Snap Returns and Snap Judgments?
The Secret Rapture?
Will the Judgment Occur in the Instant Before Christ Returns?
The truth of the investigative judgment of the living as explained in The Silencing of
Satan: The Gospel of the Investigative Judgment, is helpful in exposing two erroneous
ideas. First, there is a false view of the Second Advent. Many have the idea that God will
suddenly and mysteriously spirit away His children just before the Great Tribulation. In
the time it takes to snap fingers they disappear and their empty clothes fall limp to the
floor. Cars and airplanes crash as those at the controls suddenly vanish.
The investigative judgment of the living shows us this is not going to happen. Christians
cannot be snapped up and raptured secretly away to heaven before the great time of
trouble; for, Jesus is not going to dispense with the requirements of His plan of
salvation for the saints of the last church era. He said in Revelation 2, “all the churches
shall know that I am he which investigates minds and hearts” (Rev 2:23). All believers
are examined and judged—not just those who die before the second coming. The
investigative judgment tribulation of the living must come before they are transported to
heaven with the resurrected saints who have already been judged.
The second error exposed is that of snap judgments just prior to the very end. Some
have maintained that the investigative judgment is accomplished in an instant just
before Jesus arrives to take believers to heaven. Thus, such persons retain the idea of
judgment, even some sort of investigative judgment, yet deny that this judgment is a
time-consuming process. Hence it cannot have been going on since 1844. But this
understanding of divine judgment falls short. A more complete understanding of the
biblical doctrine of salvation and judgment, as set forth in this book, shows that God’s
judgment is a process involving the choices and actions of tempted and tried human
subjects over time, and not simply a unilateral snap decision on the part of God.
The suggestion of a momentary judgment betrays a lack of understanding of the place
of judgment in the everlasting Gospel as it is explained in Chapters 3-5, and 7, of this
book. God takes time to dispute with Satan over the accusations he brings against
believers. That does not fit at all with the idea that His judgment of every believer is
accomplished in a moment.
There is a further problem with the concept of a momentary judgment. In the case of the
saints, trials, believer-testing, and examination, produce, or accompany purification. This
is relevant to the question of whether the investigative judgment happens in an instant
just before the Second Coming. Note how Zechariah connects trial and investigation
And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver
is refined and will try [search or investigate] them as gold is tried [searched
or investigated for impurities]: they shall call on my name, and I will hear
them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God.
In Malachi we have a different connection made with purification—but his contribution is
Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me:
and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the
messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith
the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall
stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’
soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify
the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto
the Lord an offering in righteousness. (Mal 3:1-2)
We are reminded here, that when the Lord comes near He, among other things, desires
to have a purifying influence upon His people (cf., Ex 19:10-11; 30:19-21; 33:5). Will this
be true at the time of the Second Coming? Daniel answers in the affirmative, for he sees
testing and purification through the Christian era, to the time of the end, and in the
tribulation prior to the Second Coming:
And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and
to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time
appointed. (Dan 11:35)
And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for
the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never
was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy
people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to
everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt … . And he
said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time
of the end. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked
shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall
understand. (Dan 12:1-2, 9-10)
The test-investigate-purify experience is something common to believers throughout the
ages. It recurs again and again throughout history, sometimes with more intensity (e.g.,
Job), sometimes for long periods (“those days” of the Dark Ages, Matt 24:22),
sometimes with groups (e.g., Malachi’s generation of returned Israelites), sometimes
with individuals (e.g., the Psalmist in Ps 7), sometimes with a group and with intensity
(the final generation). That is how it always has been. And, yes, that is how it will be in
the final hours leading up to the Second Coming—the time of the investigative judgment
of the living. Believers will, according to Daniel, grow in grace as a result of tribulation.
They will seek to be nearer to God, to be more wholly His.
But, the refinement (purification, sanctification) of believers implies the passing of a
period of time. Therefore, the investigative judgment could not be started and finished in
an instant just before the Second Coming when it is so closely linked with the process
entailed in human progress.