The Adventist Gospel has been branded as the Three Angels Messages (or Everlasting Gospel) using language from Revelation 14:6-12. They believe the fullness of the Gospel fell away and God raised their movement up to restore it. While the biblical text says very little that is explicit, the Adventist Church, by way of Ellen G. White, believe they have inspired insight to the true meaning of any biblical text. The First Angels Message is claimed to be derived from Revelation 14:6-7. To truly understand it, you have to know a little backstory about the roots of Adventism and Millerism.
The claim is that the First Angel’s Message was proclaimed in 1843 and 44 through those who were heralding the false date setting for the return of Christ that William Miller was teaching and that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. His followers were called the Millerites.
After Christ failed to return as predicted on October 22, 1844, William Miller admitted he was wrong and most of his followers returned to their former churches. But some of them refused to accept the error and instead sought to find meaning in the failure. Part of this included the belief that God was testing them in the failed prophecy to see if they would remain loyal. This is what the Seventh-Day Adventist Church was born out of.
Initially, they thought the “judgment” of Revelation 14:6 was in reference to the judgment of God upon the wicked at the return of Christ. Then they did a complete 180 and said it was about a judgment exclusively for the righteous. The SDA Church had to accommodate for this so they changed the meaning of the First Angel’s Message to something entirely different.
Ellen White—the Adventist Church’s prophetess who they believe corrects inaccurate interpretations of scripture—explains that the “hour of His judgment has come” in Revelation 14:6 is in reference to the Investigative Judgment, not the judgment of the wicked. This new theory was born out of a supposed vision given to a man named Hiram Edson who claimed to be shown that they weren’t wrong about the date, but the event and the location. Jesus wasn’t returning to the earth in 1844, He actually moved from the Holy Place of the Heavenly Sanctuary to the Most Holy Place for the first time to begin the next phase of Heavenly atonement.
Ellen White went so far as to say that those who rejected their “midnight cry” of the First Angels Message were rejected by God.
None of this is found in Revelation 14:6-12. Nothing about an investigation into professed believers in a courtroom like manner to see who is and isn’t worthy of Christ’s atoning benefits. The early Millerites understood the judgment in this chapter to be referring to the wicked. It was only after the 1844 disappointment that this pivoted to being exclusively about professed believers. The judgment of God upon the wicked is the focal point of Revelation 14. It has nothing to do with 1844.
Since the wrath of God was not poured out in 1844, how could they continue to claim the First Angel’s Message had been fulfilled prophetically when the judgment upon the wicked didn’t happen? To skirt around this glaring problem, they formulated a theory that the judgment referred to an investigative judgment that took place in Heaven and not the earth. And that this judgment, rather than being an execution of justice upon the wicked, entails a courtroom procedure where God is investigating the fate of every soul that makes a profession of faith. They adopted this idea because it allowed them to have a “judgment” beginning in 1844 while simultaneously allowing them to continue claiming the first two angels messages had already sounded.
The Gospel is the good news about salvation through the Person and work of Jesus, nothing to do with believing an investigation began in 1844. The investigative judgement is an addition to what Jesus Christ revealed to the apostles as the only true Gospel (Galatians 1:6-9, Romans 1:16-17)—making the Adventist message a false gospel (2 Corinthians 11:1-4).
To see a more detailed breakdown of this, watch our series on the topic.