessons has often been the focal point of Adventist perfectionism and has provided the basis for what has been called, “last generation” or “final generation” theology, a system developed by M. L. Andreasen and strongly supported by Herbert Douglass:

When the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.” Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own. {COL 69.1} It is the privilege of every Christian not only to look for but to hasten the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, (2 Peter 3:12, margin). Were all who profess His name bearing fruit to His glory, how quickly the whole world would be sown with the seed of the gospel. Quickly the last great harvest would be ripened, and Christ would come to gather the precious grain. {COL 69.2}

Desmond Ford’s famous attack on the investigative judgment in 1979, is widely credited by many in Adventism as providing a corrective on the side of grace, a response to the strong perfectionism supported by Kenneth Wood when he was editor of the Adventist Review (1966-1982). When William Johnsson, editor of the Adventist Review from 1982-2006, shifted the emphasis back toward grace, the independent Adventist organization, Our Firm Foundation, became the headquarters for “last generation” theology. But its attitude toward the mainstream church became so strident, that the North American Division of SDA finally published a response and refutation, not only of OFF, but also of Hartland Institute, and of John Osborne’s Prophecy Countdown (Issues: The Seventh-day Adventist Church and Certain Private Ministries, North American Division of SDA, nd. [1992]).

Remarkably, when Herbert Douglass published his monumental biography of Ellen White, Messenger of the Lord (PPPA 1998), it was edited by Kenneth Wood and dedicated to Wood. But all traces of “last generation” theology had been stripped from its pages, even though both Wood and Douglass were strong advocates of it. With last generation theology now making a comeback, Herbert Douglass has again become a significant spokesman for it.

Returning to Zechariah 3:1-10, what Goldstein apparently did not realize when he cited Ellen White’s commentary from 5T 467-76 (1885), was that her Prophets and Kings version of that account (pp. 582-92) incorporated significant changes. One notable omission and one addition are probably most important.

The notable omission is a statement that is quite true, but liable to be misunderstood. In 5T 472 the statement appears: “No sin can be tolerated with those who shall walk with Christ in White.” One certainly not want to say the opposite, that sin can be tolerated with those who walk with Christ. Still, that strong statement could imply a dangerous form of perfectionism that would discourage sensitive and struggling souls. That could explain why it is omitted in PK.

The notable addition is even more striking, especially in light of the “last generation” theology that argues for character perfection as the requirement for salvation and for the return of Christ. On p. 474 of the account in 5T, the relevant paragraph concludes with these words: “He who has been most abused by their ingratitude, who knows their sin, and also their repentance, declares: “‘The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan.’ I gave my life for these souls. They are graven upon the palms of my hands.”

At the end of the same paragraph in Prophets and Kings, appears this striking addition: “They may have imperfections of character; they may have failed in their endeavors; but they have repented, and I have forgiven and accepted them” (PK, 589). Yes, God will save those whose characters fall short of perfection because they have accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on their behalf. The implications of that quotation for “last generation” theology are enormous.

Study and Discussion Questions. Most of the “problem” quotations in Scripture and in the writings of Ellen White contain truths which are likely to be distorted by serious-minded and committed Seventh-day Adventists. For each of the following Ellen White quotations, explore the possible biblical roots and the potential application of Zechariah 3:1-10.

  1. “We must stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator” (GC, 425).
  2. “When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own” (COL 69.1)
  3. 3. “The closer you come to Jesus, the more faulty you will appear in your own eyes” (SC 64). The following article addresses the question of the investigative judgment. It was triggered by Desmond Ford’s attack on that doctrine. It is part of a larger series on the growth and development of Ellen White’s theology. The five-part series was published in The Adventist Review in December, 1981. Part 6 which follows below was published in the Walla Walla College (now university) alumni journal, Westwind. In short, Zechariah 3:10 allows us to see the investigative judgment as a theodicy issue where the believer stands in court, not as the accused, but as a witness to the goodness of God.
Even the Investigative Judgment Can Be Good News
By Alden Thompson, Westwind, pp. 4-7, 11, Winter 1982
“From Sinai to Golgotha,” Part 6
(cf. Adventist Review, December 3, 10, 17, 24, 31, 1981; July 1, 1982)
Unless otherwise noted, biblical quotations are from the Revised Standard Version

In a world of sin, the specter of judgment raises both our hopes and our fears. Scripture portrays the human family as playing several roles within the framework of the judgment concept: the role of the plaintiff, who cries out against oppression, injustice, and the suffering of innocent people; the role of the accused, who stands before the divine tribunal as one guilty of contributing to the agony and pain in the world; and the role of the witness, who has experienced salvation and speaks on behalf of the goodness of God and His law. An adequate doctrine of judgment should account for all three elements.

In the Adventist community, recent discussion has centered on the concept of the investigative judgment – its biblical foundation and its impact on Christian experience. A complicating factor is the variety of ways in which the imagery of the heavenly courtroom can be interpreted. Some interpret the symbols very literally, while others tend to think in more abstract terms. The result is a certain tension that the Adventist community simply must learn to live with.

As is the case with many Christian doctrines, the biblical foundation of the Adventist doctrine of judgment is not found complete in a single context, but requires a synthesis of biblical data in the light of the Adventist experience. Furthermore, the community’s understanding of the doctrine has been a growing one, revealing shifts in emphasis and the integration of new elements. Leviticus 16, Daniel 7 to 9, Zechariah 3, and Revelation 14 are key passages. The book of Job also contributes to the larger picture, providing the cosmic setting highlighting the motives of the adversary.

But of paramount importance in Adventism is the way in which the believer has experienced judgment. If God is seen as both distant and reluctant, we may feel overwhelmed by the sense of our own unworthiness. The gulf between God and the sinner may seem too deep to bridge and God may be viewed as throwing down impossible demands.

If we find ourselves trembling and shaking before a reluctant God, we are hardly in a position to witness joyfully and confidently to His goodness. Yet, that is the ultimate goal of the judgment. In the words of Ellen White, “Ye are My witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God” (Isaiah 43:12) – “witnesses that He is good and that goodness is supreme” (Education, 154).

The only time that I could conceive of going to court gladly would be to witness for a good friend, one that I know and trust. In the context of the investigative judgment, that friend is God. To see the investigative judgment culminating in such a witness does not detract from the seriousness of the judgment for human beings, but rather enables us to look through the process of judgment to its goal and to sing the praises of the God who has redeemed us.

But, is it really possible to envision a joyful conclusion within the framework of the investigative judgment? If we take seriously Ellen White’s growing experience, we can indeed. In the course of her experience, she traveled the road from fear to love, from command to invitation, from Sinai to Golgotha. Such a shift in emphasis in no way lessens the ethical demands of God’s law. A response out of love actually intensifies our sense of responsibility because it flows from within.

This article describes the shift in emphasis in the concept of the investigative judgment that is reflected in the writings of Ellen White, a shift which enables the believer to live in the assurance that God is both willing and able to save those who come to him.

Perhaps a quick synopsis of the two different emphases would provide a simple comparison between the Sinai and Golgotha views of the investigative judgment.

From a Sinai perspective, the judgment accentuates the gulf between a holy God and a sinful people. The thought of standing in the presence of a holy God without a mediator brings terror just as it did for ancient Israel (cf. Exodus 20:18-19).

By contrast, a Golgotha perspective emphasizes the union between God and the believer. The believer has fully recognized his own status as a sinner, but has also fully accepted the sacrifice of Christ on his behalf. As a result, the believer no longer sees God simply as Judge, but as Father; he no longer trembles in God’s presence as the accused, for he stands acquitted in Christ Jesus. The fear of judgment is gone. God has claimed him as His own.

No longer preoccupied with his own survival, the believer now recognizes that judgment has a much greater purpose, namely the vindication of God and His law against the attacks of Satan. Confidently, the believer now stands in court as a witness to the goodness of God and His law.

In Ellen White’s experience, the roots of that more positive view of judgment go back to a vision of 1880. Its fruit appeared in mature form in Prophets and Kings (1915). We shall look at the details shortly, but the 35 years between point to a significant question, namely, why was the “better” explanation so long in coming? My own conviction is that the early Adventists would never have believed it. I would use a similar argument in explaining the long “delay” before God sent His Son. Among the ex-slaves at Sinai, the gentle man from Nazareth would have been trampled in the dust. Sinai had to come before Golgotha; the impact of sin made it necessary.

But a shift in emphasis in the understanding of the investigative judgment also requires a willingness to see God in a particular way, as a God who is not afraid to allow the universe to put His law and His government to the test. Now for some reason, I have had no great difficulty accepting the idea of God putting His law and government on trial before the universe. Yet, I have occasionally wondered why some Adventists, and very loyal ones at that, simply did not get very excited about the idea. I caught a clearer glimpse into that kind of thinking in connection with the Sabbath School lessons on Job a few quarters ago. Some of the believers were very uncomfortable with the way Satan talked with God (cf. Job 1:9-12; 2:3-6). Such talk was inappropriate and ought not to have been allowed! They firmly believed in the Bible but they did not know what to do with the book of Job.

Behind that kind of thinking lie two significant convictions that play a powerful role, especially in the lives of religious people: First, that sinners cannot exist in the presence of a holy God, and second, that created beings dare not question God. Both statements are terribly true, terribly dangerous, and very easily misunderstood.

The first statement has biblical support (e.g., Exodus 33:21-23; Deuteronomy 4:24; I Timothy 6:16; cf. Revelation 6:17) and expresses the fundamental truth that sin and holiness are ultimately incompatible. The second statement likewise has biblical support (esp. Romans 9:9-23; cf. Isaiah 45:9-11) and expresses the fundamental truth that God is the ultimate authority.

Why then are such statements so dangerous? Because a guilty conscience can distort them, imagining horrible things about God, things which the mind can come to believe as truth. Thus, the incompatibility of holiness and sin can be exaggerated to the point where God is seen as angry and disgusted with this race of rebels, annoyed that He has to have any contact with sinners at all, and demanding that every sin be fully punished.

As for God’s ultimate authority, an over-emphasis can lead to the total exclusion of human freedom. Thus God becomes, at best, a benevolent dictator, at worse, a cruel despot.

The natural results of sin tend to encourage both exaggerations. That is precisely why sin is so sinister and devastating. We see the first clear example in the experience of Adam and Eve where their own sense of guilt drove them to hide from God and even to blame Him for their failure, though there had been no display of “divine wrath” (cf. Genesis 3:8-13). Even fully repentant sinners have difficulty believing that God wishes full restoration as the cry of the prodigal son poignantly reveals: “I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants” (Luke 15:19). Most assuredly, sonship does not depend on worthiness, yet the adversary plays on the guilt feelings which naturally follow sin, tempting us to believe that God has turned His back on us in anger.

Thus, there is a fierce struggle within as we long to be with God and yet fear His presence. We are torn between the cry of Jacob: “I will not let you go, unless you bless me” (Genesis 32:26), and the cry of Peter: “Depart from me for I am a sinful man” (Luke 5:8). Only a new world and a new heart will still that battle forever. In the meantime, God seeks to convince us that sin is indeed a dangerous enemy, but that He loves us even when we sin.

In Scripture, we find interesting traces of that tension between the human longing to be reunited with God and the human horror of coming into His presence at all. Some passages suggest that seeing God is not possible (cf. Genesis 3:8-13), while others clearly demonstrate that not only is it possible, but that it has already happened, though the human participants were amazed that they had survived. Jacob exclaimed: “I have seen God face to face and yet my life is preserved” (Genesis 32:30). A similar reflection appears in that fascinating passage describing the meeting between God and the elders of Israel: “They saw the God of Israel… and He did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank” (Exodus 24:10-11). The biblical passage hints that by all rights He should have laid hands on them. But no, “they beheld God, and ate and drank.”

One way of resolving the tension between these two feelings is to emphasize the role of the mediator as our protection against the wrath of God. In Jesus Christ we find peace with God, for He paid the price of our sin. The wrath of God which we deserve has been poured out on our substitute. Thus, we keep our distance from God the Father, but find in Jesus Christ the friendly face of God. Such a view emphasizes the sovereignty and authority of God and is often attractive to those who keenly sense the gulf between God and man.

The emphasis on the sovereignty of God finds its most thorough development in John Calvin’s doctrine of predestination, a teaching which Adventists clearly reject. We believe it is our privilege to serve God out of love and by our own free choice.

A typical Calvinist would not be very enthusiastic about the “Great Controversy” story, at least not in the way Ellen White told it in her later years, for God is much too approachable and much too willing to put Himself and his law on trial before the universe. Interestingly enough, early Adventists would have sided very easily with the Calvinists when it came to their view of God. God, as they saw Him, would never open Himself to scrutiny; He is to be obeyed, not questioned.

But I am convinced that God was preparing Adventists to reach quite another audience than the Calvinists, namely modern skeptics who cannot believe that a good God has willed all the strife and trouble in this world. Adventists have been called to stand in that noble tradition of believing skeptics who are concerned about God’s reputation and are not afraid to say so, even to God Himself. Like Abraham, for example: “You can’t do that. You are the judge of all the earth!” (Genesis 18:25). Or like Moses: “If you do that what will the Egyptians say?” (Exodus 32:12). To be able to talk with God like that, however, one has to be on very good terms with Him. God must be known to be friendly, fair and open. But that is exactly what our forefathers had difficulty believing. It would take time before they could see the friendly face of God and even then, the possibility for confusion would not entirely disappear.

And that brings us to our modern problem as we attempt to resolve the tension between a reluctant God and a friendly one. In my own experience, the tension focused on the first chapter in Steps to Christ and the one on the investigative judgment in Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing (pp. 479-90). In Steps to Christ I learned that the view of God as a “severe judge” was a deception of satanic origin. It was Satan who “pictured the Creator as a being who is watching with jealous eye to discern the errors and mistakes of men” (SC 10-11).

But when I turned to Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing and read about the investigative judgment, I was in trouble again, for I was tempted to believe that God was, after all, looking for a way to keep me out of His kingdom, rather than trying to get me in: every word and deed is recorded with “terrible exactness” (GC, 481); every case is closely investigated and when any are found with a sin unrepented of, “their names are blotted out of the book of life” (GC, 483); even things that we have forgotten “will bear their testimony to justify or condemn” (GC, 487). The impression one can get from these passages is that even diligent effort in seeking forgiveness can all be for nought if we happen to “forget” a sin that we have committed at some point in our life. Now I know that the passages cited do not actually say that, but they do give that impression. I now recognize that these passages refer to cherished sins, an emphasis that puts quite a different complexion on the whole matter. But even then, whenever we think of the investigative judgment as the last hurdle before we can be saved, uncertainty can still haunt us.

An important first step for resolving the difficulty in my own experience came while I was a seminary student at Andrews University. I decided I must settle in my own mind the matter of the mediator: Why did I need one if God loved me? The answer came from John 14-17 where I discovered that the purpose of the mediator was to introduce us to a friendly God, not to protect us from a reluctant one. As Jesus put it: “If you have seen me you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). But perhaps even more significant in the Adventist context is John 16:26-27, where I found a fresh possibility for interpreting Ellen White’s statement that “we must stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator” (GC, 425): “In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father himself loves you.” In the context of Ellen White’s original statement I still detect a trace of fear, but on the basis of John’s Gospel I would say that fear is unnecessary. As long as we are afraid, the mediator is there, for God knows the powerful impact of sin and guilt. But the goal of Christian experience is to live once again in God’s presence without fear. That is a promise, not a threat.

The next step in my search for a solution to the experiential difficulties connected with the investigative judgment came in the spring of 1980. After preparing a study document on the development of Ellen White’s theology, I commented to a colleague: “The only missing piece in the Golgotha picture is eschatology. That is one place where fear still lurks. Wouldn’t it be interesting if we could see how Ellen White would re-write Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing again if she had the chance?”

Of the five books in the Conflict series, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing was the only one that was not written or totally re-written after 1888. The standard edition today (1911) differs only slightly from the 1888 edition, i.e., some historical quotations were changed and references were added. (See Arthur White, Ellen G. White, Messenger to the Remnant, Washington, D.C.: Ellen G. White Estate, 1954, p. 58.) I suspected how Ellen White would have told the story, but was concerned how far we could go without prophetic authority.

And then I found it – with the aid of a student who wrongly quoted a passage fromProphets and Kings. In checking his quotation I suddenly realized that here was an entire chapter dealing with the investigative judgment: “Joshua and the Angel” (pp. 582-592). With great eagerness I read it through, looking for traces of the reluctant God. I found none. The whole chapter is the story of the investigative judgment written from the perspective of a loving God who wants to save sinners. Further research revealed some fascinating background.

The seed that was to bear such rich fruit was apparently sown in 1880. As told in Life Sketches, Ellen White inquired in vision, “Where is the security for the people of God in these days of peril?” In response, God referred her to Zechariah 3:1-2 and declared that Jesus was our security against Satan. “Jesus will lead all who are willing to be led” (Life Sketches, 324) Prior to this vision Ellen White apparently had not realized the significance of Zechariah 3:1-2 for Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing story. [The printed Index to the Writings of Ellen G. White lists no occurrences of the text before 1880.] But now God had sown the seed; it would be only a matter of time until it would germinate and bear fruit.

The Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing of E. G. White lists four passages where Ellen White comments significantly on Zechariah 3:1,2; Testimonies, vol. 5, 467-476 (1885), Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 116, 117 (1896), Christ’s Object Lessons, 166-170 (1900), and Prophets and Kings, 582-592 (1917). All four of the contexts discuss the text in the setting of the “Great Controversy.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing (p. 117) states that Satan accuses us, not in some obscure courtroom, but “before the universe.” Christ’s Object Lessons (p.168) indicates that, not only is Satan accusing the believers, but God himself. Furthermore, when Christ speaks for his people, he confesses them, not before a reluctant Father, but “before the universe” (Christ’s Object Lessons, 170). Clearly the Father and the Son are united in their love for man and in their desire to rebuke the adversary.

But what I find most fascinating about Ellen White’s use of Zechariah 3:1-2 is the way she takes the article in the Testimonies and further refines it 30 years later for use inProphets and Kings. In effect, she softens those aspects that could discourage and expands on those that encourage. The result is a masterful integration of the investigative judgment into the picture of a loving God. And it happens in her very last book.

When compared with the Testimonies article, the account in Prophets and Kingsreveals one addition and one deletion that are particularly significant. The addition is found in Prophets and Kings (p. 589) as part of the Lord’s rebuke of the adversary. After claiming His people as His own, the Lord declares: “They may have imperfections of character; they may have failed in their endeavors; but they have repented, and I have forgiven and accepted them.” What an encouragement! We may slip and fall, but if we have given our hearts to God, He will rebuke the adversary. No reluctance here to save those who are still suffering growing pains; their hearts are with God and He claims them as His.

The significant deletion is a more delicate matter, for it is terribly true – but if seen from the viewpoint of Mt. Sinai it could so easily be misunderstood. Prophets and Kingsomits two paragraphs from pages 471-72 of Testimonies, vol. 5. Both paragraphs admonish the Christian to strive to overcome every defect. That, of course, should be the goal of every Christian. But the one sentence that could cause problems runs as follows: “No sin can be tolerated in those who shall walk with Christ in white” (p. 472). If that statement is seen as describing the Christian’s deep desire to obey Christ, then all is well. But if it is linked with a view of God which sees Him looking for excuses to catch sinners, then the Christian who slips and falls will flee in terror. So even though the statement is certainly true, no doubt Ellen White’s heightened concern for struggling sinners led her to delete it when she was preparing the material forProphets and Kings.

Once we recognize that God has justified us in Christ, then we can joyfully go into judgment prepared to witness for God and His law. That joy, I have found, is the strongest motivation possible for obedience, for now I want to obey because He has saved me. It is no longer a matter of earning salvation or of simply avoiding punishment. Obedience is the fruit of salvation.

Now whenever I find someone struggling with the investigative judgment, I recommend without hesitation the chapter on “Joshua and the Angel” in Prophets and Kings. The “Great Controversy” story has come a long way since it was first published in 1858, but what a testimony it is to God’s care for His people. He was preparing the way for His people, not only to find acceptance in Him, but also to demonstrate the goodness of God and His law to a skeptical world. God would have liked to have given the full message right at the beginning, but the beams of truth had to come gradually or His people would have turned away from light.

Because of man’s fallen condition God has been willing to use both commands and invitations, fear and love; but there is no question as to which He prefers. He has shown us His love “that we may have confidence in the day of judgment” (I John 4:17). “Perfect love casts out fear” (verse 18). In the sunshine of that love, even the investigative judgment is good news, for we stand no longer accused, but acquitted in Christ Jesus. Before the universe we are witnesses to the goodness of God.

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