Clifford R. Goldstein is the Editor of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide and a prolific author.

I'll never forget the thrill of emerging from the darkness of agnosticism, skepticism─even spiritualism─into the light of the Three Angels' messages. The Lord lifted me from sin, from death, from the alienation and emptiness that suffuses a life estranged from God─and elevated me not only into a knowledge of Jesus, but into Adventism, into present truth, into the most important movement since the Protestant Reformation.

Yet all was not well in Zion. I joined Adventism amidst rumblings, rumors, and rebellion though, in my newborn innocence, most of it passed me by. Oblivious, I was a smiling baby unaware of the bitter lessons of life. I had been an Adventist three months when a friend told me about a SDA professor out West who denied the 1844 investigative judgment.

"Who cares?" I replied.

I had seen the charts, had read about 1844, and believed it because Ellen White believed it, and I believed in what she believed. But who cared? All I ever talked about my first six months as an Adventist was the mark of the beast, anyway. I gave dozens of studies on the mark of the beast. I told everyone about the mark of the beast. I even wrote graffiti on bathroom walls about the mark of the beast. 1844? It seemed irrelevant. 

In early 1981, I arrived in my first Adventist community. Here, the rumors about 1844 and the sanctuary controversy did more than rumble─they roared! It was the conversation at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and between meals. Though I didn't understand what the hoopla was about, I knew one thing: Nothing would shake me.

But then people confronted me with questions: How do you get an 1844 investigative judgment out of Daniel 8:14? How do you know that the day-year principle is valid? And, if valid, why apply it to the 2300 days? How do you tie Daniel 8 and 9 together? Why is there no verbal link between the word for cleansed (which only the KJV uses) in Daniel 8, with the word for cleansed in Leviticus 16, which has a different Hebrew root? How do you know that the 2300 evenings and mornings of Daniel 8 aren't 1150 days, not 2300 days, as at least one translation has it? Can't you see how the book of Hebrews puts Christ in the second apartment long before 1844? Is not Antiochus Epiphanes the little horn of Daniel 8? And by the way, did you know how much Ellen White really copied?

I had no answers, and those whom I expected to have them─didn't either! People everywhere attacked the doctrine, or at least expressed skepticism about it. I felt like the doctor in The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a TV movie I had seen as a child. Aliens descended upon a town and took over the people's minds. Though the people looked and talked the same, they had become aliens. The doctor's family, friends, almost the whole town, had been taken over. Everywhere the doctor turned, one after another, the people were "converted." He didn't know whom to trust, where to turn. He was the only one who escaped.

But I didn't escape! I became one of them. I no longer believed in the 1844 investigative judgment. I just couldn't get it out of the Bible, and the implications of that conclusion staggered me! I never realized, until then, just how much of our message is linked to 1844. Instantly, my faith in the Adventist message crumbled.

The first thing that absolutely had to go was Ellen White. If 1844 is not biblical, Ellen White belonged in the same class as Mary Baker Eddy and Joseph Smith.

I questioned the idea of Adventism as the remnant church. If 1844 wasn't biblical, the church wasn't either.

I began to wonder about just how important the law, particularly the Sabbath, really was.

I started to question─even the mark of the beast!

Was my whole experience with God a fluke too?

I poured out my soul in prayer, pleading for truth. If this message was not true, I wanted out. I hadn't been an Adventist that long, the church didn't mean that much to me then, plus I never really liked being a vegetarian either. My aggressive search for truth led me to Adventism, but if the search was to lead me somewhere else─I was ready.

I went back to where the problem started this 1844 thing. If I couldn't get it out of the Bible─without any Ellen White (at that point she had become about as authoritative to me as was the Tibetan Book of the Dead)—I would pack my bags and go back to Israel, where I was living when I first became a believer in Jesus. Simple logic told me that if 1844 is not biblical, Adventism was a cult.

So I prayed, I studied, I buried myself in my Bible. I sought for an understanding of truth, because I knew the direction of my whole life, possibly even my eternal life, was at stake. And I used no Ellen White.

A few weeks later, I finished. My conclusion: If you were to use the Old Testament without the New—you would have as much evidence for an 1844 investigative judgment as you would for Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah!

Before, when I had read Daniel 8, I couldn't imagine how anyone could see the judgment; but now, after my study, when I looked at Daniel 8, I couldn't imagine how anyone could not see the judgment!

I had suddenly been born again againl The doubt, the uncertainty, the heaviness lifted. I felt as if I had been cured from a disease. I was more convicted of Adventism than I had been when I first came to the Adventist community, and only now did I realize just how weak my grounding had been.

Instantly, all the doubt about Ellen White vanished. I thought, "Surely, that old woman knew exactly what she was talking about!" Since that time, I have never questioned Ellen White as a prophet; instead, my confidence in the 1844 truth has allowed me to see her as one of the greatest prophets of them all!

My understanding of 1844 gave me a new experience with Jesus, with Adventism, and with the spirit of prophecy. Once I saw just how biblical 1844 was, I knew that this church was everything it claimed to be, and all the doubts about the law, the Sabbath, everything were obliterated.

Despite apostasies, despite our Laodicean malaise, despite scandals, despite anything and everything that happens within the church itself, the 1844 teaching proves beyond question that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is the remnant church of Bible prophecy and our message is present truth. The 1844 judgment─more than the state of the dead, the Sabbath, the second coming─establishes the validity of Adventism. All those other doctrines are accepted by some other people, but Adventists are the only people who have the 1844 investigative judgment truth. Until you see the truth of 1844, realizing that Adventists are the only ones who teach it, you will never fully understand our calling, our purpose, or our mission.

I had been forced to learn the message or leave it. For me, there was no middle ground. And how thankful I am that the same God who took me from not even believing in God, to believing in God; who took me from all the world religions, to Christianity; and from all the denominations within Christianity, to Adventism─how thankful I am that He saved me from that apostasy.


Clifford Goldstein is the editor of Liberty Magazine, a journal published by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. He has conducted seminars all over the world for leaders of the Church. His most recent book published is entitled The Remnant.