QUESTION 51: How would you explain the Great White Throne Judgment and the Judgment Seat of Christ from the preterist perspective? When do these judgments take place?
ANSWER: The terms "Great White Throne" (Rev. 20:11) and "Judgment Seat of Christ" (II Cor. 5:10) refer to God's Judgment of all men, which took place in 70.
Here are Scriptures that show that the Apostolic church was living in the final days of crisis before the Resurrection of the dead and the Judgment:
"...'There is about to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.' ...And as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment which is about to come...." (Acts. 24:15, 25; Jn. 5:28-29)
"...He has fixed a Day in which He is about to judge the world..." (Acts 17:31)
"...Christ Jesus, Who is about to judge the living and the dead." (II Tim. 4:1)
"...The Judge is standing right at the door." (Jms. 5:9)
"...They shall give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead." (I Peter 4:5)
"...but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which is about to consume the enemies. (Lk. 19:27)
Revelation 11:1-18 reveals that God judged the living and the dead, the just and the unjust, at the fall of Jerusalem. After Jerusalem was trodden under foot for 3 1/2 years, (Rev. 11:2) a tenth of the City fell in an earthquake (Rev. 11:13) and seven thousand men were killed. (Rev. 11:13) Then "quickly" afterward, (Rev. 11:14) "the kingdom of this world" became the eternal Kingdom of the Father and the Son. (Rev. 11:15)
"The kingdom of this world" was the kingdom of the Pharisees and chief priests. (Amos 9:8; Matt. 8:12; Heb. 9:1) The Church became the eternal Kingdom of the Father and the Son (Compare Jn. 14:23; Rev. 22:3) when the unredeemed sons of the kingdom were cast out in 70 (Matt. 8:12):
"Therefore I say to you [chief priests, Pharisees and elders], the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it." (Matt. 21:43)
"Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom." (Lk. 12:32)
"But the saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come." (Dan. 7:18)
"...until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom. (Dan. 7:22)
Revelation 11:18 reveals what happened when the Kingdom was taken from the Pharisees and given to the Church:
"And the nations were wrathful, and Your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and to give the reward to Your bond-servants the prophets and to the saints and to those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth."
The Pharisees, chief priests and the elders saw their Judge seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of Heaven, in God's calling out and empowering of His Church throughout the Last Days. (Matt. 26:64; I Cor. 14:21-22) By 70, all the tribes of the Land understood as well, (Matt. 24:30; Rev. 1:7) when they fell by the sword and were led captive into all the nations, (Lk. 21:24) and when the Temple and the Holy City were reduced to rubble. (Lk. 19:44; 21:5,6)
In that Great Day, the dead were raised, both the just and the unjust, and were judged according to their works. (Dan. 12:1-2) The sons of the flesh were cast out, but the Church was perfected, confirmed, and established, and was given eternal dominion over the earth as God's Kingdom of priests. (Dan. 12:3; I Peter 5:10-11; Rev. 5:10; 22:5)
"Then the sovereignty, the dominion, and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His Kingdom will be an everlasting Kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him." (Dan. 7:27)
QUESTION 52: How do we reconcile Romans with James? Are we "justified by faith apart from works?" (Rom. 3:28; 4:6) Or are we "justified by works, and not by faith alone?" (Jms. 2:24) This seems somewhat confusing and contradictory to me. Any help here would be much appreciated.
ANSWER: "Justification" in Romans 4 refers to the forgiveness of sins through faith in the redemptive work of Jesus. (Rom. 3:21-30)
"Justification" in James 2 refers to the vindication of a believer. (cf. Matt. 11:19; Lk. 7:35) A believer is justified or vindicated by works insofar as his works demonstrate / prove his (already-justifying) faith (Jms. 2:18; Gen. 22:12) and perfect / bring to maturity his (already-justifying) faith (Jms. 2:22) and fulfill God's word that He had reckoned the believer's faith to him as righteousness. (Jms. 2:23)
Romans 4: God demonstrated beforehand that justification (i.e., salvation / redemption) would be granted through faith (belief), when He justified our father Abraham by faith "apart from works." (Rom. 4:6) Abraham had not yet met any conditions of obedience when God justified him through faith. (Rom. 4:10-11)
Every attempt at salvation / redemption through our obedience to God invariably brings down the wrath of God upon our souls. (Rom. 3:14-15) Therefore, salvation from sin (i.e., justification) can only be received by God's unconditional, unmerited favor, through faith (belief) in the risen Savior. (Rom. 4:16-25)
James 2: James speaks of daily Christian living, and not of justification at conversion. Can a genuine believer live a workless life? (Jms. 2:14,17,20) Can a genuine believer willfully neglect his brother or sister who lives in daily need of clothing and food? (Jms. 2:15-16) Absolutely not. Even demons have that kind of dead faith. (Jms. 2:19)
We were all justified by faith "apart from works," but our faith must not, and indeed cannot, remain "alone." (Jms. 2:17,24) If it does, we were never justified by faith (saved) in the first place, and the love of God does not dwell in us. (I Jn. 3:17)
A man is justified (saved / redeemed / forgiven / made a participant in the Divine nature) by his faith in God's Son. That same man is then justified (vindicated / proven just / brought to maturity) by his God-ordained, God-empowered endurance and works. (Rom. 4:18-24; I Cor. 15:10; Eph. 2:10; Phil. 2:13; Jms. 2:24)
As the Reformers said, we are justified (saved) by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone.
QUESTION 53: Why is preterism so popular among the "Reformed?"
ANSWER: I can think of seven reasons why preterism is popular among Reformed believers:
1. Reformed believers love the Reformation doctrine of Sola Scriptura: "By Scripture only." They strive to believe what the Bible says and to reject every tradition that contradicts it. They change their beliefs, if they are convinced they are in disagreement with Scripture.
Regrettably, some Reformed leaders presuppose that preterism must be a misinterpretation of Scripture, because they believe that the future-ness and biological-ness of the Second Coming and the Resurrection of the dead are cardinal, nonnegotiable elements of the Biblical Faith. Ironically, their blind faith in the eschatological interpretations of the Church Fathers is "Roman Catholic" to the core. The sad result is that they are attempting to resolve this substantive theological issue by reference to historical traditions, without searching the Scriptures. (The Reformers would be rolling over in their graves ...if they weren't already resurrected, that is.)
2. Preterism is systematic. Reformed believers love to see the system of "the whole counsel of God" in the Scriptures. (e.g., the five points of Calvinism) Along these lines, preterism often attracts scholarly, intellectual Christians, and the Reformed camp is known for its doctors and great thinkers.
3. Preterism is a non-sensational, spiritualizing eschatology, much like the amillennialism of many reformed churches. It is also a "long term world view" eschatology, much like the postmillennial, partial preterist and theonomic doctrines of so many other Reformed churches. (Calvin himself was a partial preterist theonomist.) In principle --that is, from a general hermeneutical and "worldview" standpoint-- preterism is not very different from many Reformed doctrines.
4. Preterism magnifies God's sovereignty in history in that it perfectly and wonderfully demonstrates the power of God in working out the "fulfillment of all things written." Reformed believers love the doctrine of God's sovereignty.
5. Preterism is almost wholly concerned with "covenant." It is Christ-centered and not "events"-centered (as with many forms of futurism), and it is "Body of Christ"-centered and not individual-centered. These things all harmonize well with the Covenant Theology of most Reformed believers.
6. Reformed believers are used to being God's "spoilers," so to speak. Neither Calvinism nor preterism make popular, mainstream Christians in general "feel good." Calvinism robs us of our "free will," and its doctrine of "limited atonement" makes God unjust and cruel (in the eyes of many Christians). Similarly, preterism robs us of our Rapture out of this world, and it robs us of our biological resurrection-bodies on an absolutely perfect planet Earth.
Reformed believers are accustomed to believing what many other Christians deem to be "unbelievable." This makes the "horse pill" of preterism easier for Reformed believers to swallow, than for many other Christians.
7. Preterism is Reformed Theology realized and confirmed in history:
God brought an entire covenant-world to a cataclysmic end because it is absolutely impossible for man to become justified through an act of faithful obedience to God. (Total Depravity) If there had been any conceivable way that man could have found life through a faithful act of obedience to God, then there would not have been any need for the Cross of Christ, or for the fiery destruction of the world of human "righteousness," or for the establishment of the eternal New Covenant of God's Righteousness.
God created a spiritual nation from within the nation that embodied man's "righteousness." This was accomplished sovereignly by God's Spirit, despite the sinfulness, ignorance and weakness of every man who was chosen. (Unconditional Election, Irresistible Grace) God had mercy on the spiritual nation that He created, but He sovereignly hardened the fleshly nation. (Limited Atonement) God's New Covenant nation --the Church-- is permanent and eternal. Therefore, so are her children. (Perseverance of the saints)
QUESTION 54: Doesn't the existence of sin and of God's enemies on Earth show that we are in a worse state today than before the Fall?
ANSWER: Before "the Fall," there was the Enemy, and people who did not have eternal life, and who were vulnerable to Death under a covenant of works.
Now because of the Cross and the Parousia of Christ, the Accuser is dead. We have been redeemed and forgiven, and have unbreakable fellowship with God. We are invulnerable to Death. (Rev. 2:11) Unlike Adam and Eve in the Garden, we have been "blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ" (Eph. 1:3). Our "state" is far better than was the state of man before the Fall.
The existence of God's enemies outside of the Church in Rev. 22:15 does not make the perfection of Rev. 21-22 "a worse state" than that which existed in Gen. 1-2. Even the "dogs" are put on Earth according to God's purpose, (I Peter 2:8) for His glory, and for the eternal good of His Church:
"The Lord has made everything for its own purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil." (Prov. 16:4)
"What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles." (Rom. 9:22-24)
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Rom. 8:28)
QUESTION 55: I believe that Jesus is God, the Son, the Messiah. I believe we are saved by grace through faith in the blood of Jesus, and not through any works. However, I sometimes find myself doubting my own salvation. How can I know if I'm one of the elect and really saved?
ANSWER: Love God and keep His commandments, and love your brothers in work and in truth:
"And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments." (I Jn. 2:3)
"...By this we know that we are in Him: The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked." (I Jn. 2:5-6)
"...We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren." (I Jn. 3:14)
"...Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We shall know by this that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before Him." (I Jn. 3:18-19)
"...And the one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And we know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us." (I Jn. 3:24)
"...If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit." (I Jn. 4:12-13)
"...By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments." (I Jn. 5:2)
QUESTION 56: A preterist recently wrote that futurism is an error that "cuts at the heart of the Gospel." Do you agree with that statement? If so, why do you still consider futurists to be Christian brothers?
ANSWER: Yes, I do agree with the statement that futurism cuts at the heart of the Gospel, because futurism has implications that, if followed through consistently, would overthrow the Gospel itself:
Futurism means that "the way of the Holy Places" has not been revealed. (Heb. 9:8) In other words, it means that Christ our High Priest has not appeared "a second time" to His anxiously awaiting people, (Heb. 9:28) after presenting His Sacrifice to the Father in "the Holy Places." (Lev. 16) It means that atonement for our sins is not complete today.
Christ was "about to" (Heb. 9:11) appear "in a very little while," without "delay," (Heb. 10:37) at the disappearing of the old covenant, (Heb. 8:13) when the worldly tabernacle fell. (Heb. 9:8) If His Appearing out of the heavenly Holy Places did not take place at that appointed time, then it irresistibly follows that Jesus' Word failed, and our High Priest's Sacrifice was rejected by the Father, and we are still dead in our sins.
These implications of futurism are damnable heresies that would have been received with great delight by the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus' day. And they have been thrown in the face of the Church by atheists and liberals of our own day.
So why do I (and all other Reformed preterists) still consider futurists to be our brothers in Christ even though the implications of their belief ultimately serve to destroy the Christian Faith? Because futurists are not thoroughgoing in their futurism. They believe that Christ's atonement for our sins was completed. They do not believe in or confess the heretical implications of futurism. They confess (inconsistently but truly) all of the cardinal elements of the Faith.
The fault of the futurists is ignorance, misunderstanding and inconsistency, not blasphemy. Nevertheless, futurism is a serious error, not only because of what it necessarily implies, but because of what it inevitably creates: "consistent futurists," i.e., liberals and atheists. It gives occasion to these enemies of the Lord to blaspheme.
Without a doubt, it is high time to awake from the destructive slumber of futurism. God is always reforming His Church. May He reform us in our eschatology, so that we will defeat the liberals within, refute the atheists without, and build up His Kingdom in its most holy Faith. If the Lord is willing, these things will be done when we humble ourselves in His sight and let His Word say what it says.
QUESTION 57: What do you think about Matt. 27:52-53? It says that "many bodies of the saints" were raised, and they came out of their graves after the resurrection of Jesus. Were they raised with glorified bodies?
ANSWER: "...Coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy City and were manifested [or "disclosed"] to many." (Matt. 27:53) (Greek: emphanizo. See Jn. 14:21,22; Acts 23:15,22; 24:1; 25:2,15; Heb. 9:24; 11:14.)
Compare this with Acts 10:40:
"God raised Him up on the third day, and granted that He should become visible, ["manifest" / "disclosed"] not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God...." (Acts 10:40) (Greek: emphanees. See Rom. 10:20.)
It is possible that as Christ was manifested only to certain witnesses before He was taken up, these resurrected saints were also manifested only to select witnesses and were then taken from the earth.
Whether or not though these saints had "glorified bodies" is something that I think cannot be determined from the text. Assuming that they did miraculously appear before witnesses, and that they then miraculously disappeared, these things would not necessarily mean that these saints had "glorified bodies." Philip was "snatched away," and he "found himself" in another location about thirty miles away, in Acts 8:39-40. He miraculously disappeared and miraculously appeared, but he did not have a "glorified body."
I think that all we can ascertain from Matt. 27:52-53 as to the nature of these resurrected saints' bodies is that 1.) they had fallen asleep, 2.) they were raised, 3.) they came out of the tombs, 4.) they entered into Jerusalem and 5.) they were manifested or disclosed to many. Beyond these facts, we can do little more than speculate. Some have said that they left Earth with Jesus sometime between Jn. 20:17 and Jn. 20:27. Perhaps that is true, but it is only speculation.
(Incidentally, if these resurrected saints were miraculously manifested only to chosen people and were then miraculously "snatched away," that could help explain why this event was not mentioned in Josephus' histories.)
It is possible that these resurrected saints had been previously martyred. If that was the case, then their entrance into the holy City might have served as a terrifying sign to the murderous leadership there (Lk. 13:33) --a sign not only of the divine power of the resurrection of Jesus, but also that God was about to raise up a supernatural, avenging army against the Great City.
When we interpret Matt. 27:52-53, we should keep in mind that it is a "stand alone" passage, with no parallel or explanatory reference, and that it contains very few details. These facts should cause us to be very careful when we draw our conclusions. We should also be careful not to attach too much eschatological significance to this lone passage. By this I mean that we should not attempt to turn it into "the first resurrection" of Rev. 20:5-6, or the "first fruits" of Rev. 14:4, or the resurrection of "many" in Dan. 12:2, or into Christ's leading "captive a host of captives" (NASB) in Eph. 4:8, as some interpreters do.
(For a fanciful elaboration on Matt. 27:52-53, see The Gospel of Nicodemus, Greek form, Chapter 17ff. c. A.D. 400)
QUESTION 58: The Bible clearly says that if we are under ANY part of the Law, then we are under ALL of the Law in its entirety, and are thus in bondage. As a preterist, you know that the old covenant (the Law) VANISHED in 70. Yet in your Q&A's #2, 14, 18, and 23, you actually say that we are still under SOME of the laws of Moses (i.e., the so-called "non-shadow / non-fleshly" laws). According to the Bible, by making PARTS of the old covenant binding today, you are putting Christians back under ALL of the Law. It's all or nothing. How do you answer?
ANSWER: The Scriptures do not say that if we keep one old-covenant law then we are in "bondage" to the whole Law since we are unable to obey every commandment without falling short.
James 2:10 does say this: "Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, ...has become guilty of all." However, James' point was not that believers must abstain from all the laws in the Old Testament.
According to the context, James' point was this: The fact that we keep the old-covenant precept to believe in the one true God (Deut. 6:4; Jms. 2:9) does not mean that we have a license to ignore the rest of God's laws. In other words, just because we obey the old-covenant law forbidding adultery, that does not mean we are free to disobey the old-covenant law forbidding murder. (Jms. 2:11)
Christians are called to obey all of God's laws. Even though we all "stumble in many ways," (as James says eighteen verses later in 3:2) our failures do not put us in bondage to the Law, because we have been redeemed from "the curse of the Law." (Gal. 3:13) We have been given God's Spirit and have been set free to walk in God's laws without fear of condemnation. This is the glorious liberty of the Christian.
The only way someone can put himself "in bondage" to the Law is to perform an act of obedience in order to appease God's eternal wrath against sin. This constitutes a rejection of Christ's sacrifice for sins, and is in effect, a call for the reinstitution of the sacrificial system of Moses ("the Law"). This is how people put themselves under the curse of the Law. When unredeemed men look to the Law (good deeds) for salvation, that is when failure to keep one law results in bondage to all the laws:
"For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.' Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, 'The righteous man shall live by faith.'" (Gal. 3:10-11)
"And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace." (Gal. 5:3-4)
Under the old covenant, God's laws were the condition (Ex. 19:5) and the condemnation that stood between God and men. In this way, God's servants were "under the law." In the New Covenant, in contrast, God has sovereignly engraved His laws on our hearts by His Spirit Who indwells us. For God has forgiven us of all our transgressions through His Own blood, so that we now love Him with an incorruptible love, and keep His commandments. (Heb. 8:10-12) Thus, by God's surpassing grace in us, we establish the Law. (Rom. 3:31)
The Mosaic system of condemnation vanished when the "shadow" of the Law (i.e., foods, drinks, baptisms, festivals, new moons, Sabbaths, the priesthood, gifts, sacrifices, offerings, fleshly ordinances, etc., etc.) passed away in 70. (Col. 2:16-17; Heb. 8:5,13; 9:10; 10:1) Yet at the same time, the "more acceptable" and "better" laws (I Sam. 15:22; Prov. 21:3) that were contained in and foreshadowed in that earthly system (e.g., to love God, to love your neighbor, to do justly, to love mercy, to have the knowledge of God, to walk humbly with Him, etc.) were fulfilled and established. (Prov. 21:3; Hosea 6:6; Micah 6:6-8; Matt. 5:17; Mk. 12:33; Rom. 3:31) Such "non-shadow," "non-fleshly" laws are God's great "delight." (I Sam. 15:22) Such laws were not "reinstituted" in the New Covenant, for they were never de-instituted. They are the truth of God. From eternity to eternity, God's laws stand.
"...All His precepts are sure. They are upheld forever and ever...." (Ps. 111:7-8)
"I will keep Your Law continually, forever and ever." (Ps. 119:44)
"Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, And Your Law is truth." (Ps. 119:142)
"The sum of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting." (Ps. 119:160)
"...[Moses] received living words...." (Acts 7:38)
"...The Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good." (Rom. 7:12)
"...The Law is spiritual...." (Rom. 7:14)
QUESTION 59: Are Isa. 66:8 and Matt. 21:43 prophetic references to the events that happened on the day of Pentecost? Are there any more references to the Church being the "nation" of God?
"Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once? As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons." (Isa. 66:8)
This prophecy is parallel to Isa. 54:1:
"'Shout for joy, O barren one, you who have borne no child. Break forth into joyful shouting and cry aloud, you who have not travailed; For the sons of the desolate one are more numerous than the sons of the married woman,' says the Lord." (Isa. 54:1)
According to Gal. 4:27, Isa. 54:1 (and by implication Isa. 66:8) is fulfilled in the Church. The Church was born "in one day," "all at once," as soon as she travailed. (cf. Rev. 12:1-2) Before the pangs of birth had come, (A.D. 60's) (Matt. 24:8; Mk. 13:8) the Church had already become "more numerous" than Israel according to the flesh. (Gal. 4:24-31)
The Church had been "not a nation" and "not a people," "without understanding" and in "darkness." But in the Last Days, (Acts 2:17) God raised up His elect from within the "sinful nation," (Isa. 1:4) and by His Spirit created His New Covenant nation (Rom. 10:19; Deut. 32:21):
"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." (I Peter 2:9-10)
In Hebrews 11:13-16,39-40, the Church is the better, heavenly "City" and "Country" (or "Fatherland)" which the saints of old welcomed "from a distance."
"All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a Country [Fatherland] of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that (country) from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better (country), that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a City for them. ....And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect." (Heb. 11:13-16; 39-40)
"Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it."
This Scripture was fulfilled when "the chief priests and the Pharisees" were brought "to a wretched end" and were scattered "like dust" in A.D. 70. (Matt. 21:40-45)
The Church is the "Land," the "Country," the "City," the "Nation," and the "Kingdom." It is "Zion," "the Israel of God." (Isa. 66:8; Matt. 21:43; Gal. 4:26-31; 6:16; Heb. 11:14-16; I Peter 2:9-10; Rev. 21:2-3)
QUESTION 60: What do you do with Job 19:26 where it speaks of a fleshly resurrection?
ANSWER: Here is a literal translation of Job 19:25-26:
"For [or "Yet"] I know that my Kinsman-Redeemer [or "Avenger" or "Vindicator"] is living, and at last He shall arise [or "stand"] on the dust [or "earth"]. Even after they surround [or "destroy"] my skin, yet this: From [or "without"] my flesh I shall see God...." (Job 19:25-26)
...and at last He shall arise [or "stand"] on the dust [or "earth"]...
In this statement, Job could have been prophesying of a time after his death when God would vindicate and deliver him. (Job 3:21-22; 6:8; 7:5-10,15-16,21; 14:14; 16:18; 17:1,13-16) Or Job could have been prophesying of a day within his lifetime when God would vindicate and deliver him. (Job 10:9; 13:15-21; 11:20-22; 23:10; 17:9; 23:10; 29:1-25; cf. Ps. 3:7) Either interpretation is possible.
...Even after they surround [or "destroy"] my skin....
Who were "they?" "They" could have been the "worms" and "dust" that were "covering" Job's skin while he was yet alive, (Job 7:5) or they could have been the "worms" and "dust" of the grave. (Job 17:14; 21:26; 24:20) Or "they" could have been God's "troops," i.e., Job's accusers and former friends who were "encompassing" him and who could not, metaphorically speaking, get enough of his "flesh." (Job 10:17; 16:13; 19:12-20,22; 30:1-15; 31:31; Ps. 14:4; 27:2) Any of these interpretations is possible.
...From [or "without"] my flesh I shall see God...
Here Job could have meant, "from the vantage point of my flesh," that it to say, "looking out from my flesh I shall see God." Or Job could have meant, "from outside of my flesh," that is, "free from my flesh I shall see God." Either interpretation is possible.
In light of the above possible interpretations, there are four basic possibilities as to the meaning of Job's prophecy:
1. Job expected to die from his afflictions, and to be delivered and vindicated at a non-fleshly resurrection at the Last Day.
2. Job expected to die from his afflictions, and to be delivered and vindicated in Sheol.
3. Job expected to be vindicated and delivered from all his afflictions, and to see God within his own lifetime, before he died, while still in his flesh.
4. Job expected to die from his afflictions, and to be delivered and vindicated in a "resurrection of the flesh" at the Last Day.
Due to the difficulties in translating this prophecy, expositors and translators have rendered Job's meaning in these four different lights. Which position one takes depends not simply on one's skill as a translator or on one's understanding of the overall meaning of the book of Job, but to an extent on one's personal eschatological presuppositions.
All preterists reject #4, which option incidentally enjoys the least amount of scholarly support, and is the only option that contradicts the preterist view. (This option is also quickly eliminated when we see that Job explicitly denies a resurrection of the flesh in Job 14:7-12.)
I think that the majority of modern scholarly opinion has gone with #2, although it seems to me that Job 10:21-22; 17:13-16 contradicts the idea that Job was expecting a deliverance / vindication in Sheol. Most preterists, if I'm not mistaken, choose option #1. Personally, I lean toward option #3. Here is how I would explain the prophecy in Job 19:25-29:
Job's Redeemer arose on the dust when He answered Job out of the whirlwind. (Job 38:1) After God's "archers" / "troops" (Job's accusers) surrounded and devoured Job, and after Job was filled up with the afflictions of his flesh, he was redeemed from his sufferings and was vindicated as "a perfect and upright man," and his enemies were judged. (Compare Job 19:29 and 42:7-9) Thus, Job from his flesh saw God:
"I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye has seen You." (Job 42:5)
QUESTION 61: How do you interpret Matt. 5:17-20?
ANSWER: Matt. 5:17-20:
"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven."
"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish...."
Jesus came to destroy the Temple, (Mal. 3:1-2; Matt. 24:2; Mk. 13:2; Lk. 21:6; Acts 6:14; II Cor. 5:1) but He did not come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. He did not come to refute and overthrow the commandments and prophecies contained in Genesis through Malachi. He did not come to topple and replace the precepts and the prophecies of God. He did not come to demolish or throw down "all Scripture." (II Tim. 3:16) (the Law and the Prophets) Rather, He came to fulfill "all things written." (Lk. 21:22) (the Law and the Prophets)
"...but to fulfill..."
Jesus fulfilled the Law through His perfect righteousness and obedience. He fulfilled the Law through the sacrifice of Himself for our transgressions of the Law. He fulfilled the Law through the imputation of His divine righteousness to us through faith in His blood. He fulfilled the Law through the pouring out of His Spirit, Who teaches us and enables us to love God because He laid down His life for us, (I Jn. 3:16) and to keep His commandments from our heart, and to love our brothers in work and in truth. (Matt. 7:12; Rom. 13:8; Gal. 5:14) This is the perfect, Law-fulfilling righteousness that comes through the heavenly birth, and that surpasses the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. (Matt. 5:20,48; 18:3; Jn. 3:3)
Jesus fulfilled "the Prophets" by His birth, ministry, death and resurrection, by the pouring out of His Spirit, by the proclamation of the Gospel to the Gentiles, by the building up of His Church (the New Covenant Tabernacle) and by "the days of vengeance" that culminated in the destruction of the temple. (Lk. 21:22; 24:44-47)
"...until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished."
According to the Scriptures, "heaven and earth" passed away and all was accomplished when the temple was destroyed in A.D. 70. (Matt. 24:34-35; Mk. 13:29-31; Lk. 21:23,32; II Peter 3:10; Rev. 21:6,10; cf. II Cor. 5:7) Until that time, Jesus said, not one jot or tittle (KJV) would pass away from the Law. (See Acts 21:20-26; 24:17)
Jesus did not preach a radical discontinuity. He did not come to repudiate the law and to replace it with another law, but He came to meet the requirements of the Law while the Law was still imposed. (Heb. 9:10) Only after He fulfilled the Law could any jots and tittles pass away from it (in A.D. 70).
"Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments..."
Doctrines of self-justification (which were based on the Law) were dissolved in A.D. 70. (II Peter 3:10-11) The separation and enmity between Jew and Gentile and between man and God (which was based on the Law) was abolished in A.D. 70. (Eph. 2:14-15) The bondage of God's children (which was based on the Law) was finally loosed in A.D. 70. (Lk. 21:28; Rom. 7:2-6; 8:23) And the old covenant itself (the terms of which were the commandments of the Law) was abolished in A.D. 70. (II Cor. 3:7; II Peter 3:10-12)
Yet the Law and the Prophets (i.e., "the Scripture") were not "annulled" or destroyed or broken. (Jn. 10:35) They were fulfilled.
In other words: As covenant, as condemner, as master, and as a means for appeasing God's eternal wrath (as men so misused the Law), the Law was utterly swept away in A.D. 70.
Yet the Law, as the Law, was fulfilled and established:
"Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law." (Rom. 3:31)
Since the sum of the Law is love, to walk in accordance with it is to be the servant of all. This is why believers who keep and teach God's laws are "great in the Kingdom." (Matt. 20:26-28; Lk. 9:48) To walk in the Spirit is not to reject the Law (i.e., "the Old Testament"). To walk in the Spirit is to agree with the Law, because the Law is spiritual. (Rom. 7:14-16)
At the Parousia of Christ in A.D. 70, all things came to pass, heaven and earth passed away, and the Law was fulfilled. Before that Day, the Law had a "shadow." (Col. 2:17; Heb. 8:5; 10:1) (that is, a body of symbolic, reminder-of-sin laws that foreshadowed the Redeemer) (Heb. 10:3) For this reason, the fulfillment of the Law in 70 necessarily meant the passing of "jots and tittles" (i.e., commandments) from it.
Jesus our heavenly High Priest made His people perfect through His one sacrifice. (Heb. 10:11-14) Since His blood continually cleanses us from all sin (I Jn. 1:7) and His Spirit teaches us to walk in love in fulfillment of the Law, (Matt. 5:48) there is no longer any need for the symbolic Levitical priesthood that made daily sacrifices for sins. In Christ then, the priesthood, and therefore the Law, was "changed." (Heb. 7:11-12)
Even as Christ "put away" (annulled, voided) sin by the sacrifice of Himself, (Heb. 9:26) so did He "set aside" (annul, void) the laws concerning the Levitical priesthood, (Col. 2:16-17; Heb. 9:10) because of their "weakness and uselessness." (Heb. 7:18) Jesus changed the customs of Moses. (Acts 6:14; Heb. 1:12) At His Second Appearing, many jots and tittles passed away from the Law, as the Law was fulfilled and changed, and eternally established, in spirit and in truth:
"For this is the Covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their minds, and I will write them upon their hearts...." (Heb. 8:10)
QUESTION 62: In Revelation it says that, "God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes." How is this fulfilled?
"They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb in the center of the throne shall be their Shepherd, and shall guide them to springs of the water of life; and God shall wipe every tear from their eyes." (Rev. 7:16-17)
"And God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no longer; nor mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things passed away." (Rev. 21:4)
"...And there shall no longer be any curse..." (Rev. 22:3)
Before the Advent of the Savior, God's servants were under the curse of the Law. (I Cor. 15:56; Gal. 3:13) Though God had blessed them in many ways, they were ultimately alienated from Him, and cried out to Him with tears as they wandered through a sun-scorched "wilderness" of sin and condemnation:
"Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry. Do not be silent at my tears. For I am a stranger with You, a sojourner like all my fathers." (Ps. 39:12)
The Savior wiped away the tears of His saints when He forever wiped away their sin and condemnation and saved them from Death. (Acts 3:19; Col. 2:14; Heb. 2:15; 5:7) In His Presence, His children no longer mourn for their perpetual sin and condemnation before Him. No longer do they hunger and thirst for want of Christ's Righteousness. (Matt. 5:6; Jn. 6:35) No longer do they wander in the desert wilderness, longing to enter into His Rest. (Heb. 4; 11:13-16) No longer do they suffer the pain (sting) of Death. (Acts 2:24; I Cor. 15:55-56; Heb. 2:15)
In the new heavens and earth, the Lamb is our Shepherd, so that there is no more outcry for salvation from sin and Death. For He leads us to the springs of living water (Jn. 4:10; 7:38) under the shade of the Tree of Life. In Him, there is "no longer any curse":
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ." (Eph. 1:3)
QUESTION 63: In your article New Covenant Salvation, you said that we are saved by grace "through faith." My question is this: Is "faith" something that man can attain, grasp or acquire through his own effort? Can man decide of his own volition to believe God? If so, then doesn't this mean that salvation is contingent upon man's effort? If grace is dependent upon our first meeting "the obedience of faith," (Rom. 1:5; 16:26) then isn't salvation actually conditioned upon obedience, and therefore not really received "by grace?"
ANSWER: While it is true that............
Our hearts are cleansed through faith. (Acts 15:9)
We are sanctified through faith. (Acts 26:18)
We receive the Righteousness of God through Faith. (Rom. 1:17; 3:22; 9:30; Phil. 3:9)
We are justified through faith. (Rom. 3:28,30; 5:1; Gal. 2:16; 3:8,24)
We have access through faith into the grace of God. (Rom. 5:1-2)
We receive the Spirit through faith. (Gal. 3:2,5,14)
We become sons of God through faith. (Gal. 3:26)
We are saved through faith. (Eph. 2:8; II Thess. 2:13; 3:15)
It is also true that...........
God gives us our faith. (Rom. 12:3; Phil. 1:29)
Our faith is not of ourselves, but is the gift of God. (Eph. 2:8)
God chose us to be saved through faith. (II Thess. 2:13)
Jesus is the Author and Perfecter of our faith. (Heb. 12:2)
We have access to God through Jesus' faith. (Eph. 3:12)
We receive faith through the righteousness of Jesus. (II Peter 1:1)
Faith in the blood of Jesus is not attained, grasped or acquired by "man's effort." You may "decide" or "will" to trust in Him, but only insofar as, "it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." (Phil. 2:13) Faith is acquired by God's sovereign choice / election. (Rom. 9:11-18) Faith is the gift of God. He is the Originator of it. Our faith is the faith of Jesus, which we recieve through His righteousness.
While it is true that we receive grace "through faith," this does not mean that grace (salvation) is "dependent" on the exercise of our faith. For it is equally true that we receive faith through grace.
"...those who had believed through grace." (Acts 18:27)
Our faith in the blood of God (Acts 20:28; I Jn. 3:1-16) is of Divine origin. It is the life-transforming evidence that we have become "partakers of the Divine Nature." (II Peter 1:4; cf. Heb. 11:1) This is why our faith is more precious than gold. (I Peter 1:7) This is why it is impossible to please God without faith, (Heb. 11:6) and this is why our faith in God's word is "reckoned as Righteousness." (Rom. 4:5,9)
"The just shall live by His faith." (Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38)
QUESTION 64: Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, wrote in his work Against Heresies (c. 180-190) that the Apostle John saw the Revelation "toward the end of the reign of Domitian." (Against Heresies 5:30:3) Domitian's reign ended in A.D. 96. Thus Irenaeus dated the book of Revelation at about A.D. 95. My question is this: How do preterists get around this external evidence for the late date of Revelation, and what external evidence do preterists have that suggests that the book of Revelation was written before the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70?
We will not, however, incur the risk of pronouncing positively as to the name of Antichrist; for if it were necessary that his name should be distinctly revealed in this present time, it would have been announced by him who beheld the apocalyptic vision. For that was seen no very long time since, but almost in our day, toward the end of Domitian’s reign. (Against Heresies 5:30:3)
A number of scholars since the 1700's have questioned the meaning of the last sentence of this statement. There is some question as to whether that which was "seen" was "the apocalyptic vision," or "him who beheld the apocalyptic vision," i.e., John. If Irenaeus was saying that "John" was seen "toward the end of Domitian's reign," (which makes sense in the context) then Irenaeus' statement here has little or no bearing on the early or late date of Revelation, but has more to do with the longevity of John.
Ironically, a piece of external evidence that preterists claim for the "early date" of Revelation is in the very same book by Irenaeus, Against Heresies, two paragraphs earlier. In 5:30:1, Irenaeus makes reference to "all the most approved and ancient copies" of the book of Revelation:
Such, then, being the state of the case, and this number [of the Beast] being found in all the most approved and ancient copies [of the book of Revelation], and those men who saw John face to face bearing their testimony to it....
Does it make sense that Irenaeus would refer to "all the most approved and ancient copies" of the book of Revelation, and then state that John saw the Revelation "no very long time since, but almost in our day?" I don't think so. What does make sense is that the book of Revelation was "ancient," and that John lived many years after he wrote it and was seen "almost in our day."
Clement of Alexandria (head teacher at the Catechetical School at Alexandria) was a contemporary of Irenaeus. He wrote his Miscellanies (or Stromata) in c. A.D. 190-195. In 7:17, he condemns certain teachers who were writing counterfeit scriptures. Clement explained that those teachers and their scriptures were counterfeit because they had appeared after the close of the teaching of the Apostles. According to Clement, the close of the teaching of the Apostles (which includes the writing of the Scriptures) "ends with Nero." Nero died in A.D. 68. Clement of Alexandria thus implied that the "New Testament," including the book of Revelation, was written before A.D. 68.
The Muratorian Canon (c. A.D. 170-200) contains this statement:
...the blessed Apostle Paul, following the rule of his predecessor John, writes to no more than seven churches by name.
The Canon teaches that John wrote to the seven churches in Asia Minor (Rev. 1:4) before Paul wrote to Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colossae and Thessalonica. Paul wrote these epistles from c. A.D. 50 to c. A.D. 65. The Canon therefore implies that John wrote the Revelation well before c. A.D. 65, and possibly as early the 50's, A.D. .
The apparent reference to Rev. 21:14 in Heb. 11:10 possibly indicates that the book of Revelation was written before the book of Hebrews (which was written in c. A.D. 64):
And the wall of the City had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. (Rev. 21:14)
For he was looking for the City which has the foundations, whose architect and builder is God. (Heb. 11:10)
And the possible allusion to Rev. 10:7 in I Cor. 15:52 could even indicate that the book of Revelation was written before I Corinthians (which was written in c. A.D. 55 / 56):
...but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound [the seventh and last trumpet (Rev. 8:6 - 9:13)], then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets. (Rev. 10:7)
...in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. (I Cor. 15:52)
(For more evidence for the early date of the book of Revelation, see Ken Gentry's book, Before Jerusalem Fell.)
QUESTION 65: You have said that the Law is engraved on believers' hearts and minds, since we are under the New Covenant. (Heb. 8:10-13) Does this mean we still follow the Ten Commandments, including the Sabbaths?
ANSWER: Yes, God still commands us to obey the Ten Commandments. Every Christian believes we must obey the first three commandments, as well as the last six; but as you indicate in your question, the fourth commandment seems to present a problem.
In Ex. 31:12-17, the Lord said that anyone who profaned the Sabbath by doing "any work" "shall surely be put to death." God forbade the people from kindling a fire in their dwellings on the Sabbath, (Ex. 35:3) and in Numbers 15:32-36 He commanded that a man who had been caught "gathering wood" on the Sabbath be stoned to death outside the City.
If believers are called to obey the fourth commandment today, it would seem that almost every believer should be put to death. For how many of us have done the equivalent of lighting a fire (turning on a light bulb?) or of gathering wood, (turning up the thermostat?) on a Sabbath day? And if the Sabbath law was indeed written on our hearts, how is it that most (if not all) believers continue to violate the ordinance?
The answer is in Col. 2:16-17:
Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths, things which are a shadow of what is to come; but the body is Christ.
The Sabbath law was a "[fore]shadow" of Christ. (Heb. 10:1) It was a "sign" that He alone is our Sanctifier. (Ex. 31:13) Today, the shadow and sign is fulfilled in the Body. In Him, we enter into "complete rest." (Ex. 31:15; Lev. 23:3) He has redeemed us from our "slavery" to sin "by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm," (Deut. 5:12-15) and has gathered us under His wings. (Lev. 23:3)
The Sabbath foreshadowed salvation, "by grace through faith, ...and not of works." (Eph. 2:8-9) When we trust in the blood of our heavenly High Priest and forsake our own works-righteousness, we enter into "His Rest," i.e., the "Sabbath Rest" of Israel. (Heb. 4:1-11) We keep the Sabbath today, not according to "the letter," (II Cor. 3:6) but "in spirit and in truth," by denying our own ways and our own words, and by delighting in our sovereign Redeemer, and honoring Him in the heavenly Land of promise. (Isa. 58:13-14; Heb. 11:16)
If this is true, if the Sabbath was a shadow / sign that was fulfilled spiritually in Christ, and if we keep it by daily trusting in His Righteousness, does this mean that God no longer commands us to literally rest on every seventh day? Are believers expected to earn their living seven days a week without resting? Or has God left us without a precept that touches on this aspect of our lives?
I believe that John Calvin gave a biblical answer to this question, in his Commentary on Genesis. He said that in the beginning, (many centuries before God gave the Sabbath law to Moses) God rested on the seventh day (Gen. 2:3) in order that His own example would be a perpetual rule for the whole human race in all ages, that all men should imitate God and consecrate every seventh day, that they might enjoy rest from their daily labors and dedicate themselves to celebrate God and to meditate on Him.
Calvin then added:
Afterwards, in the Law, a new precept concerning the Sabbath was given, which should be peculiar to the Jews, and but for a season; because it was a legal ceremony shadowing forth a spiritual rest, the truth of which was manifested in Christ. Therefore the Lord the more frequently testifies that he had given, in the Sabbath, a symbol of sanctification to his ancient people. Therefore when we hear that the Sabbath was abrogated by the coming of Christ we must distinguish between what belongs to the perpetual government of human life, and what properly belongs to ancient figures, the use of which was abolished when the truth was fulfilled... (John Calvin, Commentary on Genesis, 2:3)
QUESTION 66: How do preterists explain I Thess. 4:13-17? (the "Rapture")
ANSWER: I've seen three preterist interpretations of "the Rapture":
#1. Believers were literally "raptured" off the planet shortly before the A.D.-70 destruction of the City and Sanctuary. This was J. Stuart Russell's view in his book The Parousia.
The most common objection to this view is the unlikelihood of there being no historical record of the sudden vanishing of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people accross the Roman Empire. This view also conflicts with the doctrine of the establishment of the Church in A.D. 70. (Rev. 3:12; 21:2) If the Church was literally raptured, then the Church had been built up for 40 years only to be disestablished. Jn. 17:15 also contradicts the "literal rapture" view:
"I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one."
#2. The "rapture" describes what happens to believers upon physical death.
There is no question that all believers today are "raptured," as it were, out of their bodies into the blessedness of the "afterlife" when they die; and this is indeed the "hope" and "comfort" of all believers today. However, I believe that the context and the phraseology of I Thess. 4:17 indicate that the "Rapture" in question is not a description of individual death-experiences, but that it was a collective Event. (More on this below.)
#3. Believers were spiritually / symbolically "raptured" shortly before the A.D.-70 destruction of the City and Sanctuary.
This is the view I espouse. Here is how I understand I Thess. 4:13-17....
The Thessalonians had been enduring, and were continuing to endure, “persecutions” / “sufferings” / “afflictions.” (I Thess. 1:6; 2:14; 3:3-4; II Thess. 1:4-6) Because of this, Paul had been as a father “consoling” them, (I Thess. 2:11-12) and was concerned that they might be “drawn aside," or "swayed," by their afflictions." (I Thess. 3:2-5)
If this happened, then the Thessalonians might have grieved over their sufferings “as do the rest who have no hope.” (See II Cor. 7:10) For this reason, Paul encouraged them to continue to endure, to be strengthened in the Faith, and not to be "drawn aside." (II Thess. 2:16-17)
It was because of this need for comfort in the midst of persecutions that Paul reminded the Thessalonians that they would soon be glorified with their loved ones who had “fallen asleep through Jesus,” (I Thess. 4:17-18; 5:10-11) and that they would thenceforth be “forever with the Lord.”
According to “the word of the Lord,” the dead in Christ were to rise first. (I Cor. 15:23,52) They were to rise out from their place of resting and waiting, (cf. Rev. 6:9-11) and God was going to bring them “with Him” at His Parousia. Thereupon, the living were to be “caught up together with them” in glory, as the Lord poured out His wrath on the enemies:
...Then the Lord, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him! (Zech. 14:5)
...so that He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints. (I Thess. 3:13)
Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds that they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against Him. (Jude 14-15)
...Behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war. ...And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. (Rev. 19:11,14; cf. Rev. 19:19)
The suffering and dying believers of the Last Days, such as those at Thessalonica, were soldiers of God's heavenly armies, (I Cor. 14:21-22; Rev. 19:14) and judges in His heavenly court. (Dan. 7:22-27; I Cor. 6:2-3; Rev. 18:20; 20:4) Through their enduring faith and prayers, (Rev. 8:3-5) the “destroying mountain” of persecuting Israel was cast into the sea. (Jer. 51:25; Matt. 21:21; Mk. 11:23; Rev. 8:8) The cursed “fig tree” was cast into the flames, (Matt. 21:19; Mk. 11:14; Rev. 14:19) and the world of the evil one was conquered. (I Jn. 5:4,19) These things happened when God poured out His vengeance upon Israel for all the blood of His holy ones. (Matt. 23:35; Lk. 18:8; 21:22; Heb. 10:26-31; Rev. 6:9-11; 19:2)
In that Great Day, the Lord Jesus descended from Heaven in the glorious City of God, the “New Jerusalem,” (I Thess. 4:16; Rev. 3:12; Rev. 21:2,11,23) that is, the universal Church. (Jn. 3:29; Rev. 19:7; 21:2,9; cf. Matt. 16:28; Lk. 17:20-21) He was "formed" in the hearts of His people, (Gal. 4:19; II Peter 1:19) when He and the Father made Their Abode / Dwelling in each and every believer. (Jn. 14:3,23; Eph. 3:17)
The universal Church was “gathered” (Matt. 3:12; 24:31; 13:30; Mk. 13:27; Lk. 3:17; II Thess. 2:1) in that it became the eternal “Tabernacle of God.” (Rev. 21:3; II Cor. 5:8; Eph. 2:21-22) In this sense, God “changed” the Church (I Cor. 15:52) so that she became “like Him,” (I Jn. 3:2) and attained "to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." (Eph. 4:13; cf. I Cor. 15:49)
Believers were revealed with the Lord in spiritual, heavenly glory ("air" / clouds") when God's wrath against Israel made it manifest that Jesus' disciples are the true sons of God. (Rom. 8:17,19; Col. 3:4; II Thess. 1:6-10)
Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews, and are not, but lie-- behold, I will make them to come and bow down at your feet, and to know that I have loved you. (Rev. 3:9)
God "snatched" (raptured), or rescued, His believers from His wrath (I Thess. 1:10) and from the persecutions of the evil one. (I Thess. 3:5; II Thess. 1:7; 3:3) He "plucked" them out of the then-present "evil age." (Gal. 1:4) This happened when the fury of the Roman Empire came against the Jews, and when the Jews were consumed by civil war. These catastrophies befell the sons of the old covenant with increasing intensity from A.D. 66-70. It was in those years that the Church on Earth found "relief" (II Thess. 1:7) and was protected from her afflictions, as her persecutors (the Jews) were "shattered." (Dan. 12:1-7)
Since our Lord came with His saints and destroyed the earthly temple in A.D. 70, (Heb. 9:8) "God Himself" has dwelt "among men;" (Rev. 21:3) and through the power of His resurrection, the Church of all ages, the living and the dead, lives and reigns in glory with Him forever. (Rom. 6:8; II Cor. 13:4; II Tim. 2:11-12)
For if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and lived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. (Rom. 14:8-9)
QUESTION 67: Jesus told His disciples that He would come again and receive them to Himself, that where He is (i.e., in Heaven) they would be also. How has this been fulfilled? This sounds to me like a literal "rapture" off the planet into Heavenly glory.
"....In My Father's house are many dwellings; if it were not so, I would have told you; for 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, you may be also." (Jn. 14:2-3)
Jesus was not going to take the Church "out of the world" into Heaven. (Jn. 17:15) He and the Father were going to descend "out of Heaven" and make Their Dwelling in the Church:
"Jesus answered and said to him, If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our Dwelling with him." (Jn. 14:23)
The "Place" that Jesus was going to "prepare" for His disciples was the New Jerusalem:
"But as it is, they desire a better Country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a City for them." (Heb. 11:16)
The heavenly "Tabernacle" / "Dwelling" / "Place" / "Country" / "City" / "House" of God descended "from out of Heaven" to be "among men." (II Cor. 5:2; I Thess. 4:16; Rev. 3:12; 21:2-3,10) The Church was "clothed" with that Dwelling (I Cor. 15:52-54; II Cor. 5:2-4) --which is Christ Himself, (Rom. 13:14; Gal. 3:27; 4:19; Eph. 3:14-16; 4:13; II Peter 1:19) the incorruptible "New Man." (Eph. 4:20-24; Col. 3:1)
Jesus went to the Father so that He might pour out the indwelling "Spirit of truth" upon His elect. (Acts 2:33; Jn. 14:16-17) It was through the Holy Spirit that He "prepared" (Rev. 19:7; 21:2) His heavenly "House." (I Peter 2:5; Heb. 3:5-6) When the temporary, worldly, earthly, hand-made house was thrown down, (in A.D. 70) it was manifest that the Father and the Son had made Their eternal Habitation in and among believers. (Jn. 14:20; Rom. 8:13-14; II Cor. 4:18 - 5:1-2; Heb. 9:1-10; I Jn. 2:24; Rev. 21:22)
Since that Day, God's children are where Jesus is: with the Father (Jn. 10:38; 14:10-11) in the Holies. (Heb. 9:8-10; 10:19) Through the incorruptible blood, believers are granted face to Face fellowship and union with the Father and the Son. (Jn. 17:15-21; I Jn. 1:3; 2:24; II Jn. 1:9) This is the unfading and transcendent Glory of the New Covenant. (Jn. 17:24; II Cor. 3:7-18)
QUESTION 68: In May of 2002, an article was published that teaches that the entire Church of true believers was literally and physically "raptured" (removed) from planet Earth in the first century. The article says that this is what J. Stuart Russell taught a hundred years ago in his book The Parousia. Is this really what Russell taught?
ANSWER: No, that is not what Russell taught. He did teach a literal rapture in the first century, but he suggested that it was a "partial rapture"; not a rapture of "the whole body of the faithful," but a rapture of "a very great number of the faithful." (J. Stuart Russell, The Parousia, Preface to the New Edition, pg. 5. Or in the 1999 edition, Afterword, pg. 566)
Russell's "partial rapture" doctrine is generally not accepted by preterists today and is considered to be a relatively minor error, from a theological standpoint. (Most preterists now hold to a non-physical rapture view.) The new doctrine that came out in May 2002 however cannot be considered to be merely a minor error, for this reason: It explicitly denies the "continued Presence" of the Body of Christ on Earth.
This radical, covenantal discontinuity inherent in this new rapture doctrine bluntly conflicts with Scripture: In Dan. 2:35, the Stone that grew into a great Mountain and filled the earth was not removed from the earth as soon as it filled the earth in the first century. In Rev. 5:10, the priesthood of believers on the earth was not removed from the earth as soon as it was established on the earth in the first century. And in Rev. 21:2-3, the rebuilt Tabernacle of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit was not removed from among men on Earth as soon as it was established on Earth among men in the first century.
In a word, that which the Lord died to establish on Earth was not disestablished from the earth the very moment it was established on the earth.
If the Father did remove His New-Covenant Temple from among men, then it irresistibly follows that He thereby left the inhabitants of the world covenantally naked and homeless. The Kingdom of Heaven did not fill the earth only to be uprooted from the earth, leaving the earth formless and void as it was before the advent of the Son.
I understand that the few people who are teaching this "Corpus Interruptus" doctrine deny that it implies the discontinuation of the New Covenant in the first century. Remarkably, they find covenantal continuity in the idea that the false Christians were left behind to "carry on." (!) If that is their answer for Kingdom-continuity on Earth, then these men have apparently forgotten Daniel 2:44: "The Kingdom will not be left for another people...." (cf. Isa. 65:22a; Jn. 17:15)
The new rapture doctrine inexorably leads to the conclusion that the New Covenant ended in A.D. 70. If it spreads, others will later be more thoroughgoing, and will themselves boldly teach that the New Covenant (i.e., Christianity) ended in the first century. At that time, the legitimacy of the Church will be under a new and truly hyper-preterist attack. May this new rapture doctrine be promptly rejected by all before it overthrows the faith of any.
QUESTION 69: Isaiah 66:8 says, "Who hath heard such a thing? Who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children." Isn't it obvious even for a preterist that this verse was fulfilled in 1948 when Israel was reborn as a nation "in one day," on May 5th?
ANSWER: Verses 1-6 of that chapter speak of Israel's rebellion, (Isa. 66:3-4) Israel's persecution of the Church, (Isa. 66:5; cf. Jn. 16:2) God's subsequent wrath upon Israel, (Isa. 66:4) the doing away of animal sacrifices, (Isa. 66:1-3) and the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70. (Isa. 66:6; cf. Acts 7:49-50)
Verses 7-14 do not suddenly leap ahead 1,878 years to A.D. 1948. These verses tell us of the New Jerusalem, which is the Church, the bride of Christ. (Rev. 19:7; 21:9) She was born in one day, on the Day of Pentecost in c. A.D. 30. Isa. 66:8 is parallel to Isa. 54:1, which according to the Apostle Paul was fulfilled in the Church ("the Jerusalem above"). (Gal. 4:26-27)
In the Parousia of the Son of Man in 70, (Isa. 66:15-16) God executed judgment upon all in His Kingdom who profaned His holy ordinances (Isa. 66:3-4) and who persecuted His holy ones; (Isa. 66:5) but He extends peace like a river to those who are humble, contrite and who tremble at His Word. (Isa. 66:2,5,12) May we therefore let His Word say what it says, and not impose upon it artificial "gaps" and fleshly futurologies.
QUESTION 70: Where in Scripture is it taught that "death" means "separation from God?"
ANSWER:"The mind set on the flesh is death, ....because the mind set on the flesh is enmity toward God...." (Rom. 8:6-7; cf. Eph. 2:5; Col. 2:13)
Death is the "wages" of sin. (Rom. 6:23) Death is what sin produces. (Rom. 7:13) Death is what sin brings forth. (Jms. 1:15) "Death" is therefore the state of being under God's condemnation because of sin. (Rom. 5:16-18)
Adam and Eve died in the day that they sinned. (Gen. 2:17) They were dead (condemned, alienated) when they hid in shame "from the Presence of the Lord God." (Gen. 3:8; 23-24; cf. Col. 1:21)
QUESTION 71: According to Heb. 12:26-27, Hag. 2:6 was not yet fulfilled when the book of Hebrews was written. Yet God said that Haggai 2:6 would be fulfilled "in a little while." That was over 500 years before the book of Hebrews was written! Doesn't this prove that "a little while" can mean over 500 years, and that it could conceivable even mean "2,000 years?" Doesn't this prove therefore that we need not interpret the eschatological "imminency statements" in the New Testament literally?
ANSWER: Within only four years ("in a little while") after the prophecy in Hag. 2:6-9; 21-23 was given, God overthrew all the nations, (i.e., He "shook the heavens, the earth, the sea and the dry land") and the desire (or wealth) of all nations came, and the earthly temple was filled with glory (with gold, silver, etc.). (Compare Haggai 1:15; 2:10 and Ezra 6:15)
This all took place when Darius King of Persia overturned Israel's enemies, who for years had been preventing the rebuilding of God's house. Darius decreed, "May God ...overthrow any king or people who lifts a hand to change this decree or to destroy this temple in Jerusalem." (Ezra 6:11-12) Darius forced Israel's enemies themselves to pay the full cost of the rebuilding, as well as the full cost of all the daily, priestly services. (Ezra 6:8-10)
The power of Israel's enemies was broken. They had tried to turn the king against Israel, (Ezra 5) but God turned their own stratagems against them. He made them subservient to His people, taking their own wealth for the building of His glorious, earthly house. God had thus "moved heaven and earth" to keep the covenant that He had made with His people through Moses. (Ezra 6:18; Hag. 2:5)
The fulfillment of Haggai 2:6-9; 21-23 in Zerubbabel's generation was typological. It foreshadowed the fulfillment of the better promise (Heb. 8:6) that was fulfilled in Christ's generation. Israel's building of the greater, earthly house in Zerubbabel's generation was an example of the building of the true, heavenly "House" in Christ.
Numerous Old Testament prophecy fulfillments are revealed in the New Testament to have been "types" of Christ. Perhaps the most prominent example of this "apostolic hermeneutic" is found in Israel's inheritance of the promised Land under Joshua. That Old Testament fulfillment of prophecy is revealed in the New Testament to have been a type / foreshadow of the promised, heavenly Inheritance in Christ. (Heb. 4) Many other examples of this method of interpretation can be found throughout the New Testament. Compare, for instance, Isa. 7:14-8:4 with Matt. 1:23-25.
How did the prophecy in Hag. 2:6-9; 21-23 find its "true" fulfillment in Christ? (Heb. 8:2; 9:24) Within perhaps only four years ("in a little while") after Hebrews 12:26 was written, (Hebrews was written probably in about A.D. 66.) God overthrew all the nations. He "shook the heavens, the earth, the sea and the dry land." The desire of all nations came, and God's Temple was filled with Glory.
This happened when God overturned His enemies who, in their persecution of the Church, had furiously resisted the construction of His New-Covenant Temple. (Eph. 2:21,22; I Peter 2:5) Despite the rage of the enemies, God enlisted countless multitudes of His enemies to build His new House (Rom. 5:10; Col. 1:21; Rev. 5:9). And those enemies who resisted to the end were crushed, and were cast out of the Kingdom in A.D. 70. (Matt. 8:12; 21:43; Lk. 13:28; Acts 4:25-28; Gal. 4:30; Rev. 3:9)
God "moved heaven and earth" to keep the Covenant that He made with His elect through the blood of Christ. Now the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit dwell eternally in the universal Church, which is the New-Covenant House of promise. (Jn. 14:23; Gal. 4:19; Eph. 2:21-22; 3:17; Col. 1:27; II Peter 1:19; Rev. 3:20; 21:2-3) Through the power of the eternal Gospel, the desire of the nations flows into "the more perfect Tabernacle" today and forever, (Heb. 9:11; Rev. 21:26,27) and God Himself is its unfading Glory. (Rev. 21:23)
QUESTION 72: Please explain Romans 9:15-24. Do we have a will?
ANSWER: Yes, we do have a will. However, our receiving of the Promise in no way depends on our will. Our receiving of the Promise through faith is not conditioned upon our "willing" or "striving" to believe. (Rom. 9:16) It is conditioned upon God's purpose, choice and (effectual) calling. (Rom. 9:11-12)
God chose to create some of mankind ("the elect") for mercy, and others for hardening. (Rom. 9:18) God's choice was made long before any of us did anything good (such as exercise faith) or bad. (Rom. 9:11) Is it unjust or unfair of God to harden people who could not possibly have resisted His will / purpose / decree? (Rom. 9:14,19)
No, for three reasons:
1. Though they did not choose to be created "for ruin," (Isa. 54:16) nevertheless those whom God hardens truly deserve His wrath. They are "by nature children of wrath." (Eph. 2:3) What is "unjust," or incredible, is that God has mercy and compassion on any of His enemies. (Rom. 5:10; 9:14-15)
2. God uses "vessels of wrath" to display and make known His power, to spread His name in all the earth, to display His wrath against sin, and to make known the riches of His glory to His elect. (Rom. 9:18,22-23) This is why God "bears with much patience vessels of wrath." (Rom. 9:22) The enemies might flourish for a number of generations, but when their iniquity is complete, (Gen. 15:16) God judges them. He therein makes His power, wrath and glory known throughout all the earth, and this results in mercy to those who hear and put their trust in Him. Egypt was judged at the Red Sea. The sinful Kingdom was judged in A.D. 70. In both cases the result was the same: God was revealed and glorified; His Name was spread abroad, and the chosen among His enemies were called. Many other examples throughout history can be given. The judgment in Afghanistan is a very recent example.
3. God has the "right" to create from one lump of clay (humanity), vessels for honor and vessels for dishonor. (Rom. 9:21) Who are we to answer back to God and to protest what He does? We are clay, and He is the Potter. (Rom. 9:19-20) We are dust, and He is the eternal One. It is folly to quarrel with our Maker, (Isa. 45:9) and to say to Him, "What are you doing?" (Job 9:1-24) For apart from what God has revealed to us, we know absolutely nothing. The only wise thing to do then is to "cease striving," (Ps. 46:10) and to trust in His Righteousness. (Jer. 33:16; I Cor. 1:30)
QUESTION 73: A human being is a body AND a soul AND a spirit. Preterists say that the Church will never be raised from physical death. Ergo, preterism clearly teaches that dead believers are disembodied spirits forever and ever. They are no longer truly human. What's your defense against this?
ANSWER: If we must be in our bodies in order to be "truly human," then all those who have died and supposedly await the "Resurrection of the Flesh" are not truly human today. They must be "unhumans" who cannot be human again until they are reunited with their bodies at the end of history.
Futurists who argue that "man" minus "his body" equals "non-man," argue recklessly. They "prove too much." They in effect deprive our departed loved ones of their humanity until the end of the world. The Bible nowhere suggests that those who die become "non-humans" until they are resurrected. The Resurrection of the dead is never characterized as the restoration of former humans back to their lost humanity.
Jesus in fact made reference to a "man" in Hades, (Lk. 16:22-23) and Paul spoke of the possibility that a "man" was caught up, "out of the body," to "the third heaven." (II Cor. 12:2) In both of these instances, the "man" was the spirit of the man, out of the body. (cf. I Cor. 2:11) The departed spirit (and soul) of the believer is a human spirit, and it corresponds to the "inner man" (i.e., the inner human). (Rom. 7:22; II Cor. 4:16; Eph. 3:16; 4:23)
The departed spirit of the believer is not an inhuman, wraithlike phantom, like some sort of an exorcized demon; and it is not a quivering, shapeless "mist" like some kind of escaped gas. In contrast to such wildly extra-Scriptural notions, the Bible teaches us that the spirits of the saints in Heaven (Heb. 12:22-23) are "like the angels," (Matt. 22:30; Mk. 12:25; Heb. 1:7) and that they are not "naked," but are "clothed" with everlasting Righteousness. (Rev. 6:9-11; 14:13; 15:6; 19:8,14)
QUESTION 74: The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians is possibly the earliest uninspired, orthodox Christian work in existence. When was it written? And what is its eschatological message?
ANSWER: Assuming that I Clement is genuine and that it has survived substantially uncorrupted, it is safe to say that it was written between c. A.D. 67 and 70, and that its eschatological message is preterism.
For Clement, the Parousia, the Resurrection of the dead and the Judgment were all about to happen at the fall of the Temple in Jerusalem.
We know that Clement's epistle was written shortly after c. A.D. 67, because he says in chapter six that Paul and Peter were martyred “in our own generation,” and that they were “the most recent spiritual heroes.” (Chapter 5) Along with them, Clement adds, “a great multitude …endured many indignities and tortures…” (Chapter 6)
The “indignities and tortures” of Paul, Peter and the “great multitude” were probably part of the Neronian persecution (or more precisely, the Jewish-Neronian persecution) that began in c. A.D. 64. According to tradition, Peter and Paul were martyred in that persecution in c. A.D. 67.
We can infer that Clement's epistle was written before A.D. 70, because he speaks in four places of the Temple in Jerusalem:
In chapter 32: “…For from him have sprung the priests and all the Levites who minister at the altar of God…”
In chapter 40: “…He has enjoined offerings and service to be performed at the appointed times and hours. …Those, therefore, who present their offerings at the appointed times, are accepted and blessed; for inasmuch as they follow the laws of the Lord. …For his own peculiar services are assigned to the high priest, and their own proper place is prescribed to the priests, and their own special ministrations devolve on the Levites…”
In chapter 41: “…Not in every place, brethren, are the daily sacrifices offered, or the peace-offerings, or the sin-offerings and the trespass-offerings, but in Jerusalem only. And even there they are not offered in any place, but only at the altar before the temple, that which is offered being first carefully examined by the high priest and the ministers…”
In Chapter 23, Clement not only implies that the Temple is still standing, but he places the Resurrection of the dead in the day of its destruction.
Some at Corinth had doubts about the impending Resurrection, because so many years had passed by with no change. To impress upon the Corinthians the nearness of that Day, Clement told them to compare themselves to a vine. “In a little time,” he said, it sheds its leaves; it buds; it puts forth leaves; it flowers; it produces sour grapes, and then ripened and mature grapes. Even so, said Clement, “soon,” “suddenly” and “speedily” He would come and would “not tarry.” “The Holy One” would come “to His Temple.”
Thus before A.D. 70, Clement taught the Corinthians that when they reached maturity "in a little time," the Judge would come to His Temple and raise the dead. (cf. Mal. 3:1-2)
Clement's eschatology was pure, biblical preterism.
In this light, compare these two pairs of verses from I Clement and the book of Acts:
I Clement, Chapter 24: “…The Lord continually proves to us that the resurrection which is about to come will be…”
Acts 24:15: "There is about to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked."
I Clement, Chapter 28: “…Through His mercy, we may be protected from the judgment about to come…”
Acts 24:25: “As he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment about to come…"
QUESTION 75: What do preterists believe about the Lord's Supper? Do they still practice it today, or do they think it was abolished in A.D. 70?
ANSWER: Preterists are divided on this issue, although it seems that most preterists today hold to the continuation of the Lord's Supper. Below are the eight primary "Continuation-Versus-Cessation" arguments that are being discussed among preterists. (The first five are Cessation arguments with Continuation responses, and the last three are Continuation arguments with Cessation responses.)
Cessation argument: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes.” (I Cor. 11:26) The Lord came in A.D. 70. This means that after that time, the Church was no longer commanded to proclaim the Lord's death by means of “the Lord's Supper.” The Greek word used for "until" in I Cor. 11:26 usually (though not always) implies a cessation or end. And whenever the word is connected with the word "fulfilled," it always implies a cessation. (Matt. 2:14,15; Lk. 1:20; 21:24; Matt. 5:17 & Heb. 9:10; I Cor. 11:26 & Lk. 22:16; Rev. 6:11. The Lord's Supper was to be observed "until" (I Cor. 11:26) it was "fulfilled" (Lk. 22:16) and made "new" (Matt. 26:29; Mk. 14:25) in the Kingdom of God in A.D. 70.
Continuation response: The word “until” does not necessarily imply a termination. For example, Christ was to reign “until” He put all His enemies under His feet. (I Cor. 15:25; cf. I Tim. 4:13) “Until” cannot mean a termination in that verse because Christ reigns forever. (Dan. 7:14; Lk. 1:33; Heb. 1:8) “Until” in I Cor. 11:26 implies a culmination and establishment, not a termination.
Cessation argument: “For I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” (Lk. 22:16) The Lord's Supper was an unfulfilled sign / type. It was an eschatological rite that typified “Christ in you.” It was a kind of foretaste of the Fellowship of Christ. Therefore it was “fulfilled” (filled full, completed) when Christ made His Dwelling in the universal Church in A.D. 70. (Jn. 14:23; Gal. 4:19; Eph. 2:21-22; 3:17; Col. 1:27; II Peter 1:19; Rev. 3:20; 21:2-3) Since that day, all the saints, living and dead, dine with Him in the Kingdom, and no longer have need of the symbolic, flesh-ordinance that was imposed only "until" it was "fulfilled" and made "new" in A.D. 70.
Continuation response: “Fulfilled” does not necessarily imply a change from material to non-material. The truth that the Lord's Supper represents was brought to fullness in Christ in A.D. 70, but that does not mean that the Lord's Supper itself was to cease. Christ partakes of the Lord's Supper with us now in the Spirit as we partake of it physically on Earth.
Cessation argument: “But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that Day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.” (Matt. 26:29; Mk. 14:25; Lk. 22:16-18) The Lord's Supper was made "new" in A.D. 70. The Greek word for "new" is the adjective "kainos," and it modifies "it" (fruit/wine). In eschatological contexts, "kainos" describes something that is new in kind, and that is different than / other than that which, in comparison, is old or outdated. Thus the rite was going to be fulfilled and changed in the Kingdom of God. It was made "new" in the Parousia in the same sense that Jerusalem was made "new," and in the same sense that the heaven and the earth were made "new": It "passed away" and was "fulfilled" in That which it typified, which was the "new" ("kainos") bread and wine (the universal fellowship of Christ) in the Kingdom of God. (Matt. 9:17; Mk. 2:22; Lk. 5:37-39)
Continuation response: Since A.D. 70, the Lord's Supper is no longer a somber remembrance; it is a "new" celebration feast. Now He has Communion with us spiritually when we partake of the literal bread and wine.
4. "Foods, Drinks and Baptisms"
Cessation argument: "...They relate only to foods and drinks and various baptisms, even ordinances of the flesh imposed until a time of reformation." (Heb. 9:9,10) This verse speaks of the flesh-ordinances of the Levitical temple-system. Though neither the Lord's Supper nor Christian baptism were Levitical ordinances (strictly speaking), the principle laid down in Heb. 9:9,10 applies to both of them. Because the Lord's Supper (food and drink) and Christian baptism were ordinances for the flesh (i.e., ceremonial rites), they were, like the Levitical flesh-ordinances, imposed only until the time of reformation in A.D. 70. God did not replace old flesh-ordinances with new flesh-ordinances. Rather, He "fulfilled" all the flesh-ordinances (including the two eschatological ordinances) and made them "new." They were imposed only "until" they were realized in the heavenly glories they typified.
Continuation response: Heb. 9:9,10 refers only to the rites of the Levitical temple-system. It has no relevance to the Lord's Supper or to Christian baptism. Those two rites are not "ordinances of the flesh," they are New-Covenant ordinances.
Cessation argument: The Manna that the Israelites ate and the drink that they drank in the wilderness represented the Lord's body and blood. (Jn. 6:31-56; I Cor. 10:3-4) The Lord's Supper also represented the Lord's body and blood. When the Israelites entered the Promised Land, the representative food and the representative drink ceased. Likewise, when the Church entered the spiritual Promised Land in A.D. 70, the representative food and drink (the rite of "the Lord's Supper") ceased.
Continuation response: The manna and the Lord's Supper are not likened to each other in Scripture. They are contrasted. In Jn. 6:31-56, the manna is contrasted with the Lord's Supper, i.e., with Christ's “flesh and blood.” The manna was temporary. The Lord's Supper (His “flesh and blood”) is an eternal New Covenant ordinance. Likewise in I Cor. 10:3-4, the manna and the water in the wilderness were temporary, but the Lord's Supper (of which Paul speaks in the same chapter) is eternal.
Continuation argument: The Israelites took the Passover while they awaited their redemption in Egypt. Then after they entered the Promised Land, they continued to observe the Passover throughout the entire old-covenant age. The Lord's Supper is the fulfillment / antitype of the Passover. The New-Covenant Church took the Lord's Supper while it awaited its redemption from the old-covenant age. (Lk. 21:28; Rom. 8:23; Eph. 1:14; 4:30) Then after the Church entered the (spiritual) Promised Land (in A.D. 70), it was to continue taking the Lord's Supper throughout the entire New-Covenant Age. Just like the Passover, the Lord's Supper is an age-long Covenant-ordinance.
Cessation response: "The Lord's Supper" could not have been the fulfillment / antitype of the Passover, because the Passover was not "fulfilled" until A.D. 70. (Lk. 22:15,16) Paul taught that the Passover would be fulfilled through non-ceremonial means, i.e., by means of sincerity and truth: "Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the [Passover] feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." (I Cor. 5:6)
Continuation argument: The Lord's Supper was given to Gentile believers. This proves that it was not an “old covenant ritual.” It is therefore a New Covenant ordinance and is to be observed forever.
Cessation response: The Lord's Supper was a “transition ritual,” just like the revelatory gifts (tongues and prophecy) were “transition gifts” that were given to both Jews and gentiles, until the gifts were fulfilled and done away in A.D. 70. “The Lord's Supper” was a sign of covenant-confirmation given to the Jew-gentile Church in anticipation of the impending New-Covenant world. It was also a sign to the Jews, to "proclaim the Lord's death” in all nations until He came and destroyed the hand-made, old covenant temple. (I Cor. 11:26)
8. Sign and Seal
Continuation argument: God always gave ritual "signs and seals" with His covenants. This is the pattern of Scripture. Circumcision was the sign and seal of the Abrahamic covenant. (Gen. 17:10-14; Rom. 4:11) Under the New Covenant, we now have two "signs and seals": Baptism and the Lord's Supper.
Cessation response: The New Covenant is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant. The "sign" of that covenant (circumcision) was fulfilled and replaced with spiritual circumcision (i.e., "the circumcision of Christ" in Col. 2:11), not with "the Lord's Supper" and ritual baptism. Christ Himself came to dwell in and among all the saints in A.D. 70 in fulfillment of all the "signs" and of all the flesh-ordinances (including "the Lord's Supper"). He Himself is now our Bread (flesh) and Wine (blood). The New Covenant is the covenant of substance and fulfillment, not a covenant of more God-imposed covenant-signs.
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