Joel Osteen Says Buddhists Will Be In Heaven

Listen to the short clip and commentary below.


http://youtu.be/aNgQga4ES9U

Apostle Paul In 2014 To Cultic Heretical Hyper-Preterists

Paul2014

Max Kingism: An Unkingly Heresy – Stephen Wiggins

Max Kingism: An Unkingly Heresy

 

By Stephen Wiggins

In 1878 James Stuart Russell, a denominational preacher, wrote and anonymously published a 567-page book entitled The Parousia: A Critical Inquiry into the New Testament Doctrine of Our Lord’s Second Coming. The thrust of this whole literary endeavor was a desperate attempt to show that the Scriptures teach the second coming of Christ “with its connected and concomitant events,” such as the resurrection of the dead, the judgment day, the end of the world, etc., took place during the first century at the destruction of Jerusalem and downfall of Judaism.

Nine years later, in 1887, an unaltered second edition of the same volume (with the exception that the author’s name appeared on the title page) was made available, wherein the author confessed that his views had not met with “ready concurrence” from the reading public. In other words, most Bible students rejected Russell’s newfangled notions as being nothing more than false and fanciful hallucinations of a misguided brain, being as they were without a shred of biblical support.

In 1971, 93 years following the publication of Russell’s original work, Max King, a preaching brother from Warren, Ohio, published The Spirit of Prophecy,wherein he set forth essentially the same conclusions as his sectarian counterpart. Read from Russell first: “We conclude that the parousia, the resurrection, the judgment, and the last day, all belong to the period of the destruction of Jerusalem” (p. 126).

Now hear King:

There is no scriptural basis for extending the second coming of Christ beyond the fall of Judaism. … The second coming of Christ is associated with numerous events that have a direct bearing on the consummation of God’s redemptive purpose, such as the judgment, the resurrection, the end of the world, and the establishment of the eternal kingdom (pp. 105, 155).

Here, both authors clearly affirm that Christ’s second coming, along with other eschatological phenomena, was fulfilled in A.D. 70 with the fall of the Jewish state. The difference between what Russell and King are saying amounts to the same difference as twiddle-dee and twiddle-dum.But now here’s the funny. When C. D. Beagle, father-in-law to Max King, wrote the introduction to King’s book he stated, “I am certain a whole new view of the Scriptures will open up before you.” Bah! Don’t these boys know there’s not a thing under the sun new about this unkingly heresy they’re trying to palm off on the brotherhood? Why, it is nothing more than an old, worn-out, and oft-refuted denominational blunder of a century before – regurgitated tommyrot which reeks of a rancid sectarian stench from toe to top – repudiated and rejected many times over by sound and sensible students of the Book. You will please excuse me when I choose not to swallow this spiritual strychnine as suicide of the soul has never appealed to me.

Even if the stuff were new, as the Kingites take pride in spouting, this would only prove it is a Johnny-come-lately, too modem to be anything kin to scriptural truth of the apostolic kind. What? You say King will tell me that the resurrection is past already, as there were some in the first century teaching the same? O.K. Let’s see what inspiration says about it – “And their word will eat as doth a gangrene, of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; men who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already, and overthrow the faith of some” (2 Tim. 2:17-18).

See? It’s not new. But like a sassy, old woman prancing around in a miniskirt, King thinks he’ll get some lookers if he can dude up his ancient heresy in chic garb of the 20th century. But we know better.


Published September 1993

The Allurement of Hymenæn Preterism: The Rise of Dispensable Eschatology by Jim West

The article originally appeared in the July 1997 The Chalcedon Report and is reprinted with the explicit permission of that body

A fellow pastor of a Reformed congregation informs me that a recent visitor to his congregation was encouraged to sign the guest book. When the service was over and the congregation disbanded, he peered at the guest book and noted the signature of the visitor, followed by a most unusual appendage: his name followed by the word “preterist.” The visitor could have saved the minister a lot of time from searching the dictionary for the meaning of the word had he signed his name “Hymenæus” instead of “preterist.”

What is a “preterist?” And who was Hymenæus? The word “preterist” is a grammatical term describing what is “past.” Thus, if our interpretation of the Book of Revelation is that most, if not all, the book is fulfilled, we would be “preterists.” Or, if our interpretation of the first 34 verses of Matthew 24 saw their fulfillment in the A. D. 70 coming of Christ, we would subscribe to the preterist interpretation. However, in recent years a new expression of preterism has emerged that assigns the Second Coming or Parousia of Christ, the general Resurrection, and the Great White Throne Judgment to the past. In other words, there are no future prophetic events. According to this scenario, time will continue on this terrestrial ball forever. Both sin and the earth are everlasting. At death the soul of the believer passes into the presence of God and the soul of the unbeliever (presumably) to judgment-both to be disembodied spirits forever. The advocates of these ideas call themselves “consistent preterists” over against the “inconsistent preterists,” who, it is claimed, fail to face the implications of their position. The so-called “consistent preterist” holds that the Second Coming of Christ occurred in A. D. 70, and that the resurrection occurred when Israel was spiritually quickened. Some “consistent preterists” will even claim to be Calvinistic in their soteriology. Consequently, Christians who truly love the doctrines of grace may be taken unawares. There will be the temptation to treat bygones as bygones, to minimize the colossal differences. This amalgamation-temptation threatens to compromise the historic creeds of the church, especially such vital Christian teachings as the resurrection.

The Centrality of the Resurrection

The cardinal doctrine of the New Testament is the resurrection. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15 that if Christ be not raised up, our faith is vain, our preaching is vain, and we are of all men most miserable. Paul’s thrust is that a dead Christ cannot save and that the church cannot have communion with a Christ who is still in the throes of death. Christ was raised from the dead in order to justify us (Rom. 4:25). Most significantly, it was by Christ’s resurrection that He “was declared to be the Son of God with power. . .” (Rom. 1:4). The resurrection is not only a blazing advertisement for the verity of Christianity, but the supreme attestation to the Deity of Christ Himself. If there is no resurrection, there is no Christianity. Scripture even teaches that salvation itself is a resurrection (Jn. 5:24). The purpose of Christ’s resurrection was to justify the whole man-body and soul. Even the new birth is actually a metaphor for the resurrection instead of the resurrection a metaphor for the new birth. Our labor is based on the bodily resurrection of Christ too. We are animated to work because of the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:58). Our work ethic is not only the (proverbial) “Protestant Work Ethic,” but “the Resurrection Work Ethic.” This is why we abound in the work of the Lord. Our very redemption is portrayed as the redemption of our bodies (Rom. 8:23).

What about Hymenæus?

The “consistent preterists” (as they charitably define themselves) deal with the resurrection in a manner that parallels two apostolic personalities. We refer to Hymenæus and Philetus, whom Paul names in 2 Timothy 2:17. These men were apparently church members (they “named the name of Christ”- verse 17). They were resurrection preterists and probably preterists in regard to the Second Coming of Christ, too. Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 2:18 about their belief that “the resurrection is already past.” How could they have been afforded some prestige in the church?

For starters, they no doubt arrived at this conclusion sometime after their profession of faith in Christ. Thus, they were members in good standing in the church. In addition, they may have been leaders in the church, perhaps even elders or pastors. What is more, they did affirm and confess the resurrection! The resurrection was an important article of their faith that perhaps they would even have died for. They would confess their whole-hearted agreement with the “Blessed Hope” of the Second Coming and the promise of the resurrection. Upon being questioned about their views, they would argue that their faith is the same faith as the church as a whole, except for their exotic belief that the resurrection is “already past.”

What did they mean when they taught that the “resurrection is already past”? First, their error was not that the resurrection of Christ was “past.” Recognition that the resurrection of Christ was an historical event is not heresy. Had Hymenæus denied the past resurrection of Christ he would have been guilty of an obvious deviation from Biblical truth. One reason is every sermon in the Book of Acts exalts the resurrection of the flesh of Christ. The Apostle Peter provided a homiletic precedent for all future sermons by citing the second Psalm and its teaching about the resurrection of Christ’s “flesh” (Ac. 2:31). So this could not have been his error.

If Hymenæus meant that the bodily resurrection of the believer is “already past,” he would have been speaking nonsense, for he himself would have been bodily resurrected. It is possible that he might have referred to the individuals who were resurrected on the very day that Jesus was crucified (Mt. 27:51-53). However, since 1 Corinthians 15 and other resurrection-Scriptures were written long after that, the probability of this is zero.

The interpretation with the most distinct ring of truth is that he embraced the idea that the Christian’s spiritual resurrection is past or that Israel’s spiritual resurrection is past. Therefore he argued that there was no future, bodily resurrection for believers (or even unbelievers).

Reasons for Hymenæn Preterism

Why did Hymenæus and Philetus argue that the resurrection was past? The first reason is that they no doubt had a low view of the body-perhaps thinking of the body as a kind of shell for the more important spirit. This is the old error of Platonism that taught that the “body is the prison of the soul.” If the body is the prison of the soul, that does not forebode good things about the body; neither does it envision any future resurrection of that “prison.” The very word “prison” is inflammatory; couched in modern terms, we could ask why anyone would want to resurrect Alcatraz so that he might once again occupy cellblock 25?! This is how they viewed the body: as cellblock 25. Scripture teaches that it is the grave that is the real prison-not the body. The pathetic Greek view of the body was influenced not only by Gnostic thinking which despised matter as evil, but also by a confounding of the good and the sinister usages of the word “flesh” in the New Testament (Gal. 5:19; Ac. 2:30-31). Its modern equivalent is those who despise the body, such as monastics, or those who mistreat their bodies by the neglect of the right foods or exercise or over-indulgence, such as gluttons and drunkards. An old expression of this contempt for the body is the doctrine that our souls preexisted before our bodies. The idea here is that the body was made only to house the all-important soul. A recent expression of contempt for the body was the thirty-nine self-murderers in Rancho Sante Fe who wanted to be liberated from their bodies to reach the “next level.” They justified the exit of their spirits by demeaning their bodies as mere “containers.”

“Consistency”

The second attraction of Hymenænism is that it is ostensibly consistent (given the erroneous premise that the Second Coming of Christ has already occurred). Scripture does teach that the Second Coming and the resurrection of the body are simultaneous events (1 Cor. 15:23). In this passage Paul writes, “But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” If the only coming of Christ is His A.D. 70 spiritual coming, then the resurrection must have occurred then too. Hymenæns are therefore compelled to merge Christ’s Second Coming at the end of human history with his A.D. 70 coming. Virtually all of the “comings” of Christ in the New Testament are seen through Hymenæn glasses.

The new Hymenæn view parallels the Hymenænism of Paul’s day except that we know more about its details. The new Hymenaens do teach the Second Coming of Christ and the general Judgment during the last days. There is the “up-front” declaration that these doctrines are true-but again with the caveat that they are “already past.” Some Hymenæns even assert that all the eschatology of the Bible is fulfilled and “all is perfect” in the New Testament era-a statement that exudes a tinge of Christian Science and naivete.

Overreaction to Dispensationalism

The third attraction of Hymenænism stems from an overreaction to dispensationalism, together with its esoteric charts and graphs, which include one false prediction after another. The church has been listening to the voices of Darby, Scofield, Hal Lindsey, Dave Hunt, Ryrie, Jack Van Impe, and Chafer, etc., for over 150 years. Whereas the hallmark of dispensationalism is elaborate charts and comic-book scenarios of the future, the Hymenaens have no charts at all. For them there is nothing to think about; all prophecy is fulfilled-no charts at all. Life is easy. Eschatology is the easiest of all. They peer into the future and see nothing. They speak of all prophecy as “fulfilled eschatology.” One Hymenæn writer even tells us that the “hope of the resurrection” is an “empty” hope and an empty expectation, and that with regard to the future the Christian turns over the next leaf “and there is nothing.” Amazingly, the followers of Hymenæus have chosen to combat dispensational eschatology with an eschatology that dispenses with eschatology!

Matthew 24

Jesus’ Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24 highlights a Hymenæn interpretation versus a true, preterist interpretation. Our Lord completes the first part of His sermon with the famous “Time-Text,”-”Verily, verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away until all these things be fulfilled.” The orthodox preterist interpretation is that everything that occurred before verse 34 saw its fulfillment in that generationthe contemporary generation of Jews. However, the Hymenæns merge everything that occurs after verse 34 into the A.D. 70 spiritual coming of Christ. For example, Hymenæns argue that even verse 36 is about A.D. 70, when Jesus states, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” The problems with this viewpoint are explained adequately by Marcellus Kik in his Eschatology of Victory, and the reader is urged to review his arguments. Echoing Kik, we affirm that the designated “that day” does not refer to the days of tribulation for Israel prior to the coming of the Romans. The reason is that “that day” had already been introduced by our Lord earlier, even as far back as the Sermon on the Mount. For example, the Lord tells us that not every one who says unto Him, “Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven,” and that “many shall say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Mt. 7:21-23). Earlier in Matthew, the Lord compared Israel’s judgment with some of the historic cities that were notable for wickedness. Christ preached, “But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment than for you.” And again, “But it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for thee” (verse 22, 24). Christ had already drilled the “that day of judgment” terminology into the heads of the disciples, which they would have understood as including Sodom and Tyre and Sidon on a day other than A.D. 70. Certainly Tyre and Sidon and Sodom were not judged in A.D. 70. In the Matthean account of the Olivet Discourse, “that day” is an explicit reference to the great day when God will judge all past, present, and future generations. Paul also in his sermon to the Greeks on Mars’ Hill preached “a day” that God will judge all men (Athenians included-not just Jews) by that Man Whom He has appointed (Ac. 17:31).

The best commentary on the “that day” terminology of verse 36 is both what follows verse 36 and what flows from verse 36. There are several parables that follow verse 36, the Faithful Servant and Evil Servant (24:45-51), the Wise and Foolish Virgins (25:1-13), and the Talents (25:14-30). This string of Second Coming parables is capped off with the picture of the Son of Man judging the nations “when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory” (25:31). When he comes “all nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats” (25:2). Christ’s coming to judge all nations does not merely follow Matthew 24:36 in chronological sequence-it flows from it.

Interestingly, both dispensationalists and Hymenæns have adopted an all-or-nothing approach: the former interpret virtually every coming of Christ prophesied in the New Testament as the Second Coming; the latter interpret every prophesied coming as Christ’s A.D. 70 spiritual coming. There are then dispensational eschatologists and dispensable eschatologists.

The “dispensable eschatology” of the Hymenæns also dispenses with the resurrection of the believer’s body at Christ’s Second Coming. Beginning with the premise that there is only one coming of Christ (A.D. 70) they force all other parousia-texts into an A.D. 70 straitjacket. This forces them to deny the resurrection of the flesh and to wrest the meaning of 1 Corinthians 15. Scripture teaches that what makes the Second Coming of Christ the “blessed hope” is not a bare, physical coming of our Lord. The “blessed hope” is not only tied to the “hope of the resurrection,” but is colored and defined by the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:19; Ac. 23:6; 26:6; 2:26; 1 Thes. 4:13ff). It is only because of the resurrection of the body that we will be able to see the Lord and be caught up with the Lord in the air. This was the faith of Martha who said, “I know that he [Lazarus] shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (Jn. 11:24), and the repeated teaching of Christ who taught, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn. 6:40, 44, 54). The Hymenæns repeatedly fail to distinguish between the “last days” of Israel and “the last day” at the end of this world. This in turn causes them to trivialize the resurrection of Christ and to discount the believer’s bodily resurrection altogether.

Misunderstanding Paul

A fourth attraction of Hymenænism is based upon a misinterpretation of Paul’s statement in 1 Thessalonians 4:15, where he writes, “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not precede them which are asleep.” Devotees of Hymenæus argue that Paul believed that he and others would escape death to witness the Second Coming. It is then urged that the Parousia had to occur during Paul’s lifetime. There are innumerable problems with this interpretation. First, not only would Paul have to be alive, but everyone in the church at Thessalonica to whom he was writing, too (he did say “we” which are alive). If we dogmatically assert that Paul experienced the Parousia, then we must dogmatically assert the same for all his readers. If so much as one of his readers was cut off by death before the Parousia, then we could not rule out the possibility that Paul himself (as well as all the Thessalonians) might have died before the advent of the Lord. Clearly, Paul is not telling the Thessalonians that each of them would escape death to experience the A.D. 70 coming. 1 Thessalonians may in fact have been the first letter that Paul ever wrote-perhaps twenty years before the destruction of Jerusalem. The reason he speaks of himself and them (the Thessalonians) as “living” is because he must distinguish between the living and the dead. His goal is to impart comfort to the living, not because he knew that the living would be alive when Christ returned, but because the living needed to know that their dead would be the “first” beneficiaries of the Second Advent (1 Thes. 4:16). His purpose is to impart comfort to the living about their dead (this is why he numbers himself with the living), not to prophesy that his generation would escape death altogether.

Another problem with the Hymenæus interpretation of 1 Thessalonians 4:15 is that this very epistle was read by other Christians too. It was to be read by “all the holy brethren” (1 Thes. 5:26-27). Keep in mind that the influence and therefore the fellowship of the Thessalonian Christians was great: this church was an example to “to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe” (1 Thes. 1:7). From this church the word of the Lord (which included “the word of the Lord” spoken to Paul about the Parousia and the resurrection – 1 Thes. 4:15) “sounded forth” “in every place” (1:18). According to Hymenæn logic, every pre-A.D. 70 Christian who read 1 Thessalonians 4:15 would beat the grim reaper to be alive at Christ’s A.D. 70 coming.

The disciples of Hymenæus argue that all of Matthew 24 is about A.D. 70. Christ’s coming to judge Israel is the Second Advent, they claim. Yet, Jesus says in Matthew 24:36, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” If, as the Hymenæns assert, the “that day” of verse 36 applies to the A.D. 70 coming (which not even Christ in His human nature was privy to), how could Paul and all the Thessalonians know that they would escape death to experience it?

The Hymenæns also have an insurmountable difficulty meshing 1 Thessalonians 4:17 with 1 Corinthians 15:52, which reads, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” Notice: whereas in 1 Thessalonians 4:15 Paul speaks of himself as possibly alive when Christ returns, in 1 Corinthians 15:52 he speaks of himself as bodily “resurrected” when Christ returns. Paul’s intent is not to declare that he would be dead when Christ returned, any more than he would be living at his return. He is merely identifying himself with the people of God. Paul no doubt had a certain knowledge either that he would be alive or that he would be a participant in the resurrection after his death, but that certain knowledge is not the same as saying that he knew for sure which one of these alternatives would be his lot.

Also, nowhere does the Bible state that the bodily resurrection of all believers “is near,” is “at hand,” is “close.” However, there is a statement describing the heretics who assert that the resurrection is “already past”-the Hymenæns!

Satanic Pride

The fifth reason for Hymanæn theology is Satanic pride, a desire to pass muster before men. Heretics love novelties. The pride in this case is not just opposing the resurrection theology of the Bible, but the craving to make a name for oneself-the desire to have the preeminence, that is, the spirit of Diotrephes (3 Jn. 9). The pride factor is particularly easy to spot in the Hymenæns, for they are obsessed with a resurrectionless preterism. It extends further than identifying oneself as a “preterist” on the guest registrar of the church. The Hymenæns are campaigning to “subvert” the Faith of others. Believing that they have discovered some new truth that has been hidden from the church for the last 2000 years, we can well understand their zeal. In Paul’s last words to the elders at Ephesus, he wept, stating that after his departure, grievous wolves would enter in, and from even their own selves “shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Ac. 20:30). Since Paul was writing to Timothy who was probably in Ephesus, we can identify Hymenæus and Philetus as two of these invaders.

What Is a Resurrection?

Because of the simultaneity of Christ’s coming and the believer’s resurrection, the Hymenæns are forced to redefine the word “resurrection.” For example, R.C. Leonard and J.E. Leonard in their book, The Promise of His Coming, define “resurrection” as following:

The New Testament term for resurrection, anastasis, is not a theological word but is related to the verb stenai Paul employs in the above passage [Eph. 6:11-13]. In ancient Greek literature, stenai is sometimes used in the sense of rising up in protest or rebellion. Resurrection or anastasis is literally “standing again” in defiance of enemy powers, and thus contains an element of vindication. (181)

The Leonards then quote Acts 2:23-24, where Peter argues that after Jesus was crucified, that “God raised Him up again. . . .” Thus, for the Leonards “resurrection” means vindication. What they call only “a feature” about Christ’s resurrection becomes the leading motif so that his bodily resurrection is diminished. For the Leonards, the real victory of Christ was not his overcoming physical death, but his standing up for his cause. Their notion that anastasis (“resurrection”) is not a theological word is both unwarrantable and astounding! The weakness of their whole argument is shown by the appeal to the Greek outside the Bible and even that is indirect-the best they can do is relate anastasis to the Greek verb stenai, which even by their own admission is used infrequently outside the Bible. Therefore, what is universally defined in the New Testament as a resurrection of the flesh, plays second fiddle to Christ as a mere champion and rebel. Of course, every interpreter of the New Testament ought to know that it is the context of the New Testament itself that colors and defines a word. What kind of credibility can a person have who would argue that the Greek word for resurrection is “not a theological word”?! The Leonards both dodge and discount the word anastasis as it is used throughout the Bible.

Hymenæns compound their error about the resurrection further when they argue that all of 1 Corinthians 15 is a description of the spiritual resurrection of Israel during the last days of Israel’s existence. The Leonards tells us:

All of this shows that, for the New Testament writers, the resurrection is an ongoing process. It corresponds to the fulfillment in Christ of God’s promises to Israel during the last days of the old covenant period. Resurrection is accomplished “by the Spirit” and is a progressive overcoming of sin-death (Ibid, 171).

Not only is Israel not mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15; there is no Scripture proof that resurrection is “a progressive overcoming of sin-death.” Resurrection is connected to crucifixion and is as once-for-all as the death of Christ on the cross. That the Leonards see 1 Corinthians 15 as having its fulfillment in the A.D. 70 experience of Israel makes them the contemporary disciples of Hymenaeus.

Does all this mean that the Leonards rule out a future, bodily resurrection? They claim that while the Scriptures do not teach a future bodily resurrection, nevertheless, “fulfilled eschatology does not take issue with a bodily resurrection” (Ibid 177). This cavalier concession should not impress us, for it goes no further than the old Sadducean error. Alfred Edersheim recounts:

…the Talmud expressly states that the real principle of the Sadducees was not, that there was no resurrection, but only that it could not be proved from the Torah, or Law. From this there was, of course, but a short step to the entire denial of the doctrine; and no doubt it is taken by the vast majority of the party” (Sketches of Jewish Social Life, 241).

Also, we should note that the comment about not taking issue with a bodily resurrection is more a concession than a confession. Paul did not concede the resurrection; Paul proclaimed both the resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of the believer (1 Cor. 15:1-4).

1 Corinthians 15

The error of making the resurrection refer to the resurrection of man’s spirit or to the resurrection of Israel is an attack on the resurrection of Christ himself, for if Christ’s resurrection is a true paradigm of ours, then his and ours must be identical. The believer’s bodily resurrection is tied to the resurrection of Christ, whose resurrection is the down payment of ours (1 Cor. 15:1-9). 1 Corinthians 15 teaches that Christ is the “firstfruits of all that slept” and that “every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits: afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming” (vs. 20, 23). This is proven not only by the word “firstfruits” which means that the first sheaf is the same as the others in the resurrection harvest, but the fact that the first part of 1 Corinthians 15 defines Christ’s resurrection in terms of his body. He rose again on the third day (v. 4), he arose according to the Scriptures (verse 4-which would include such Psalms as Psalm 16 where the “flesh” of Christ is stated), and he was “seen” (v. 5-8).

Not surprisingly, many Hymenæns do in fact spiritualize Christ’s resurrection. This is done in two ways: (1) It may be argued that Christ arose in spirit and that his post-resurrection appearances were in a temporary bodily form that he assumed after his spirit-resurrection. Therefore all of the physical appearances of our Lord after his spirit-resurrection were not, according to them, in the same body in which he was crucified. (2) The students of Hymenæus will also argue that the body of Christ was a “spiritual body” (meaning a non-physical body). This conclusion is made on the basis of 1 Corinthians 15:44, where Paul writes that “it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body.”

How shall we respond to the Hymenæus “resurrection” theology? To begin with, not all Hymenæns are as consistently heretical as they should be. Not all boldly dispute the physical resurrection of Christ. Some seem non-committal; others are slippery; others (the Leonards) see vindication for a cause as the central motif; still others have imbibed the historic Anabaptist idea that God created a new body for Christ (his resurrection not being a resurrection so much as a new creation). Yet, whatever the nuance of their heinous error, they do in fact argue against it when they deny the bodily resurrection of the believer. Paul deduced that if our bodies are not raised up, then Christ is not raised up (1 Cor. 15:16). The reluctance of every Hymenæn to come to grips with his error resembles the deniers of the virgin birth of Christ, who would argue against the virgin birth, and yet claim both the impeccability of Christ and the full Deity of Christ. It is not difficult to see that the belief that Jesus was begotten by an earthly father threatens the doctrine of His impeccability. Also, how can a man with a naturalistic origin be a supernatural Savior? Likewise, if we disclaim the future resurrection of the believer, we are in fact repudiating the historic resurrection of Christ, no matter how much we protest to the contrary.

Let us not imagine that the Hymenæn movement is monolithic either. Hymenæns who claim the title “consistent preterist” disagree with other Hymenæns who claim the same. While all Hymenæns agree that the resurrection is “already past,” not all formally disclaim the resurrection of Christ in the flesh. They may discount the importance of Christ’s resurrection, but not all discount its factuality. Other Hymenæns argue for the discontinuation of the Lord’s Supper since Christians are to partake of the Supper “till He come” (1 Cor. 11:26). Thus Hymenæns themselves do not have a uniform definition of a “consistent preterist.”

Second, the belief of many Hymenæns that Jesus took upon himself only a temporary body after His spirit-resurrection fails to answer some significant questions. The Hymenæns have no explanation as to what became of the body of Christ after his ascension: as far as they are concerned, it may have peeled off like a space-capsule. Also, this does not explain the empty tomb. If the resurrection of Christ was a spirit-resurrection, why was the tomb empty? The empty tomb speaks tons about the physical resurrection. The fact that there were still holes in the side of Christ and imprints of nails in his hands testifies that the body that was crucified was the same body that was resurrected (Jn. 20:25, 27). Christ describes himself as body when he challenged his disciples, “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he showed them his hands and his feet” (Lk. 24:39-40). Notice: Christ describes himself as “I” in the bodily sense, even denying that he is a “spirit.” There is no spirit-resurrection here.

Third, the “spiritual body” of the believer does not mean that the believer will possess a non-physical body. The contrast in 1 Corinthians 15 is not between a physical body and a non-physical body. Paul’s contrast is between a “natural body” and a “spiritual body.” What is a “natural body?” The answer is a body that is susceptible to death, pain, etc. A “flesh and blood” natural body is different from a “flesh and blood” spiritual body because the spiritual body is raised up by the same Spirit that raised Jesus and is incapable of dying (Rom. 8:11). Christ was not raised up a spirit, but a “spiritual body.” As Zacharias Ursinus wrote:

The apostle means by a spiritual body, not that which is changed into the Spirit, or which is in all its properties equal to the Spirit, but that which is ruled by the Spirit of God, which is immortal and free from all misery, adorned with heavenly splendor, glory, activity, strength, and holiness.

Augustine is also most helpful. He wrote:

We must not imagine that because the Apostle says that the body which we have in the resurrection will be spiritual, that it will be purely spiritual without any body. But he calls that a spiritual body, which is wholly subject to the Spirit, and which is free from corruption and death; For when he calls the body which we now have a natural body, we must not suppose that it is not a body, but a soul. Therefore as the body which we now have is called natural, because it is subject to the soul, and cannot be called spiritual, because it is not yet fully subject to the Spirit, as long as it may be corrupted, so it will then be called spiritual, when it will not be able with any corruption to resist the Spirit.

Perhaps sensing the consistency problem, some Hymenæns are toying with the idea that there may not even have been an incarnation of Christ too. Others assert that the resurrection of Christ was spiritual. Despite certain discontinuities in the movement, all Hymenæns diminish the body-believing that the body is extraneous to man’s being. This obviously raises questions about their overall view about Christ’s Person and work. To be a truly consistent, Hymenæn preterist, one should deny the flesh of Christ from cradle-to-grave, resurrection to Second Coming.

So, it is important to understand that the Hymenæn movement is a Christological error as well as a prophetic error. The fall of just one “incarnation-domino” will lead to the fall of a second domino, etc. No Second Coming in the flesh means no resurrection of the flesh and no resurrection of the flesh means there is no incarnation. Watch the dominoes fall! We have here a “dispensable Christology” as well as a “dispensable eschatology.”

Paul’s Assessment of Hymenæn Theology

How then should we treat those who embrace Hymenænism and yet claim to wear the badge of Christianity? We must look to Paul’s charge to Timothy. Paul tells us that the Hymenæns have “erred with respect to the truth” (2 Tim. 2:18). Erring with regard to the truth means that we have erred about the “truth of the Gospel.” His description of the Hymenæns is not that they have erred with respect to one truth among many Gospel truths. On the contrary, their error is a capital error; the whole truth has been denied.

Their preterist resurrection theology has overthrown the faith of some. This is a powerful indictment. Not merely the faith by which we believe, but The Faith that we believe is defeated, destroyed.

The teachings of the Hymenæns are labeled a “canker,” a gangrene, perhaps a cancer. The Greek word could be a medical word or a word describing oxidation. If the former, then, the church is compared to a living organism. A malignancy or a gangrene can only destroy this organism! Hymenæn theology is a cancer in the living organism of the church.

Hymenæns also make “shipwreck” of the Faith (1 Tim. 1:19). The shipwreck is a religious shipwreck. Hymenænism is not a mere pinhole in the hull of the good ship salvation.

The upshot is that we should not be referring to the disciples of Hymenæus as “beloved brethren,” as “good friends,” as “dear Christian brethren.” They are the enemies of Christ and the enemies of the church. The “sons of the resurrection” should not be taken unawares. Hymenæns who are members in Christian churches should be disciplined for their error, even delivered over to Satan so that they would not blaspheme (1 Tim. 1:20).

If a church unwittingly carries Hymenæn books (such as the Leonards’ The Promise of His Coming, or J. Stuart Russell’s The Parousia), these books should be torched or removed immediately. No church should pray God’s speed on the disciples of Hymenæus. If a church has Hymenæn members, let her admonish or rebuke these subverters at once. We dare not give them the Lord’s Supper. We must not let them get away with calling themselves “preterists” or “consistent preterists,” or believers in “fulfilled eschatology.” The word “preterist” is a good word. The disciples of Hymenæus are not preterists; their “dispensable eschatology” makes them heretics. What is more, they are antichrists; for only the spirit of antichrist says that Jesus Christ did not come in the flesh (1 Jn. 4ff). When we interview new members, we need to question them about Christ’s resurrection and ours. Hymenæns are not our friends; they are the enemies of the cross. If we deny the future resurrection of the body then we deny the resurrection of Christ. And if we deny the resurrection of Christ’s flesh, then we deny his accomplishment on the cross. The design of Christ’s bodily resurrection was to implement His sacrifice on the cross, when He suffered the wrath of God in his body and in his soul. He came to redeem us in body and in soul (Rom. 8:23; 1 Cor. 6:20).

Hymenænism is damnable heresy.

 

THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST by Vurel Vick

(Did It Occur in A. D. 70?)

Down through the ages some have tried to predict when the Lord would come. In the middle of the 19th century, William Miller twice tried to predict the coming of Jesus, and twice he missed it. Then Judge Rutherford had his say, and concluded that Jesus came invisibly in 1914 which the Jehovah’s Witnesses still teach today.

Now it is being taught in a few congregations of the Church, that the second coming transpired in A. D. 70 at the destruction of Jerusalem at which time the following points of major Bible teaching were fulfilled:

  1. THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST.
  2. THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD
  3. THE GENERAL JUDGMENT
  4. THE PERFECTION OF THE KINGDOM
  5. COMPLETE ADOPTION, REDEMPTION AND INHERITANCE
  6. THE END OF THE WORLD
  7. THE NEW HEAVENS AND EARTH
  8. THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST

It is taught that Jesus came invisibly, in power and fulfillment of scripture which relates to His second coming, in the army of Titus when He besieged and destroyed Jerusalem in A. D. 70. Thus a “spiritual” application is made with all the scriptures which refer to it. In taking the liberty to “interpret” the scriptures for us, some say they have it all figured out for us. Literal rather than figurative.

Acts 1: 10-11. ” . . . And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, two men stood by them in white apparel which also said, ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.”

Notice that men were literally looking up into heaven with their eyes, and were told that He is coming in like manner. Some tell us that He came in A. D. 70 and men may see Him with their mind’s eye, if they will only look.

Revelation 1: 7 tells us “Behold he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, amen.” His second coming could not have taken place in A. D. 70, as scholars tell us that the above scripture (the book of Revelation) was written A. D. 81-96. Early writers like Eusebius, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria and Origin, and later writers also, say it was written in the reign of Domitian.

1 Thess. 4: 16 “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout.”

2 Thess. 1: 7-9 “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power, when he shall come to be glorified in his saints . . .”

some questions are in order:

  1. Has he come?
  2. Has he come as he went?
  3. Did he come in A. D. 70 as the second coming?
  4. Did every eye see him?
  5. Did he come with a shout? Who heard him?
  6. Did he come with flaming fire?
  7. Did he take vengeance on those who did not obey the gospel?
  8. If he came in A. D. 70 as some claim, will he take vengeance on those who do not obey the gospel who have lived since then? When and how?
  9. If he came to take vengeance on those unbelieving Jews who were persecuting the Christians in Thessalonica in A. D. 70 by destroying their city, when did he take vengeance on the Gentiles who were also persecuting the Christians there? I Thess. 2: 14 says that the Christians in Thessalonica were suffering things of their own countrymen (Gentiles).
  10. Has Jesus been glorified I his saints? Was he glorified any more after A. D. 70 than he was before?

Some say, “How can every eye see him because the earth is round and if he comes in the air in one area how can those on the other side of the earth see him?” All I have to say is that some have a very small concept of our omnipotent, omnipresent God and their thinking borders on the realm of modernism which is nothing more than rejecting the miraculous and replacing it with were human reasoning. According to Luke 17: 34 it will evidently be night on one side of the earth as he states ” . . . there shall be two men in one bed, the one shall be taken, and the other left . . .” and this indicates it will be day on the other side of the earth as two women will be grinding at the mill, and two men shall be in the field one taken and the other left. Besides all this I Tess. 4: 17 says some will be caught up in the air. According to 2 Cor. 5: 16, Jesus is not coming in the fleshly body; his appearance may well cover all the earth.

A huge effort is put forth to prove the Lord came in A. D. 70 by stressing the words “nigh” James 5: 7-8; and “The time is at hand” Rev. 1: 3.

First, remember that the Lord came many times in providential judgment. Isaiah chapter 13 and Ezekiel 32 are but two example. Another example is found in Revelation 2: 5 where Jesus told the church in Ephesus to repent and do the first works or else I will come unto thee quickly and remove the candlestick out of its place. Likewise we have a very similar saying in regard to the church at Pergamos, Rev. 2: 16 “Repent, or else I will come unto thee quickly and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.” A. D. 70 may have been a providential judgment of the Lord too.

Second, I would much rather let the Apostle Peter explain a word than anyone else, and here is Peter’s explanation to those who thought the coming of the Lord was to appear immediately, and when he did not they asked, ” . . . where is the promise of his coming?” Peter said, ” . . . One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as a day . . .” In view of this it has been only a couple of days with the Lord, and we have reason to believe he is coming. Further, if the second coming of Christ took place in A. D. 70 that was only about four years after Peter wrote his second epistle and his statement of “A thousand years as a day . . .” with the Lord, would have had no significance to them at all.

Peter wrote all of these things anticipating what would happen in times to follow because he stated “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days, (he did not say, these are the last days, and this is happening now) scoffers, walking after their own lusts, (we may have some scoffers around now) and saying where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” We will have somewhat more to say about 2 Peter 3 later.

Phil. 3: 20-21 ” . . . for our conversation is in heaven from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.” Some say the word “body” here refers to the natural, decaying, transitional body of death which existed between A. D. 33-70 while Christianity was being perfected out of Judaism.

To begin with, Jesus took away the old at the cross. Col. 2: 14 “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that were against us, which were contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” Also Hebrews 10: 9 ” . . . He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.”

The scriptures do not teach that the old law (Judaism) remained after the new was begun, so that God might bring out of it the perfected kingdom. Much was written by the inspired men to try to show that old was not valid after the new came. Thus Paul wrote, ” . . . Whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” Gal. 5: 4.

1. THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD

“So man lieth down and riseth not; till the heavens be no more they shall not

awake, nor be raised out of their sleep” Job 14: 12. These words in Job indicate there will be a resurrection when the heavens pass away. But there are those who teach that the resurrection was not to be taken literal and that it was accomplished in A. D. 70 at the destruction of Jerusalem. They say that Jesus came invisibly and raised the Christian system out of the ministration of death, or out of Judaism. Also, if I understand their teaching, they say that Jesus took the righteous dead and moved them from the intermediate state into heaven itself, and at that time he also cast the devil and his angels, the wicked dead, the beast and the false prophets into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone.

You be the judge of this in view of the following scriptures:

John 5: 28-29 “Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation.”

When Jesus calls all forth from the graves will be the time when all who lives and died will be made alive in Christ. I Cor. 15: 22 “For last enemy to be subdued is death and he is to destroy that when he comes and raises all that are in the graves. But, as long as there remains graves with the victims of death in them, and as long as people continue to die, certainly we can see that death has not been destroyed.

Acts 24: 15 Paul said, “And have hope toward God which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.”

Again Acts 26: 8 “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you that God should raise the dead.”

Romans 8: 11 In this passage we read of the resurrection of Christ and we are assured that ” . . . If the spirit of him that raised up Christ from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken (make alive) your mortal (fleshly) bodies by that spirit which dwelleth in you.

I Cor. 15: 23 tells us ” . . . Christ the first-fruits; and afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” Verse 20 says “Christ is risen from the dead and become the first-fruits of them that slept.”

Now the word first-fruit is very important. There is a law of reproduction that we cannot ignore. This law was first stated in Genesis one and repeated there many times. Things reproduce after their kind. Now one cannot deny that Paul was speaking of the literal resurrection of Christ in this chapter and thus since he was bodily raised from the dead, we shall be also.

John adds a bit to this also when he said, “It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we shall be LIKE HIM for we shall see him as he is” I John 3: 2.

While Jesus was in the body upon the earth the Sadducees, who did not believe in a bodily resurrection, came to him trying to trap him and asked, “Whose wife shall she be in the resurrection, for seven men had been married to her one after the other, but each had died?” According to those who do not believe in a bodily resurrection, Jesus should have told them that they were right in not thinking of a bodily resurrection, BUT HE DID NOT! He said to them, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God, for in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven” Matt. 22: 23-33. The very fact that people are still marrying and giving in marriage, shows the resurrection has not come.

2 Tim. 2: 16-18 Here we read of two men who had some “vain babbling” and were saying that the resurrection had already passed. This apparently happened in about 66 A. D. Paul said they had erred from the truth and overthrown the faith of some. Now if the resurrection took place in A. D. 70 as some say, then Paul should have told them to wait a little while – you are a bit too early.

It is difficult to see how anyone can say that the resurrection is passed, and that there will be no resurrection of the dead from their graves. Every where people continue to die. There are thousands and tens of thousands of graves every where you look, and so it is evident that the resurrection has not come, and that death has not been destroyed.

2. THE GENERAL JUDGMENT

It is being taught that the general judgment took place in A. D. 70 at the destruction of Jerusalem. It is said that God vindicated his church and perfected it then. At that time he also took vengeance on the unbelieving Jews and destroyed their city. To them this may be the judgment, but it apparently is not what the Bible teaches about the general judgment. Let it be understood that people are being condemned or justified by their daily response unto truth and opportunity. Further, the Bible apparently teaches that God’s judgment was revealed many times. His providential judgment was seen in Isaiah 13, Eze. 32 and in Rev. 2: 5 etc. We are not dealing with those things, but with the general judgment.

Eccl. 12: 14 “For God shall bring every work into judgment with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Did that happen in A. D. 70? Matt. 11: 21-24 “But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for thee.” God did not bring Sodom into account in A. D. 70 with the Jews when he destroyed Jerusalem. Hebrews 10: 28-29 “He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses; of how much sore punishment, suppose ye shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” if judgment took place in A. D. 70 then there was no sorer punishment, but they simply died as did those who despised Moses’ law. Also, there would be no sorer punishment awaiting those who sin willfully – and no fear for any before God now.

Acts 24: 25 Paul reasoned with Felix ” . . . of judgment to come.”

Hebrews 13: 4 It is stated here that God will judge the whoremongers and the adulterers. Did he do that in A. D. 70 at the destruction of Jerusalem? Of course not, for some are around today who must be judged.

2 Peter 2: 4 states that God has reserved unto judgment the angels that have sinned, and in verse 9 he said that “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.” In this we should notice that punishment came after judgment, and we read in Hebrews 9: 27 “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” We must conclude that the order is: death, judgment and then punishment for the wicked; and death, judgment and a crown of life for the righteous. 2 Tim. 4: 8 Paul said there was a crown of righteousness awaiting him and those who love his appearing.

Rom. 14: 10 “For we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”

2 Cor. 5: 10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done whether it be good or bad.”

Matthew 25: 17 teaches we are now exercising our talents as stewards. This could not be if the judgment is past already.

Acts 17: 31 Paul declared, “He hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men in that he hath raised him from the dead.” Paul was speaking to Gentiles there – were the Gentiles judged in A. D. 70 when Jerusalem was destroyed. They probably were not affected at all.

John the apostle wrote apparently after A. D. 70 and told of seeing the judgment scene. He said, “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it from whose face the earth and the heavens fled away; and there was no place found for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books according to their works.” The evidence is clear – the judgment is to come.

3. THE PERFECTION OF THE KINGDOM

It is taught that the kingdom did not fully exist until A. D. 70, 2 Tim. 4: 1 is used for proof. The idea is that it was begun on Pentecost and perfected in A. D. 70 at the destruction of Jerusalem.

Consider: The kingdom passage found in the Bible before Acts 2, (Pentecost) all refer to the kingdom as yet to come. Then you will notice that all of the references to the kingdom after Acts 2, speak of it as being in existence. Yet to Come: Isa. 2: 2-4; Dan.2: 44; 7: 13-14; Matt. 3: 2; 10: 7; 16: 17-19; Mark 9: 1; Acts 1: 6; Matt. 16: 28.\

Kingdom in existence: Acts 8: 12; Rom. 14: 17; Col. 1: 13; Heb. 12: 28; Rev. 1: 9. Now if all scripture was written before A. D. 70 as they claim – how is it that the above scriptures speak of the kingdom as being already in existence? Let those who believe such give us a scripture written after A. D. (According to their belief) that states that the kingdom came in A. D. 70. As far as that is concerned, let them give us a reference from early historians which declares that the kingdom came in A. D. 70. They cannot, I think. The word kingdom is one of the appellations given to God’s people. There are many different terms used to refer to the same, and each has its own significance. Thus, when the church came, the kingdom came. When the regeneration came, the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched and not man, came also.

Thus we may conclude that the kingdom was established on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ when the power came on the apostles as we learn from Mark 9: 1 and Acts 2. God made it like he wanted it. It was not partly or imperfectly made and later perfected. Jesus was presented with the kingdom when he went to the Ancient of days, and at that time there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him, Dan. 7: 13-15. That was the time that he ascended up on high (Eph. 4: 8-10) and led captivity captive, Psa. 24. That was when the gospel was sent forth into every nation, Matt. 28: 18-20; Acts 1: 6-8. How much more perfect could the kingdom have been after A. D. 70, than it was before?

4. COMPLETE ADOPTION, REDEMPTION AND INHERITANCE

We are told that the above things did not come in their fullness until A. D.70. I

ask that you carefully consider the following:

  1. In A. D. 64 the Christians at Ephesus had been blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, Eph. 1: 3. They had all blessings then, how could they have had any more after A. D. 70?
  2. In A. D. 64 they had redemption. Eph. 1: 7 “In whom we have redemption, through his blood . . .” How could they have had any more after A. D. 70?
  3. In A. D. 64 the Ephesians had obtained their inheritance. “In whom we also have obtained an inheritance, Chapter 1 verse 11.

The church began in A. D. 33 and these blessings were given to the members.

They had forgiveness of sins also. Col. 1: 14, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.”

These blessings were just as complete as they will ever be upon this earth. When Jesus comes Christians will be glorified with him, Col. 3: 1-4.

1. THE END OF THE WORLD

According to those who teach the A. D. 70 doctrine, the end of the world came

in A. D. 70. It was not the end of this literal world that we live in, as you know, but it was the end of Judaism. Thus all scriptures that deal with eschatology relate to the end of Judaism as set forth in the destruction of Jerusalem, they say.

Surely we know that the word “world” is used in different ways in the Bible, so that is not the question. The question is, does the Bible speak of the end of this earth and the heavens or heavenly bodies? They say no. I would ask them this, what if this earth does end; as scientists say it must slow down in its orbit and eventually be destroyed, would it not cause a great catastrophe, and would not people perish from off the earth? We know that this would be the case and so it would be a literal fulfilling of 2 Peter chapter 3. A more detailed study of this subject is set forth in another tract on a related subject.

2. THE NEW HEAVENS AND EARTH

Those who believe that the world ended in A. D. 70, naturally would believe

that the new heavens and earth are not literal either. They say this term found in 2 Peter 3 and in Rev. 21, refers to the Christian age and we are living in it now as Christians. What of the former things that are to pass away? Rev. 21: 4 Things like death, sorrow, pain and tears? They are still with us and we can not deny that. But more on this great subject in another tract.

PREPARE FOR HIS COMING

People now have the opportunity to believe in Christ and let their faith become a motive to move them to repent and express their faith and be baptized for the remission of sins that they thus may make the preparations to meet the Lord when he comes again. This old world will end and “The end of all flesh” will again come as God stated in Gen. 6 when he was to send the flood. “Be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not; the Son of man cometh” Matt. 24: 44.

 

THE COMINGS OF THE LORD by Vurel Vick

(Did The 2nd Coming Occur in A. D. 70?)

 

THE PRESENCE OF THE GODHEAD UPON EARTH

We usually think of the Godhead as being in heaven. Heaven is spoken of as being above and separate from the earth. However, the Bible present God, the Word, (later known as the Son) and the Holy Spirit to the human race upon the earth at many times.

The Word was present in the creation (John 1: 1-3, 14). The Spirit was there, as we read that the Spirit moved upon the face of the waters. God was there as we see in the words, “And God said . . .” Then we find God in the garden walking and talking with Adam and Eve. It is evident that the three of the Godhead were present because of the words ” . . .Let us make man . . .” In Gen. 1-3, the Bible depicts God talking with people upon earth, many times passing judgment and executing his wrath. In view of this we would expect to find the Godhead (including Christ) appearing upon earth at various times.

THE GODHEAD PRESENT IN THE DAYS OF NOAH

In Genesis 6 we read of God observing the wickedness of man upon the earth. We also read of the Spirit – “My Spirit shall not always strive with man . . .” Christ was apparently present there too, as we read in I Peter 3: 18-20, “For Christ hath also once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; which sometime were disobedient when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water . . .”

CHRIST PRESENT IN THE WILDERNESS

Since the Godhead is principally in heaven, Christ must have come to the children of Israel in a figurative way during the time of the deliverance of Israel from Egypt. He must have been present in their wanderings as Paul wrote in I Cor. 10: 4, “And did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.”

GOD’S POWER MANIFESTED IN BABYLON

“Behold, the day of the Lord cometh” Isa. 13: 9. “They come from a far country, from the end of heaven, even the Lord, and the weapons of his indignation to destroy the whole land” Isa. 13: 5. “Therefore will I shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove all of her place . . .” Isa. 13: 13. Then in verse 10 he speaks of the sun being darkened and the moon not shining etc. All of this is spoken about the destruction of Babylon when God’s wrath was poured out upon it. Did he come? Surely he did in power and providence just like he said he would. There you have a coming of the Lord.

THE LORD CAME AGAINST EGYPT

We read in Ezekiel 30 of the impending doom of Egypt. In verse two it says, “For the day is near, even the day of the Lord is near . . .” Then in chapter 32 we find a similar message to that given about the destruction of Babylon. The Lord said he would make the land of Egypt desolate – verse 15, and in verse 7 he said he would make the stars dark and cover the sun, and the moon would not give her light. Did the Lord come? Yes he surely did.

THE LORD CAME IN THE FLESH

Next, we know that the Lord came physically and literally in the flesh. He was begotten of the Spirit, Luke 1: 35; born of a virgin, Isa. 7: 14 and Matt. 1: 21, and rightfully called the Son of God. Here we have the Word in the flesh. John 1: 14, He was in a body of his own. Previously he had been present in the creation, in the days of Noah, etc. but then he was upon earth in a body having come of the seed of the woman, Gen. 3: 15. Some find it difficult to believe in a virgin birth. I think that God presented only a small portion of his great power in the virgin birth. Consider the power that it took to create this great big universe. Which is the larger miracle, placing the Word in a human body, or creating the heavens and the earth? The Lord Jesus has come in the flesh, and all had better believe it. “Except ye believe that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” John 8: 24. “He that believeth not shall be condemned.” Mark 16: 16.

CHRIST CAME TO HIS APOSTLES

After Jesus was raised from the dead, he ascended up into heaven as human eyes saw him go up. But while on earth he told his disciples that he was going away and that he would send the comforter to them. This he said in speaking of the Holy Spirit which he would send to them. Then he makes a statement that makes us realize that truly the Godhead is one – “I will not leave you comfortless, I will come unto you” John 14: 18. Immediately before he ascended he told them that they should receive power, after that the Holy Spirit had come upon them – Acts 1: 8 Then they were to be witnesses unto him in all the world. He further told them to tarry in the city of Jerusalem until they received the power. This they did, and on the first Pentecost after his resurrection the power came, the Spirit came and the Lord came as we see recorded in Acts chapter 2. He had said to them as he gave command to go teach all nations, “And Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” Matt. 28: 18-20. Did he come? Yes he did, the apostle John said so – “We know that the Son of God has come (NEB) and given us understanding; indeed we are in him . . .” I John 5: 20.

CHRIST CAME IN HIS KINGDOM

The message of John and the disciples of Jesus while he was upon the earth in the body was, “The kingdom is at hand” Matt. 3: 2; 4: 17. “There be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power” Mark 9: 1. Matthew’s account adds something that is very important – “There be some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom” Matt. 16: 28. Notice the following:

  1. The kingdom was to come in the lifetime of some of those who heard Jesus that day, Mark 9:1.
  2. The kingdom was to come with power, Mark 9:1.
  3. The Son of man was to come in his kingdom, Matt. 16: 28.
  4. Some would live to see the Lord come in his kingdom with power. Now remember that Acts 1: 8 says that “Ye (apostles) shall receive power after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you and you shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

We may conclude then that Jesus came on Pentecost when the power came with promised Holy Spirit, and thus the kingdom came as all scriptures prior to Acts 2 speak of the kingdom as yet to come, and all scriptures after Acts 2 speak of it as in existence. Pentecost was the time that the word was sent forth from Jerusalem Isa. 2: 1-3. Jesus had promised to build his church, and then uses the words, church and kingdom, interchangeably, all of which is found recorded in Matthew 16; and in Acts 2 we see the fulfillment of that promise. The regeneration had begun. The apostles were given an exalted place of authority sitting on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel in a sense Matt. 16: 19 and 19: 28. Yes Jesus came as king of kings, as both Lord and Christ (Acts 2: 36). He came in his kingdom with the power of salvation to “whosoever will.” He came in the gospel message which was destined to go into all the world, Mark 16: 15-16. “Go into all the world and preach the gospel unto every creature; he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” He came in the Spirit to dwell in every one of his true followers.

CHRIST COMES TO CHRISTIANS

“Christ in you the hope of glory,” wrote the apostle Paul in Col. 1: 27. Again, in Matt. 18: 20 we find: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” Eph. 3: 17. “If any man have not the spirit of Christ he is none of his” Rom. 8: 9. “And if Christ be in you the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness,” verse 10. These scriptures show that the Christians can expect the Lord Jesus to come to them, and if you have Christ in you, you have the Holy Spirit, Acts 2: 38 and 5: 32. He is promised to all that obey. Then, surely we must conclude that if you are godly, it is because you have God in your heart, and have been made partakers of the divine nature, 2 Peter 1: 4. It is wonderful to know that we have Christ because ” . . .if the spirit of him who raised up Christ from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by that spirit which dwelleth in you” Rom. 8: 11.

JESUS CAME TO PAUL

Jesus came to Paul on the road to Damascus. He had to see as a risen Lord and be sent by the Lord himself in order to be an apostle, Acts 9: 5; 22: 8; 26: 18. Paul said the Lord had appeared to him. In Gal. 1: 12 Paul indicated that Jesus had revealed his will to him. So we have another coming of the Lord.

JESUS CAME IN THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM

Just as the Lord came against Babylon and Egypt of old, so we have a providential judgment passed upon Jerusalem. God had so ordained that the gospel was to be preached to the Jew first and also to the Greek, Rom. 1: 16. Further God gave the Jews ample time to hear and obey the gospel. For about 37 years God had sent forth the message – first to the Jews. During this time his inspired apostles taught by word and epistle, that the old was not to be followed any longer. It had been nailed to the cross – taken out of the way. Now, the words of prophecy spoken by the Lord would be fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem, Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21. This apparently happened in A. D. 70. No longer did the temple stand. The city was laid waste. The records were destroyed and Judaism had received a blow from which it has never recovered. This was a coming of judgment just as many others were. We read in Rev. 2: 5, “Repent . . . or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place . . .” This was the word to the church at Ephesus. We have a very similar message to the church at Pergamos. Rev. 2: 16, “Repent, or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.” Those were threats of the Lord to come in judgment if they did not repent, and did not refer to A. D. 70.

We can gather from all of this that the Lord has come in many ways and many times. The destruction of Jerusalem is just one of many. Some in a few congregations of the church are putting far too much emphasis on this and are teaching that all scriptures were fulfilled then and that the Lord is not coming again. They say that was his second coming. In trying to make the destruction of Jerusalem the second coming they misapply many scriptures and do great injustice to the meaning of words. Since they believe that all must be fulfilled there, they must twist, warp, misapply, misinterpret and change any and every scripture and word, that does not fit into their theory.

Here are only a few of the scriptures which we believe they misuse:

  1. The second coming of Christ took place in A. D. 70 they say, and so here is a list of all the scriptures they misuse and must say are all fulfilled then. Acts 1: 9-11; Rev. 1: 7; Heb. 9: 28; John 14: 1-3; I Thess. 4: 13-18; 2 Thess. 2: 7-9; I Pet. 1: 13; 2 Pet. 3: 3-13; 2 Tim. 4: 1-4, 8; Matt. 24: 36-51; 25: 31-46.
  2. The resurrection of the dead: They further must teach that all of these scriptures were fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem in A. D. 70. Acts 24: 15; Romans 8: 11; Matt. 22: 23-33; John 6: 39; 5: 28-29; 11: 23; 12: 48; Acts 4: 1; 17: 18, 32; 23: 6, 8; I or. 6: 14; Phil. 3: 10-11, 20-21; Heb. 11: 35; Rev. 20: 13.
  3. All of the following judgment passages they must say have been fulfilled in A. D. 70. Psa. 96: 13; Eccl. 12: 14; Matt. 3: 12; 7: 22-23; 8: 29; 2 Pet. 2: 4; Matt. 12: 36; 13: 30; Luke 11: 31-32; Matt. 13: 41-42, 50; 16: 27; John 12: 48; Acts 10: 42; 17: 31; 24: 25; Romans 2: 5; 14: 10; I Cor. 3: 13; 5: 10, 2; 2Tim. 4: 1-3; Heb. 9: 27; 10: 27; I Pet. 4: 5; 2 Pet. 2: 4; 3: 7-12; I John 4: 17; Rev. 20: 11. Can you imagine all of these scriptures being fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem? I do hope you will find out what each of these scriptures say and then judge for yourself whether you believe they were, or even could have been fulfilled in A. D. 70. But there are more to follow:
  4. The End of the World: Judge for yourselves; did you believe these passages were all referring to the end of Judaism? Psa. 102: 25-27; Isa. 51: 6; 24: 19-20; Matt. 5: 18; 24: 3; 2 Pet. 3: 3-13; Heb. 12: 26-27; Rev. 10: 6; 21: 1.
  5. Other scriptures which they say were fulfilled in A. D. 70: 2 Cor. 5: 1-4; In this passage they teach that the earthly house was Judaism and that the house from above is Christianity. It is very evident that Paul was talking about our earthly bodies which we hope to exchange for the heavenly. I John 2: 15-17 which they say was written before A. D. 70, (but it apparently was not written until A. D. 80 or after) in which John says, “Love not the world (they say that means the world of Judaism) neither the things that are in the world . . .” Judge for yourselves.

None of the above scriptures can refer to anything in the future according to Those who teach that the Lord came for the second and final coming in A. D. 70. Makes you wonder what they use to teach God is going to punish the wicked and disobedient, doesn’t it?

JESUS IS COMING AGAIN

The second coming of Christ is yet to be. It will be just as literal in one sense of the word, as the first coming when he came in the flesh. Just as real and literal in the sense that every eye shall see him, they also that pierced him . . . Of course he will not come in the flesh, and he will not literally walk on the earth as he did, but marvelous things will happen when he comes and here is what some of the scriptures evidently teach about his second coming: Acts 1: 9-11; Rev. 1: 7; The second coming: will literally be seen by every eye. I Thess. 4: 13-18; Jesus will come with a shout, and all that are in the graves shall hear his voice and shall come forth, they that have done good unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation. John 5: 28-29.

2 Thess. 1: 7-9, “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power, when he shall come to be glorified in his saints . . .”

2 Peter 3: 10-14, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace without spot and blameless . . .”

Phil. 3: 20-21; “For our conversation is in heaven from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change out vile body that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.”

Acts 2: 33, 36; Jesus is now reigning at the right hand of God as both Lord and Christ. Heb. 1: 3 also states the same. He must reign until he hath put all enemies under his feet, and the last enemy to be destroyed is death, and when he comes with a shout and all in the graves hear his voice and come forth will be the time that he will deliever up the kingdom to God and be in subjection unto the Father also, Read I Cor. 15: 19-28. John 5: 28-29 shows the righteous shall be raised unto life. Matt. 25: 46 shows that the wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal. 2 Peter 3: 13 speaks of a new creation, and Rev. 21 does also.

CONCLUSION

It is evident that the Lord came many times in various ways and certainly in providential judgment upon many nations including the Children of Israel. Thus, the destruction of Jerusalem may have been a coming of the Lord in providential judgment. However, those who say that was the second coming of the Lord, disregard the plain teaching of many scriptures, and twist them to make them fit their belief, and are deceiving many, and much harm is being done. Congregations are being split, new born babes have been confused and have fallen by the wayside; prospective members of the church have been turned off; hard feelings have sprung up between those who once loved each other dearly; even homes have suffered because of the innovation of this A. D. 70 doctrine which has not really been taught at large, if to any extent, for some 1900 years plus.

Let those who believe that all of the scriptures relating to the second coming were fulfilled in A. D. 70, come forth with words of early writers and historians which affirm and confirm the momentous things they say took place. We are aware of what Josephus wrote, but I am talking about the early church fathers and others of secular history. Where is the record of early Christians who tell us that the Lord’s second coming took place in A. D. 70 at the destruction of Jerusalem? Where are those who declared, like those of old, “This is that which was spoken of the Lord” etc. Surely, if all of those wonderful things which we have shown must come to pass at the second coming of the Lord, happened in A. D. 70, the record of such would fill hundreds and even thousands of pages in the books of history – but, they do not. Jesus is coming again! Let us be ready!

 

WHY IT IS PERFECTLY OKAY TO CALL HERETICAL PRETERISTS NAUGHTY NAMES – Dan Trotter

“Naughty Names”
by Dan Trotter

Why it is Perfectly Okay to Call Heretical Preterists Naughty Names

I was recently taken aback when I discovered that an heretical preterist that I knew decided not to attend the annual Southern House Church Conference that I help sponsor, because I had told him via email that he was “gangrenous”. I thought to myself, how could I, the meek, mild, gentle, wimpy, Clark-Kentish Dan Trotter have ever said something that bad about anyone? Four days later I had a flash: I was applying to my full preterist correspondent one of the same terms that Paul had applied to the heretical preterists of his day. Let me quote the words of the inspired apostle: “and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place… (2 Tim 2:17,18a)” When I realized I had apostolic precedent, I immediately felt better about my rhetorical intemperance. In fact, what I said about heretical preterists was positively mild in comparison with what Paul said about the ancient hyperpreterists: he called them blasphemers (I Tim 1:20), he said they had rejected their faith (I Tim 1:19), they had rejected a good conscience (I Tim 1:19), they had shipwrecked their faith (I Tim 1:19), he handed them over to Satan (I Tim 1:20), he called them vain and profane babblers (II Tim 2:16), he said they were ungodly (II Tim 2:16), he said they had gone astray from the truth (II Tim 2:18), and he said that they were upsetting the faith of Christians (II Tim 2:18).

Now, I dare say if I would apply the aforementioned epithets to a modern day Hymenean, I would hear some variation of the following: “Brother, you’re not showing love. This is just a minor dispute about the timing of certain eschatological events.” I would respond to this by not only appealing to Paul, but also to Tina Turner: “What’s love got to do with this?” “Love” is the first word out of the mouth of someone about to lose a theological argument. If someone dumps a load of horse-patookey into my living room, I’m not going to tell him how much I love him. I am going to request of him in no uncertain terms to shovel the stuff out.

Hyperpreterists, of course, don’t like the strictures Paul used against Hymenaeus and Philetus to be used against them, and have gone to great lengths to disassociate themselves from the gangrenous teachings of those two heretics. Heretical preterists have a good deal of trouble doing this, because Hymenaeus and Philetus believed back then exactly what the hyperpreterists believe now: the resurrection of the dead has already occurred. So how do the heretical preterists try to make their case? I am going to lay out their case, and then show you beyond cavil that their case is patently absurd. Once I have done that, I will feel perfectly free in good conscience to end this article by adding some other choice labels to our present day heretical preterists, namely: quasi-gnostic, quasi-manichean, and quasi-liberal.

So, how do the hyperpreterists disassociate themselves from Hymenaeus and Philetus? They do it by trying to argue that Paul was disagreeing with those two, not over the NATURE of the resurrection, but rather, over its TIMING. As we shall see, this is impossible: Paul was upset with Hymenaeus because of Hymenaeus’ view of the NATURE of the resurrection. Paul believed in the physical resurrection of the body (Rom 8:23; Phil 3:21; I Cor 15:20,23,44,52; I Thess 4:16) and Hymenaeus and Philetus did not believe in a physical resurrection of the body, and so Paul anathematized them.

This is how the heretical preterists argue that the disagreement between Paul and Hymenaeus was over the timing of the resurrection, not its nature. First, they point out (correctly) that Hymenaeus was not arguing that a physical resurrection had already occurred. If the argument were that, all Paul would have to do to refute it would be to point out that all the graves around them had bodies in them, therefore no physical resurrection had occurred. Nobody would be dumb enough to assert such an easily-refuted proposition, and no one would be dumb enough to believe it. Therefore, if Hymenaeus didn’t believe that a physical resurrection had already occurred, he must have believed in something else, probably that a spiritual resurrection of some sort had occurred in the heavenlies, which is what the heretical preterists of today believe, and which is what hyperpreterists assert that Paul believed. So, if Hymenaeus believed in a spiritual resurrection, and Paul believed in a spiritual resurrection, Paul couldn’t be upset with Hymenaeus over that, and therefore, he had to be upset only over the timing of the resurrection.

There are two ways to proceed here to prove the hyperpreterists wrong. One would be to point out the numerous Scriptures which easily prove that Paul, in fact, did believe in a physical resurrection, and therefore his disagreement with Hymenaeus was over the nature, not the timing, of the resurrection. This is easy enough to do, and I have done so on a sound recording you can listen to by clicking here: [this link will be available soon] The second way to show that the dispute with Hymenaeus was over the nature of the resurrection, and not its timing, is to grant the hyperpreterists’ premise arguendo, namely that Paul believed in a spiritual resurrection just like Hymenaeus believed, and that the dispute was thus over the timing of the resurrection, not its nature, and then proceed from there to show that this hyperpreterist argument is absurd on its own premises. We’ll do that next.

On hyperpreterist assumptions, the most disagreement that Paul and Hymenaeus could have over timing is approximately forty years. Paul’s view of timing would be governed by Jesus’ words in the Olivet Discourse, in which Jesus said that “this generation” would not pass away until “all these things” previously referred to had taken place (Mt 24:34), one of which was Jesus’ “coming” (Mt 24:27,30). Now, Jesus’ “coming” is intimately associated with the resurrection. This can be seen in such verses as I Cor 15:23 “But each [are resurrected] in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His COMING.” Also, I Thess 4:15 (cf. v.17): “…we who are alive and remain until the COMING of the Lord will not precede [in resurrection] those who have fallen asleep.” Now, if Jesus’ coming was within one generation of when Jesus spoke, and if the resurrection of the dead occurred at Jesus’ coming, therefore the resurrection was also within one generation of when Jesus spoke (on hyperpreterist assumptions). If Jesus spoke around A.D. 30, and a generation is roughly forty years, then the resurrection of the dead (again, on hyperpreterist assumptions) would be around AD 70. This is when Paul would be expecting the coming of Jesus, and the associated resurrection of the just and the unjust (again, granting the hyperpreterists their premises).

If Paul was expecting the resurrection around AD 70, how did Hymenaeus time the resurrection? At the time Paul wrote II Timothy (mid sixties), Hymenaeus believed that the resurrection had “already” come. The earliest that the resurrection could logically be thought by Hymenaeus to have occurred would be the instant after Jesus had returned to heaven. This is so because, Jesus could not have “come” from heaven and caused the resurrection, unless he had first gone to heaven. So the earliest date that Hymenaeus could have possibly taught that the resurrection had occurred is the date that Jesus ascended, which is approximately A.D. 30, which is the date the majority of scholars assign to Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. And now we compare Paul’s view of the timing of the resurrection, with Hymenaeus’s view of the timing of the resurrection, so we can get a feel for the great, burning controversy that caused Paul to get himself all bent out of shape, and which caused him to label Hymenaeus and Philetus blasphemous, gangrenous, faith-shipwrecked, and consigned to Satan. Paul’s view: A.D. 70. Hymenaeus’s view (at the max): A.D. 30. The difference? A whopping forty years. FORTY YEARS!!!! And for that, Paul is going to send these guys to hell? For forty years? PUH-LEEZE!! If anyone reading this believes that, please email me, so I can show you some great oceanfront property in Arizona I want to sell you.

So, if the dispute between Paul and Hymenaeus can’t be over the TIMING of the resurrection as the heretical preterists so foolishly allege, then that leaves only one option for the subject of the dispute, namely, the NATURE of the resurrection. Paul believed in the physical resurrection, just as scadzillions of Christians through the millennia have believed. Hymenaeus didn’t believe in a physical resurrection, and that’s why Paul was so upset with him and his friends.

The heretical preterists often counter the assertion that they are Hymeneans by pointing out that, although they are claiming the resurrection has already come, as did the Hymeneans, they are different than the Hymeneans, in this one respect: the hyperpreterists are making their claim that the resurrection already happened POST- A.D. 70, whereas Hymenaeus and friends were making their identical claim PRE- A.D. 70. The hyperpreterists then say: see, Hymenaeus was wrong, because, indeed, when Hymenaeus made the claim, in fact, the resurrection hadn’t occurred yet (because they made the claim pre- A.D. 70), but when we full preterists make the claim today, we are perfectly correct in saying the resurrection has already occurred, because it indeed has already occurred, in A.D. 70. This is typical of the slick rhetorical tricks heretical preterists like to use. The reader will notice that the logic I’ve given above pierces their buncombe. That the heretical preterists (given their premises) are right about the timing of the resurrection, and that the ancient Hymenaeans were wrong about the timing of the resurrection, is absolutely irrelevant to Paul’ anger and condemnation of Hymenaeus and company. Paul could not have possibly gotten that upset over a few decades worth of difference in timing between himself and Hymenaeus. What he was upset about was that in saying that the resurrection had already come, Hymenaeus was also saying that there wasn’t going to be another one, which sent Paul ballistic, which sends me ballistic, and which ought to get you pretty riled up, too.

I should point out here that there is another possible way to analyze the controversy between Paul and Hymenaeus, which, however, still leaves the heretical preterists in trouble. I take this argument from Jonathan Seriah’s The End of All Things, p. 158. This argument assumes that the controversy between Paul and Hymenaeus was not over timing (impossible, as we’ve seen above), but it also assumes that Paul and Hymenaeus weren’t disagreeing over the nature of the resurrection either. Says Seraiah, Hymenaeus was referring to the events recorded in Mt 27:52-53 when he says the resurrection already occurred. Those verses say that, about the time of Jesus’ resurrection, “the tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.” Therefore, on Seraiah’s view, Hymenaeus agreed with Paul that the resurrection of the saints was a physical one, but he disagreed with Paul concerning the extent of the resurrection. Hymenaeus believed that those few that were raised at Jesus’ crucifixion were all that were ever going to be resurrected. The rest of Christendom were going to have their bodies rot in the graves. On the contrary, Paul believed that all the rest of the believers would be raised (physically) at the last day. One will immediately discern that on this view, the hyperpreterists are still at odds with Paul: Paul believes in a physical resurrection of a believer’s body, and he is upset with Hymenaeus, who, like the heretical preterists, does NOT believe in a physical resurrection of (the great majority of) believers’ bodies. Seriah’s view is perfectly plausible, but I like the argumentation I used earlier to crumple the heretical preterists’ position. I like it better because, by assuming the hyperpreterists’ premises, and showing that their conclusions aren’t internally consistent, one doesn’t have to argue over whether Hymenaeus was referring to Mt 27:52-53 or not.

I want to note here that, having seen that the Hymeneans were preaching the same thing the heretical preterists preach today, many will still attempt to let today’s hyperpreterists off the hook by distinguishing the heretical preterists from the Hymeneans on the basis of their persons, since their theology can’t be distinguished. It is said that Paul was speaking against non-believing heretics, whereas, even though the hyperpreterists are preaching heretical doctrine, they themselves are believers, and therefore we should treat them less harshly than Paul dealt with Hymenaeus. This, of course, is a classical ad hominem argument. Just as it is difficult to defend the truth of the existence of charismatic gifts in the church today because of all the crazy things charismatics say and do, it is equally difficult to attack the heresy of a hyperpreterist who does works of tender love and mercy. So why am I so presumptive to do so?

First, let me point out that it is an unproved assumption that the Hymeneans that Paul attacked were unsaved. In the long history of doctrine, there have been a lot of believers who have believed crazy things. Hymenaeus and Philetus could very well have been the first in a long line of believers in Christ who also believed heretical doctrines. This is especially true if Hymenaeus, when he said the resurrection had already come, was referring to the first-fruits resurrection that happened at Jesus’ resurrection. A person who believed this would probably be a believer. And if it be said that if Hymenaeus were preaching a non-physical spiritual resurrection, and therefore he couldn’t have been a believer, all I need to do is point out that present-day hyperpreterist Hymenaeans do the same thing, and they are believers. Therefore, it is perfectly possible, and perhaps likely, that Paul was denouncing fellow believers. But that’s besides the point. Paul was concerned about the effect the DOCTRINE was having on his flock. He wasn’t on a personal vendetta against Hymenaeus and Philetus. He was concerned about the truth, not about winning a personal battle. If we keep our battle against the heretical preterists on that plane, I don’t see why anyone should have reason to complain.

Now that we have established that the heretical preterists’ views are just as damnable as were those of Hymenaeus and Philetus, that leaves us in the happy position of being able to say things about the hyperpreterists at least as naughty as Paul did. I hesitate to do that, because I am a Southern American, and my culture drills into us that we are oh so polite, in each and every circumstance. If our neighbors come to visit us with their kids, and the little hellions draw all over the walls with crayons, poop on the carpet, and grab the cat by the tail and smash his head up side the wall, we hang around by the door for a half hour while we wait for them to leave, telling them what a great time we had, and would they please come back and see us some time. I would like to burst through my cultural limitations and bluntly hang a few choice epithets on the heretical preterists.

First of all, they are quasi-gnostic. Why? For two reasons. The first is that they don’t believe the physical body, or the physical world, is important enough to be redeemed from its physical corruption. The heretical preterists aren’t completely gnostic, because they do believe the body was created good, and that it shouldn’t be abused with licentiousness, and that it shouldn’t be damaged with asceticism. Thank God for small favors.

The second reason the hyperpreterists are quasi-gnostics is that they believe that their full-preterist gnosis has been hidden from the whole Christian community for two millennia, and that only they have seen the light, starting, I suppose, with James Stuart Russell in the late nineteenth century. The rest of benighted Christendom has missed it. That’s the talk of dispensationalists and crazy people. Now, as someone who holds to house church ecclesiology, I am fully aware that a hyperpreterist could level the same charge at me. He could say that since I am in such a small minority, and since hardly anybody sees what I’m doing as the truth, and since I am claiming to have seen the light concerning the church, therefore I am as gnostic as the hyperpreterists. Well, no I’m not. There have been tons of Christians over the ages who have believed as I do about the doctrine of the church. For example, the entire early church up until the fourth century. For example, the Waldensians. How about the biggest church in the world today, the church in China? In fact, there are so many people who have believed the way I do about church, that John Kennedy has written an entire book about them: The Torch of the Testimony. But consider heretical preterism: over the long course of church history before James Stuart Russell in the late nineteenth century, who has believed this nonsense? Nobody.

The second naughty name which I apply to the consistently foolish preterists is quasi-manichean. The original Manicheans believed that evil existed coeternally with the good. The hyperpreterist quasi-manicheans, unlike the Manicheans, believe that there was no evil present with God at the beginning. However, like the Manicheans, the heretical preterists believe that from now on, evil will always be here. The physical creation, including our bodies, will never be redeemed from it. How depressing.

Naughty name number three: quasi-liberal. In my mind, there is almost nothing worse than “liberal” that you can call somebody. Whether its politics or religion, the liberal operates from the dark side. Granted, the heretical preterists differ from liberals in some areas. Hyperpreterists believe in the Virgin Birth, the inerrancy of Scripture, the physical resurrection of Jesus, etc. But notice how many beliefs they have in common with theological liberals: (1) no visible return of Jesus, (2) no physical resurrection of the believer, (3) no Judgment Day at the end of the world, (4) the world will go on forever and ever until it peters out, (5) the devil is not active today in the world, and (6) the miraculous is not active today in the church. And what makes the heretical preterists’ quasi-liberalism even worse is that they spend hours and hours dinning our ears with the very doctrines that the liberals love. I am convinced that what really motivates the hyperpreterist is not the love of the truth, but the fear of the (divine) supernatural. Heretical preterists are usually highly intelligent rationalists who wouldn’t believe a miracle if it happened right in front of their eyes. And incidentally, to call them highly intelligent is not a compliment. The sleazy lawyers that sprung O.J. Simpson were highly intelligent, too. They had to be: they were defending a guilty client.

Ladies and gentlemen, the heretical preterists have denied the historic Christian faith in its essence. Their doctrine is poison. Stay away from it.

Hope: The Incentive To Persevere – Ed Tarkowski

STAND & COMFORT Newsletter
Email NEWSLETTER #32 (Vol 2 No 17)
By Ed Tarkowski

PART 4: HOPE: THE INCENTIVE TO PERSEVERE

Because of all that Christ has done and the Holy Spirit is now doing in the believer, we stand in the reality of salvation as a free gift by faith. Inherent in that faith is faith’s goal: the fulfillment of our God-given, Christ-centered hope. Faith is what will get us to the time when the hope is fully manifested. Faith is what causes us to patiently endure trials and tribulations and the disciplines of God as he prepares a people in whom He can fully manifest the hope He has given them:

 

Rom 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

The word “experience” in verse 4 means “proof,” as in this verse:

 

Phil 2:22 But ye know the proof of him (Timothy), that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.

“Experience” is the experiential evidence that one has really believed through grace. After we first believe, we believe in God’s abiding presence in our lives. Then come the trials to test that faith, to show our faith in Him is real. Though the word “experience” is not used in the following verses, 2 Thessalonians 1 depicts the proving of the Christian:

 

2 Th 1:3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;
4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:
5 Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:

Paul says, “your patience and faith . . . [are] a manifest token (G1730. endeigma, an indication [manifest token]).” In other words, in the midst of trials and tribulations, their patience and faith in defense and proclamation of the gospel was “an indication” that their faith was real and that God approved of their efforts. In the next verses, he goes on to describe Christ’s second coming to glorify them and all the saints who are counted worthy of the kingdom of God. In his previous letter to the Thessalonians, Paul had acknowledged that their patience under these circumstances was based on the hope of the gospel:

 

1 Th 1:3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

The author of Hebrews mentions these same attributes of faith, patience, and hope:

 

Heb 6:9 But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.
10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
11 And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:
12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

In Romans 12, Paul names all kinds of ways Christians should walk in God’s will, and in the middle of them, he says,

 

Rom 12:12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

Along with these is constant reliance on the word of God:

 

Rom 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

Tribulation, patience, experience/proof, hope. When our faith is active towards these four things, we can be sure we are approved of God and can look forward to the hope that will be realized in us at the return of Christ. Therefore, it is written,

 

1 Cor 9:10 Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.

Because the plowing and threshing are in regard to the gospel, these bring the trials and tribulations, the works God has prepared for us in advance (Ephesians 2:10). But God does not leave us alone in the trials that come our way:

 

2 Th 2:16 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,
17 Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.

It is in trials that the Christian proves himself. Along with Paul, Peter also encouraged us to not fear, but be ready to tell others the reason we have hope:

 

1 Pet 3:14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;
15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

Paul stated his own attitude toward serving God for the gospel’s sake:

 

Phil 1:20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.

Paul and Peter tell us more of this hope in the following verses:

 

Col 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

 

1 Pet 1:13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

Writing to the Corinthians, Paul emphasized the power of our hope, that it is a hope that points to eternity and not just to the things of this world:

 

1 Cor 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

He is referring here to the crucial importance of the resurrection. Paul had suffered much persecution for defending his belief in the resurrection contained within the gospel. He says that if the resurrection weren’t true, then the Christian is the most pitiable of all creatures for he is still without hope, yet suffers for his stand. But he believed it and he stood in its hope, warning others not to be moved away from that hope:

 

Col 1:23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

The writer to the Hebrews encouraged the same:

 

Heb 3:6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

Paul said this hope of salvation is our helmet, which protects our minds against doubts and deceptive hopes that would move us away from the one hope God has given us:

 

1 Th 5:8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

Yes, the Christian has hope for a total redemption, and it is not in doubt. It is a sure hope and will manifest when Jesus returns in the glory and power of the Father to redeem the bodies of all the saints and to pour out wrath on those who refused the hope and instead persecuted God’s people. Therefore, let us do as Paul encouraged us to do in the Scriptures:

 

Acts 24:15 And have hope toward God, which they [the law and the prophets] themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.
16 And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.

 

Is Our Hope Important to Eschatology? – Ed Tarkowski

STAND & COMFORT Newsletter
Email NEWSLETTER #31 (Vol 2 No 16)
By Ed Tarkowski

PART 3: IS OUR HOPE IMPORTANT TO ESCHATOLOGY?

OPENING REMARKS

What is happening in the Church today is that, instead of people doing serious study of God’s word to come to one mind about the end times, many are content to live with division, contention, distortions, and confusion. To make matters worse, the “NEW” doctrines that have arisen add even more confusion to this and the other things of God.

This newsletter contains some lists of basic truths. I don’t want you to think I included them because I believe you’re ignorant of the hope we have in Christ, or so immature that you need these simple outlines. BUT in the light of the disruptions in the Church, I do find it necessary to state things in a clear, simple way for those who are seeking God for the simplicity of His word.

THE GOSPEL CONTAINS THE HOPE OF A TOTAL SALVATION

Jesus Christ will come again and fulfill the hope of the gospel that God has given believers: at His return, we will experience resurrection from the dead, or if alive, be changed to be like Him. Because He alone can do this, He is our hope:

 

1 Pet 1:13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

I have heard discussions in which people say that the hope of Christ’s second coming, and all that it includes, is not as important as the basics of the gospel described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:2-4. But Paul continues on in this same chapter to stress the importance of the resurrection as it relates to the hope of the believer. Scripture overwhelmingly calls the time of His coming and how it affects the believer “the hope of the Church.” In previous parts of this series, I wrote about these things:

1. The death of Christ was necessary for there to be a resurrection.

2. The resurrection was necessary to His being able to ascend to the Father.

3. The ascension was necessary to His being glorified.

4. His being glorified was necessary to the sending of the Holy Spirit and to His returning in the power and glory of the Father.

5. The sending of the Holy Spirit was necessary to the sanctification of the believer, the proliferation of the gospel, and the maintaining of the hope of Christ’s return to bring the Church into its full inheritance.

6. These events pointed ahead to the climactic event of history: the second coming of Christ and its affect on believers (resurrection/changed) and unbelievers (wrath/judgment).

This is God’s process of saving men:

1. They are saved by believing in Christ’s finished work.

2. They are being saved (because they are saved) by the indwelling Holy Spirit’s work in them.

3. They will be saved (because they are saved) at Christ’s return when their bodies are redeemed, whether they be dead or alive.

If we read through the six points above six times, eliminating one each time and only considering the remaining five, we find it does great damage to the plan of salvation which culminates in the second coming of Christ. For instance, you can’t leave out Jesus’ death, or His glorification, and still have a true picture of God’s simple plan of salvation. Neither can you add another hope of a resurrection/changing of the saints before the tribulation, or say that all these six points were fulfilled in 70 AD. Doing any of these things would pervert that which God’s word has said.

What is important to the Christian regarding Jesus’ coming is the HOW of His coming and the TIME of His coming. If a person’s belief about the “how” and “time” of Christ’s return does not agree with Scripture, the following become true:

1. He is placed in danger of deadly deception, since he is already deceived about the truths (how and when) of Christ’s coming

2. His proposal of unbiblical scenarios concerning the coming of Christ opens the door for confusion, division and contention

3. He may pressure those with other views to “agree to disagree” about what God has said concerning Christ and His return, therefore making the word of God ambiguous and relative

4. He has brought into the Church the false idea that the “how” and “time” of Christ’s return is unimportant, or that we cannot really know what God promised the Holy Spirit would reveal to us (John 16:13-14)

Since the fulfilling of our hope is vitally connected to the coming of Christ, the above four points also apply to the person’s hope being fulfilled:

1. Since he is already deceived about the “how and when” of Jesus’ return, he will now be deceived about the fulfillment of his own hope for resurrection/change

2. His unbiblical scenarios concerning the coming of Christ open the door for confusion, division and contention about when our hope is fulfilled

3. He may pressure those with other views to “agree to disagree” about what God has said concerning the fulfillment of our hope, even though it’s the capstone of our salvation

4. He has brought into the Church the false idea that the “how” and “time” of our resurrection/change is unimportant, or that we cannot really know what God promised the Holy Spirit would reveal to us (John 16:13-14)

In Part 2, I quoted Peter telling the Church to “hope to the end,” the “end” being the “revelation of Jesus Christ”:

 

1 Peter 1:13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you AT the REVELATION of Jesus Christ;

The word “revelation” is “used of events by which things or states or persons hitherto withdrawn from view are made visible to all” (Vines). The word “revelation” describes exactly the second coming of Christ, in which He fulfills the hope of the Church and brings wrath upon all who have rejected the gospel. This revelation is described in 2 Thessalonians 1:7:

 

2 Th 1:6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;
7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, WHEN the Lord Jesus shall be REVEALED from heaven with his mighty angels,
8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
10 WHEN he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.

THE GOSPEL AND ITS HOPE IN 1 CORINTHIANS 15

The above verses describe the revelation of Christ when He comes to raise the dead saints and change the living saints (“to be glorified in his saints”). It is a fiery, visible revelation of Him to both believers and unbelievers. Note that WHEN He is glorified in all His saints, those who have not accepted the gospel are dealt with as well. This single, one time revelation, when the saints are glorified, is the hope of the Church. Paul describes the hope of the church again in 1 Corinthians 15, a parallel passage to Christ’s fiery coming “to be glorified in his saints” in 2 Thessalonians 1:

 

1 Cor 15:51 Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

Paul began this chapter by stating “first things first” concerning the gospel:

 

1 Cor 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

The definition for “first of all” in verse 3 (Vine’s, en Protos) indicates that there are other things that could be said, but what is said first is of primary importance or foundational. What Paul describes first is the foundation of their salvation in the gospel, which they have accepted and rest in as absolutely true:

FIRST “of time or place,”
(a) as a noun, e.g., Luke_14:18; Rev_1:17; opposite to “the last,” in the neuter plural, Matt_12:45; Luke_11:26; 2_Pet_2:20; in the neuter singular, opposite to “the second,” Heb_10:9; in 1_Cor_15:3, en protois, lit., “in the first (things, or matters)” denotes “first of all;”

In Romans 16, Paul tells us that this same gospel establishes one in Christ and is made known to the nations of the world for the purpose of their obeying it:

 

Rom 16:25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,
26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:

This gospel, though, does not end with the fact that Christ is risen (1 Cor 15:4). In verse 23, Paul adds the resurrection of the believer to the resurrection of Christ. Then in verse 51, he adds the changing of the living to the time of the resurrection of the saints. Is this part of the gospel? Is this to be added to the “first” things of the gospel Paul declared? Yes, it is part of the gospel, the very hope of its proclamation. Christ risen is foundational to the fact that believers can expect to be raised or changed at His coming. The proclamation of the “first” things of the gospel was to be made to the nations, but so was that which was contained within it: the very hope it offered:

 

Col 1:5 FOR THE HOPE WHICH IS LAID UP FOR YOU IN HEAVEN, WHEREOF YE HEARD BEFORE IN THE WORD OF THE TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL;
6 Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:Col 1:22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and BE NOT MOVED AWAY FROM THE HOPE OF THE GOSPEL, WHICH YE HAVE HEARD, AND WHICH WAS PREACHED TO EVERY CREATURE WHICH IS UNDER HEAVEN; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

THE GOSPEL ————–> THE HOPE OF THE GOSPEL

Just as we cannot compromise the “first” things of the gospel, neither can we compromise the truth of its hope. But there are at least nine end time doctrines out there which change the facts (the “how” and the “time”) of the event by which Christ fulfills our hope – His return immediately after the tribulation. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul gives the order of things concerning the resurrection/changing of the saints:

 

1 Cor 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
24 Then cometh the end,

1. Christ has been raised

2. The saints will be raised or changed

3. This is immediately followed by THE END, not by seven years of tribulation. To insert seven years between verses 23 and 24, as Pretribulationists do, is a major assumption that perverts the truth of Scripture. Preterism perverts things even further by teaching that the end came in 70 AD. It is towards this END that the Church is to persevere for it is when the hope of the gospel is fulfilled in them:

 

Heb 6:11 And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto THE END:
12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

IMPORTANCE OF THE GOSPEL AND ITS HOPE IN ESCHATOLOGY

Some say that eschatology is not as important as the foundational gospel, but it definitely is crucial to understand at least the basics. I searched the internet to find a definition of eschatology and found that it is hard to define because of its innumerable facets. But a simple definition of eschatology would be this:

 

Eschatology: “The doctrine of last or final things, as death, resurrection, immortality, judgment” (Webster).

A believer should study eschatology in order to understand what GOD has said about the final things. The final things have been determined by Him and and related to us in His word, and understanding them is of the same importance as understanding the finished work of Christ which established salvation and its hope.

1. Christ saved us to a hope of being totally saved: spirit, soul and body.

2. Christ saved us positionally before God; we are now being justified in His sight.

3. The Holy Spirit is “saving us” by calling us to holiness and working with us by our co-operation to walk in holiness.

4. Christ will return to redeem our bodies and thus “save” us to the full.

Our hope for the redemption of the body is a hope that completes the experience of our total salvation. This final act of redemption could not take place without the resurrection OR the second coming. Together, all of the aspects of Christ’s work give us the complete picture of salvation of the total man as defined by God. One is not more important than the other. ALL are absolutely necessary and ALL are part of the gospel, including the HOPE OF the gospel. So what must be included in a study of eschatology is the understanding of the full gospel and the full salvation it offers to man. Crucial to this understanding is the “how” and “when” of Christ’s return and the fulfillment of our hope. If we don’t include these, we are open to the deceptions of the adversary.

It is inappropriate to dismiss eschatology as an unimportant part of our faith. Eschatology, which includes Jesus’ second coming and the resurrection and glorification of believers, enhances the hope of the gospel because it contains the facts of the “how” and “time” of Christ’s return – events which are yet to happen. The gospel covers past, present, and future events:

1. The crucifixion is over. That’s part of the gospel.

2. Christ’s resurrection is a past event and part of the gospel.

3. The ascension and glorification of Jesus Christ is past and part of the gospel.

4. The sending of the Holy Spirit is a past event and part of the gospel. It is the very promise of the Father, because His present indwelling of believers is our guarantee that we will receive the fullness of the gospel (its hope) when He raises us from the dead or changes us at Christ’s coming.

All that Christ has done and will do must be made real in the life of the Christian in order for him to experience a full salvation.

 

CALVARYCHRIST – died by the shedding of His blood for the cleansing of our sin and putting to death our old nature
BELIEVER – must believe on the finished work of Christ as the only acceptable sacrifice for his sin

CHRIST RISEN

CHRIST – rose on the third day for our justification
BELIEVER – must believe He is risen from the dead, which is the assurance that we have been justified by the sacrifice of Himself. Believing this gives us hope for our own resurrection into eternal life

CHRIST ASCENDED

CHRIST – as the first sinless man, the first man to enter into the very presence of God
BELIEVER – assures our entrance into the very presence of God at death, and our final entrance into His presence as totally redeemed people (spirit, soul, body) at His return

CHRIST GLORIFIED

CHRIST – being proved by the resurrection to be the acceptable sinless sacrifice, the Son is glorified by the Father
BELIEVER – assures our future glorification in Christ when we are changed to be like Him at His return

CHRIST SENT THE HOLY SPIRIT

CHRIST – sent the Holy Spirit to indwell all who believe
BELIEVER – indwelt by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of sanctification, service of the gospel, and guarantor of our hope for a full inheritance, which will be initiated by our resurrection or change when Christ returns

CHRIST RETURNS

CHRIST – he will return once after the tribulation to glorify the saints
BELIEVER – the dead will be raised and those who remain will be changed to be like Him. Our redemption will be fully realized and we shall forever be with the Lord. The hope of the Christian will be fulfilled by His return.

There is no way Christians can say that eschatology is not that important. Having the facts wrong gives a person a false understanding of the one hope we have in Christ. To agree to disagree over these “eschatological facts” is to say that the word of God and its related hope are not that important. To say that it doesn’t matter what we believe because God will straighten us out when the time comes is not only ridiculous, but presumptive. Apostasies are based on attitudes such as these. WE are INDIVIDUALLY RESPONSIBLE for what we know, and what we know is to line up with what God has said, or we stand in danger of opening ourselves to deceptive doctrines.

A Perversion Of Our Hope – Ed Tarkowski

STAND & COMFORT Newsletter
Email NEWSLETTER #30 (Vol 2 No 15)
By Ed Tarkowski

 

PART 2: PERVERSIONS OF OUR ONE HOPE

The Bible tells us that our hope is the person of our Lord Jesus Christ:

 

1 Tim 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Jesus’ returning in the power and glory of the Father will be earth-shattering to those who have refused the gospel, for He will come in judgment upon the nations of the world. But His coming will also fulfill all His promises to those who have believed on Him and hoped for His return. These things are called part of our inheritance:

 

1 Pet 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

The following are some of those things which Christ manifests in us when He, as our hope, appears:

1. THE HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE

 

Titus 3:7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

The return of Christ will totally satisfy the promises and will enable us to live forever with the Lord in the Father’s Kingdom:

 

Mat 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

2. THE HOPE OF THE REDEMPTION OF OUR BODY/SALVATION

 

1 Th 5:8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

The fullness of our salvation will be revealed with the redemption of our bodies, with the dead being raised and the living being changed to be like Him. Therefore, the resurrection of the saints is one aspect of the hope that proceeds from Christ and completes our salvation:

 

Rom 8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

3. THE HOPE OF THE FULL MANIFESTATION OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

 

Gal 5:5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

Because we have righteousness by faith rather than by the law, we have hope for its full manifestation when Christ returns. This includes the reward associated with this righteousness, which is based on one’s faithfulness to that which God has given him to do. Paul said,

 

2 Tim 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

4. THE HOPE OF BEING CHANGED TO BE LIKE HIM

 

1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

The hope of being changed to be like Jesus is the incentive to purify ourselves of all that’s detrimental to this promised change.

5. THE HOPE FOR THE GLORY OF GOD

 

Rom 5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

The Christian will be glorified by the glory of God Himself.

FALSE DOCTRINES THAT PERVERT OUR HOPE IN CHRIST’S RETURN AND ITS TIMING

In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul describes Christ as the hope of the Christian. He then goes on to tell how the dead saints, who believed in their hearts that Jesus died and rose, are not without this hope. They had died in the sure hope of returning with Christ, to be raised from the dead in their bodies just before the living are changed:

 

1 Th 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

These verses describe Christ as the hope of all Christians, past and present, dead or alive. It is the only hope for all who are His, for there is only one hope described in the Scriptures:

 

Eph 4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;

What the verses in 1 Thessalonians describe is Christ physically returning in a very visible way (shout, the voice, the trump, etc.). In this coming, He fulfills the hope of every person who ever believed in Him, whether dead or alive. Only He can raise the dead and only He can change the living, conforming their bodies to be like His glorious body. In the gospel of John, Jesus described Himself as this hope:

 

John 11:24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he [Lazarus] shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

When He returns, Jesus will be the Resurrection to the dead saints and the Life to the living. The hope of all believers from all time will be fulfilled by Christ at His coming. Romans 8 tells us that even creation groans for this day because it, too, lies in corruption as a result of man’s fall and sin. But at Christ’s coming to glorify the Church, this corruption also will be removed because the time of the restoration of all things will have come:

 

1 Th 1:10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

 

Acts 3:21 [Jesus,] Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.Phil 3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

Rom 8:20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

The creation itself, which also abides in hope, will also be restored when Jesus returns and raises and glorifies the bodies of the sons of God. There is only one hope in the Church and in the creation itself, and when He comes again (Hebrews 9:28), this hope is fulfilled. Christ alone is our hope and the very hope of creation.

PRETRIBULATIONISM AND OUR HOPE

This one event (the resurrection of the dead saints, the changing of the living saints, and the deliverance of the creation from corruption) does not occur at the beginning of or just before the tribulation period, as Pretribulationism proposes. If that were true, then the world would pass through the tribulation period under the reign of antichrist IN A CREATION RELEASED FROM ITS SUBJECTION TO CORRUPTION. If that were true, the Church would have been glorified and taken to heaven, not be reigning with Christ over the restoring of all things. Believing that this event happens before the tribulation perverts the glorious picture of creation’s, and our, one hope fulfilled. Just as Pretribulationism splits the coming of Christ into two parts, it does so also to the one hope of the Church.

Pretribulationism objects to this argument, saying the manifestation of the glorious sons of God is speaking of the “second” return after the tribulation in Revelation 19. But the context of Paul’s writing is TO THE CHURCH AT ROME. It is THEY whom he is saying this to in the context of the resurrection (v.11-18, especially 11, 17 and 18). These saints have already died and will be raised WHEN Jesus returns. In these verses, Paul is speaking about them being glorified and then continues by tieing that same hope of creation to the time they are glorified. Will they skip the resurrection that Pretribulatio9nism proposes, which occurs before the trib? If not, then creation must be changed when they are raised. In Pretribulationism, there is NOTHING to justify the creation’s having to wait seven years to be released from corruption after the glorification of the sons of God.

FULL PRETERISM AND OUR HOPE

Another doctrine (Full or Radical Preterism) teaches that the return of Christ and the resurrection of believers is long past, having occurred in 70 AD. But Jesus said that when He returned, He would raise those who had died and immediately change those who were still alive. It’s at the time of the resurrection of the dead that the changing of the bodies of the living saints is to take place. From that time on, those living would never die. But Full Preterism teaches that Jesus already returned in 70 AD, and the resurrection took place, and that from that time forward, the resurrection became a spiritual resurrection: the believing dead go to be with the Lord in heaven in their spiritual bodies. The Scriptures are perverted because the hope of a physical resurrection and redemption of the body is changed. Our one hope is changed from a single, sudden event – which includes the entire body of Christ in heaven and on earth (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17) – into an ongoing process of hope being fulfilled over the entire life of the Church on earth. If this doctrine were true, this hope has been in the process of fulfillment for 1932 years, and creation’s hope as stated in Romans 8 has not been fulfilled at all.

Full Preterism proposes that when Jesus supposedly came in 70 AD, the resurrection of the dead was not seen because those who had died were raised in their spiritual bodies. But what about those believers who were alive at the time and had the hope of being changed and living forever? Thinking this through, we come to two possible scenarios:

1. Those believers who were alive in 70 AD didn’t die, but were changed to be like Jesus and then were caught up together with the dead in their spiritual bodies. This means they also are in spiritual bodies and are no longer in this world. Since THE ENTIRE Church was moved to heaven in 70 AD according to its one hope, there have been no Christians on earth to preach the gospel since 70 AD.

2. Those believers who were alive in 70 AD didn’t die, but were changed to be like Jesus and then allowed to remain on earth so God would have someone to preach the gospel in the world. But since they were changed at His return, THEY COULD NOT HAVE DIED AFTER HIS RETURN. Where are they, then? THEY SHOULD STILL BE ALIVE ON EARTH AND OVER 1932 YEARS OLD!

But because there’s been no lapse in gospel preaching since 70 AD and there are no ancient spiritual bodies doing the preaching, we should ask: Did God restore Christians to the earth for the purpose of preaching the gospel after 70 AD? What would be their hope, since the one hope of the Church has already been fulfilled? And we could ask another version of the question we’d put to Full Preterism: was the one hope of creation, deliverance from the bondage of corruption, fulfilled in 70 AD, and if not, why not? Paul said it would be.

Perverted doctrines such as these destroy the truth about the one, true, God-given hope of the gospel. In Ephesians 1, Paul prayed,

 

Eph 1:18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

Jesus Christ is risen from the dead and is fully capable of fulfilling the hope God gave us. We are to know these things, and also to know WHEN our hope will be fulfilled, lest we look for another time and be deceived. As Peter said,

 

1 Pet 1:12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

TAKING THE COVER OFF

Our hope will be totally fulfilled at THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST. That revelation will be to the world and the Church, when every eye will see Him. The word “revelation” means to take the cover off, to disclose (Strong’s G602):

1) a laying bear, making naked

2) a disclosure of truth, instruction

        2a) concerning things before unknown

 

        2b) used of events by which things or states or persons hitherto withdrawn from view are made visible to all

 

      3) manifestation, appearance (Linked Word Project, KJV)

Strong’s G601

1) to uncover, lay open what has been veiled or covered up

        1a) disclose, make bare

 

    2) to make known, make manifest, disclose what before was unknown

If someone is in bed and fully covered up with the sheets and one takes the covers off, they are disclosed. If one has an antique car and it is covered by a canvas and the canvas is removed, the car is fully seen. Jesus will return in the power and glory of the Father to fulfill the hope of the church. He won’t be revealed before the tribulation, nor was he already revealed in 70 AD. The Christian’s hope will be fulfilled when the sky rolls back and Jesus is revealed to the world in wrath, and to the Christian for salvation from that wrath. The dead in Christ will rise, living believers will be changed and caught up in the air, and the creation itself will be given the glorious liberty of the children of God. Such is our hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our Hope Made Real By The Resurrection – Ed Tarkowski

STAND & COMFORT Newsletter
Email NEWSLETTER #29 (Vol 2 No 14)
By Ed Tarkowski
 

PART 1: OUR HOPE MADE REAL BY THE RESURRECTION

On Pentecost, Peter told how David spoke of Christ being raised from the dead, that when Christ laid down His life for all men, He did so in the perfect, without-a-doubt hope of being raised again:

 

Acts 2:25 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:
26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also MY FLESH SHALL REST IN HOPE. . . .
31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.
32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.

Christ suffered at the hands of the Jewish leaders of His time and eventually was put to death according to the foreknowledge of God. He went to the cross in perfect faith in the Father, knowing it would lead to His death. When it did, He died in perfect hope, knowing He would be raised from the dead. Jesus died in hope that was undergirded by faith in the One who said it was time to go to the cross. This is what Peter said regarding David’s prophetic words, which describe one aspect of the hope we have in Christ: resurrection from the dead. Engulfing and saturating this perfect faith and perfect hope was the perfect love between the Father and the Son.

I think Christians sometimes have an old tendency to see hope as not quite a sure thing. When we hope for earthly things, there’s an element of doubt; e.g, “Gee, I hope I get that job” or “Boy, I hope I can get this work done in time and make it home during the holidays.” And we’ve all heard unbelievers say, “I sure hope I get to heaven when I die.” This is not the kind of hope Jesus had. He didn’t say, “I sure hope I will be raised from the dead.” Instead, He rested in the sure fact of resurrection because He IS the Resurrection and the Life, and the Father commanded that He take up His life again once it was laid down.

Our resurrection is just as sure a hope. God’s word was not written with an element of doubt in it. When it speaks of hope, IT DOES SO SIMPLY BECAUSE whatever the specific hope is, it hasn’t happened yet:

 

Rom 8:24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

Therefore we must wait for it, placing our faith in God that He is not a liar, but true to what He has said. The hope God gives is a promise given that something will definitely, undoubtedly happen, but the time for that which was spoken has not yet arrived. The resurrection on the last day is a sure hope because the promise has come from God Himself:

 

John 11:25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Jesus died in the sure hope of resurrection, ascension and glorification at the right hand of God. To Him, there was no doubt these things would happen, and He went to the cross with perfect expectation. By His resurrection, He established for all who believe the future resurrection into His visible presence. This hope is just as sure, just as certain.

 

HOPE 1679. elpizo, from G1680; to expect or confide:– hope (for), trust.HOPE 1680. elpis, from a prim. elpo (to anticipate, usually with pleasure); expectation (abstr. or concr.) or confidence:–faith, hope.

Faith and hope are intertwined. Remember the song, “You can’t have one without the other”? Well, concerning faith and hope, you can’t have one without the other as well. It is hard at times to separate them to see the attributes of each, but I will make that attempt here. The definition we often use of the word “faith” is this”:

 

Heb 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.FAITH 4102. pistis, from G3982; persuasion, i.e. credence; mor. conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), espec. reliance upon Christ for salvation; abstr. constancy in such profession; by extens. the system of religious (Gospel) truth itself:–assurance, belief, believe, faith, fidelity.

There is a perverted faith and hope where, in order to fulfill his hopes and desires, a person confesses and confesses until his brains are inside out. This kind of faith is given birth by the human wants of man. But the God-given kind of faith and hope is birthed when God speaks to us and we are confident that God has spoken. When we say, “God has said this to me and this is what He will do in the future,” it is a sure thing in our heart and we rest in faith in Him to bring it about. Crucial to this life of faith and hope is KNOWING that GOD HAS spoken to us, and that what was promised had no origins in the flesh or the whisperings of spirits not of God.

God is very merciful in this area. If you remember my doubts concerning the Scriptures I was “hearing” when my dog Bogie was missing, you’ll remember that I hoped against hope. I saw no evidence that he would be found alive. The wooded areas for miles around made me doubt all the more that we’d ever find him. But God kept bringing Scriptures to mind that gave me a hope that wouldn’t quit, even in the face of all my doubting as to whether or not it was God speaking. I knew that if it was God, Bogie would be found. This hope coming to me through the word of God hoped against my own personal, doubt-filled hope. One was a confident expectation, while the other hoped one minute and doubted the next. The one hope was of the flesh and brought confusion and doubt and a roller coaster experience. The other was filled with an expectation that when covered up by human hope rose again and again and again. God was being very merciful to me.

Now that Bogie is safely home, I can see the hope God was giving me in this situation. It was not a confusing hope; I was the one who confused things. True hope is a beautiful experience in the face of circumstances that are beyond our control. We only ruin that experience because of our fleshly nature that surfaces in such times. This was for me another lesson learned.

Concerning Christ, for a resurrection to take place, there must be a death, and Christ willingly laid down His life to establish righteousness as a free gift for all who would believe. For Christ to ascend to the Father and be glorified and then send the Holy Spirit to believers, there had to be a resurrection. Death is death is death. Without the resurrection we would have no hope There would be no hope of entering the presence of God, there would be no hope of union with God by the Holy Spirit, there would be no hope of Jesus’ return to establish His millenial reign. We would be as hopeless as we always were. The resurrection is absolutely crucial to God’s plan of salvation and Jesus walked through to Calvary in perfect hope and placed His faith in the Father without any hint of wavering. Out of death, He rose again. Hope and faith would be available to all. All one had to do was believe.

The substance of things hoped for was now seen by the apostles and disciples. Hope was now in Christ for the eternal future of all men who would believe. Our own resurrection or being changed is still in the future, yet we hope for it, believing at this moment the truth of it. It is a hope that WILL come to pass, and those who place their faith in the one who promises a complete redemption will not be disappointed.

OUR HOPE TELLS US WE WILL BE GLORIFIED AND IN CHRIST’S PRESENCE

Not only was Christ raised from the dead, but He ascended to the Father and entered His presence to be glorified:

 

Acts 1:11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. . .
Acts 2:33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.
34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool.
36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

When Jesus ascended after His resurrection, He entered the presence of the Father as our forerunner:

 

Heb 6:17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:
18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:
19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;
20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

The resurrection established a sure hope to be offered to all men. Jesus was God come in the flesh and these verses refer to His entering into the Father’s presence as a risen man on our behalf, then becoming our High Priest before the Father. He was our forerunner, the first fruits of all who would follow. In this historic event, we find hope to be set free one day from the infirmities of the earthly body. Jesus rose bodily and entered the Father’s presence bodily and then, being glorified, sent the Holy Spirit to indwell all who would believe. Jesus’ dying was only one part of God’s work to establish a full salvation that could be offered to all men. There had to be a resurrection as a sign to all that God had indeed established righteousness before Him, that we could enter His presence at death through the shed blood of Christ, and that one day He will, without question, back up His word and raise all believers in glory into His very presence. He will fulfill all His promises included in the one hope He has given us.

The resurrection is central to all the parts of God’s one salvation. It establishes the hope of our own resurrection as a sure thing without doubt. Not only did He enter on our behalf, He was glorified on our behalf. Without the resurrection, the hope of glory would be an empty one. Because of the resurrection, Jesus entered God’s presence and sent the Holy Spirit to indwell all who would believe. Praise Almighty God for the resurrection. Without the resurrection, the Holy Spirit could not have come to indwell us as the power of this full salvation which points to a living hope of a full redemption. Because of the resurrection, God could tell the world through Peter,

 

Acts 2:38 . . . Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

With the promised Holy Spirit sent, the way was established for the resurrection of all who believed Jesus was indeed risen from the dead:

 

Rom 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

The spirits of the dead saints in heaven could now look forward to the resurrection of their bodies to be like His glorious body, as could all who will be alive and changed when He returns:

 

Phil 3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

HOPE! A SURE HOPE! Jesus would one day return to raise all who will be His at that time, and they will be raised without corruption. Death will harm these no more as they reign with Him in glory.

THE HOPE OF GLORY

The resurrection is central to the life of the Christian. Without it, he could not look forward to being glorified in Christ. The changing of our vile bodies to be like His, the glorification of the saints, and living in the visible kingdom could not occur without it. I can readily assure you, Jesus is not sitting on His throne thinking, “Gee, when the time comes for me to return, I hope I can raise them all from the dead.” Jesus has said it is a sure thing because it is part of our eternal inheritance as believers in Christ, and the power to bring it all about lies in Him alone. The fullness of Christ’s finished and future work are all contained in the words, “eternal life”:

 

John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

It is knowing Christ in all these ways (as our sacrifice, our forerunner, our High Priest, our baptizer in the Holy Spirit, etc) that gives us eternal life now. Knowing Him is not mere mental assent, but an experiential knowledge of Jesus and of Him who sent Him. It is in knowing the justification, the setting apart, the indwelling Holy Spirit, etc. that we know Him and thus experience eternal life now. Because of His death through the shedding of His blood, we can now have eternal life and all that that means. Some of these things we have now, yet our inheritance is not fully enjoyed. But He has given us a guarantee:

 

Gal 4:6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
Gal 4:7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.Eph 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

God has saved us:

 

Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

God is saving us:

 

Phil 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

God will save us:

 

1 Th 5:8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, THE HOPE OF SALVATION.
9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.
11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

Salvation (of the body which completes our salvation) is a hope, to be manifested at a future time, yet we are even now saved and being saved. We rest in it now while we work it out, and will be totally redeemed at the return of the only one who can raise the dead and change our mortal bodies to be like His glorious body:

 

Phil 3:21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
Phil 4:1 Therefore, my brethren, dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.

Because God raised Jesus from the dead, Peter could boldy say:

 

1 Pet 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.1 Pet 1:19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

The Early Church Fathers: No Preterist Resurrection By Ed Tarkowski

Though I am just beginning to look into Preterism, I found an important list of quotes from the early Church Fathers and others up the 400 A.D. that I think ought to posted somewhere. I will do that in a moment, but let me explain the basics of what I have learned about Preterism.

There are two main classifications of Preterism. The first is Full Preterism, which believes that all prophetic Scripture has already been fulfilled in 70 A.D., including the resurrection, the second coming of Christ, the reign of Christ with all having now been handed over to the Father. Full Preterism is known by a number of different names, such as Realized Eschatology and Hyper-Preterism. There are other names, but any doctrine proposing that all has been fulfilled is Full Preterism.

I imagine there are more than one offshoot of this belief system, but the second main one is called Partial Preterism (in which various beliefs vary within the doctrine itself), which believes some of the prophetic Scriptures have been fulfilled, but there is still to be a return of Christ one day. The following gives the general points surrounding events in 70 A.D. according to various articles I have read on the Full Preterism:

FULL PRETERISM

 

  • The second coming of Christ (spiritual, not bodily) occurred in 70 A.D. 
  • This coming was *THE* day of the Lord 
  • Christ came spiritually in judgement in 70 A.D. The Great Tribulation is a past event. 
  • The resurrection was not a physical resurrection but a spiritual one (1 Cor 15:44) in 70 A.D. This supposedly fulfilled 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17. 
  • Any future resurrection is only for those who die, meaning the spirits of those who die go to be with the Lord 
  • We are now living in the eternal kingdom of God which will never end 
  • We have fully received all the promises of God and possess them in the present

The references to the early Church Fathers I referred to early was found in a <A HREF=”http://members.aol.com/VFTINC/70/GentryHP.htm#tangible”> discussion between a believer in Full Preterism and a Partial Preterist, Kenneth Gentry. He states,

 

“Second, hyper-preterism has serious implications for the perspicuity of Scripture. This viewpoint not only has implications for the later creeds, but for the instructional abilities of the apostles: no one in church history knew the major issues of which they spoke — until very recently! Are the Scriptures that impenetrable on an issue of that significance? Clement of Rome lived through A. D. 70 and had no idea he was resurrected! He continued to look for a physical resurrection (Clement 50:3). Jude’s (supposed) grandsons still sought a physical resurrection (cf. Eusebius, EH 3:24:4). Whoever these men were, they came right out of the first generation and in the land of Israel — with absolutely no inkling of an A. D. 70 resurrection or a past second Advent. See also the Didache 10:5; 16:1ff (first century); Ignatius; Trallians 9:2; Smyrnaens 2:1; 6:1; Letter to Polycarp 3:2 (early second century); Polycarp 2:1; 6:2; 7:1. See also Papias, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr.”

I did my own search of the early Church Fathers and found the following quotes, which were all written AFTER 70 A.D. when the resurrection promised by Jesus is said by Full Preterists to have taken place. Interesting is the fact that when I searched the ECF documents, I came up with the 1,067 references to the resurrection. Sporadically checking a number of them, I did not find any that said the resurrection had occurred in 70 A.D. or that the resurrection was a past event. Not only does Full Preterism leave us with very few promises, if any, it mocks the early saints of the Church after 70. A.D. as though they were ignorant that they had been resurrected. Can we even imagine those saints standing for the faith and undergoing persecution and martyrdom and doing so in total ignorance that THEY WERE ALREADY RESURRECTED?! The thought that the resurrection has occurred is unthinkable.

I now list the early Church Fathers LOOKING FORWARD to the resurrection, realizing that in other areas there may be problems with some of the things they said concerning Christian beliefs. I list a few quotes here, starting with John Chrysostom (347-407):

 

“For what position can be loftier or more secure than that in which a man has only one anxiety, ‘How he ought to please God?’ Hast thou seen the shipwrecks, Theodore, of those who sail upon this sea? Wherefore, I beseech thee, avoid the deep water, avoid the stormy billows, and seize some lofty spot where it is not possible to be captured. There is a resurrection, there is a judgment, there is a terrible tribunal WHICH AWAITS us when we have gone out of this world; ‘we must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ’” (St. Chrysostom, An Exhortation To Theodore After His Fall, Letter II, 4).”As then if we see any one sleeping we are not disturbed or distressed, expecting that he WILL certainly get up: even so when we see any one dead, let us not be disturbed or dejected for this also is a sleep, a longer one indeed, but still a sleep. By giving it the name of slumber He comforted the mourners and overthrew the accusation of the unbelievers. If you mourn immoderately over him who has departed you will be like that unbeliever who has no hope of a resurrection. He indeed does well to mourn, inasmuch as he cannot exercise any spiritual wisdom concerning things to come: but thou who hast received such strong proofs CONCERNING THE FUTURE LIFE, why dost thou sink into the same weakness with him? Therefore it is written ‘now concerning them that are asleep we would not have you ignorant that ye sorrow not even as others who have no hope’” (Chrysostom: Omily On The Paralytic Let Down Through The Roof).

According to Full Preterism, Chyrsostom was totally ignorant that 1 Thessalonians 4 had been fulfilled. Continuing,

 

“15. . . . What did He promise? Resurrection, immortality of the body, union with angels, a place in the joyful company of archangels, and as a citizen in His kingdom, immaculate life, the good things ‘which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard nor have entered into the heart of man, things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.’16. Understand what is said, lest ye lose it: I am labouring to enable you to perceive it. The dowry of the bride then was divided into two portions consisting of things present and things to come; things seen and things heard, things given and things taken on trust, things experienced, and things to be enjoyed hereafter; things belonging to present life, and things to come AFTER THE RESURRECTION” (Chrysostom, Homily II, After Eutropius Having Been Found Outside The Church Had Been Taken Captive).

“And Paul clearly testifies this, saying, ‘For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him that subjected the same in hope: because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.’ For the creation was made subject to vanity, he says, and he expects that it will be set free from such servitude, as he intends to call this world by the name of creation. For it is not what is unseen but what is seen that is subject to corruption. The creation, then, after being restored to a better and more seemly state, remains, rejoicing and exulting over the children of God AT THE RESURRECTION; for whose sake it NOW groans and travails, WAITING itself also for our redemption from the corruption of the body, that, WHEN we have risen and shaken off the mortality of the flesh, according to that which is written, ‘Shake off the dust, and arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem,’ and have been set free from sin, it also shall be freed from corruption and be subject no longer to vanity, but to righteousness” (Methodius, circa 311 A.D., From the Discourse on the Resurrection, Part I, VIII).

If the resurrection has occurred, then we are now ignorantly living in a new creation free from corruption.

 

“But I and others, who are right-minded Christians on all points, are assured that there WILL BE a resurrection of the dead, and a thousand years in Jerusalem, which will then be built, adorned, and enlarged, [as] the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah and others declare” (Justin Martyr, 100-165 A.D., Dialogue With Trypho, Chapter LXXX.-The Opinion of Justin with Regard to the Reign of a Thousand Years. Several Catholics Reject It).”And on this account we believe that THERE WILL BE a resurrection of bodies after the consummation of all things; not, as the Stoics affirm, according to the return of certain cycles, the same things being produced and destroyed for no useful purpose, but a resurrection once for all, when our periods of existence are completed, and in consequence solely of the constitution of things under which men alone live, for the purpose of passing judgment upon them. Nor is sentence upon us passed by Minos or Rhadamanthus, before whose decease not a single soul, according to the mythic tales, was judged; but the Creator, God Himself, becomes the arbiter. And, although you regard us as mere triflers and babblers, it troubles us not, since we have faith in this doctrine. For just as, not existing before I was born, I knew not who I was, and only existed in the potentiality (u0po/stasij) Of fleshly matter, but being born, after a former state of nothingness, I have obtained through my birth a certainty of my existence; in the same way, having been born, and through death existing no longer, and seen no longer, I shall exist again, just as before I was not, but was afterwards born. Even though fire destroy all traces of my flesh, the world receives the vaporized matter; and though dispersed through rivers and seas, or torn in pieces by wild beasts, I am laid up in the storehouses of a wealthy Lord. And, although the poor and the godless know not what is stored up, yet God the Sovereign, when He pleases, will restore the substance that is visible to Him alone to its pristine condition” (Tatian’s Address To The Greeks, circa 150 A.D., Chapter VI.-Christians’ Belief in the Resurrection).

“The power and glory of God shine forth in the weakness of human flesh, as he will render our body a participator of the resurrection and of immortality, although He has formed it from the dust of the earth; He WILL ALSO bestow upon it the enjoyment of immortality, just as He grants it this short life in common with the soul” (St. Irenaeus of Lyons, circa 130-202, Adversus haereses, Book V, Chapter 3).

The resurrection of the believers is a bodily one and it has not occurred. It must await the return of our Lord Jesus Christ at the end of Daniel’s 70th week. It is our hope, our only hope and Full Preterism takes away the hope we have as Christians. I think this quote from Chrysostom is somewhat appropriate regarding this matter:

 

“The doctrine of the Resurrection, too, was lame (ekwleue) among them: for some of them had no strong belief that there is any resurrection of bodies, having still on them the disease of Grecian foolishness. For indeed all these things were the progeny of the madness which belongs to Heathen Philosophy, and she was the mother of all mischief. Hence, likewise, they had become divided; in this respect also having learned of the philosophers. For these latter were no less at mutual variance, always, through love of rule and vain glory contradicting one another’s opinions, and bent upon making some new discovery in addition to all that was before. And the cause of this was, their having begun to trust themselves to reasonings” (Chrysostom, First Epistle Of St. Paul The Apostle, To The Corinthians, Argument, 2).

During the first 400 years of the early Church after 70 A.D., the Fathers defended the truth of a future, bodily resurrection. None of them stated otherwise, nor did they refute others that it had already occurred. For 1900 years, the Church has believed in a future resurrection from the dead at the glorious, visible, in-the-sky return of Jesus Christ when every eye will see Him personally.

In one discussion I had, a brother in Christ gave me these quotes from the early Church Fathers of those men who were students of John the Apostle and of those these students taught. If any of the ECF’s should have known the resurrection had already taken place, these should have. These quotes also show future events that Full Preterism inisists have been fulfilled:

Polycarp-Pupil of John the Apostle (AD. 70-156) 

THE EPISTLE OF POLYCARP TO THE PHILIPPIANS
CHAPTER VI.–THE DUTIES OF PRESBYTERS AND OTHERS”we must all appear at the judgment-seat of Christ, and must every one give an account of himself.” Let us then serve Him in fear, and with all reverence, even as He Himself HAS COMMANDED US, AND AS THE APOSTLES WHO PREACHED THE GOSPEL UNTO US, and the prophets who proclaimed beforehand the coming of the Lord [have alike taught us].”

 

CHAPTER II.–AN EXHORTATION TO VIRTUE”But He who raised Him up from the dead WILL raise up us also”

PAPIAS-Pupil of John the Apostle (AD. 70-155) 

FRAGMENTS OF PAPIAS FROM THE EXPOSITION OF THE ORACLES OF THE LORD. V.”those who are deemed worthy of an abode in heaven SHALL go there, others SHALL enjoy the delights of Paradise, and others SHALL possess the splendour of the city; for everywhere the Saviour WILL BE seen, according as they SHALL BE worthy who see Him.”

VI.

“there WILL BE a millennium AFTER the resurrection from the dead, when the personal reign of Christ WILL BE established on this earth”

IGNATIUS-Pupil of John the Apostle (AD. 67-110)

 

THE EPISTLE OF IGNATIUS TO THE TRALLIANS
CHAPTER IX”He was also truly raised from the dead, His Father quickening Him, even as after the same manner His Father WILL SO raise up us who believe in Him by Christ Jesus”

CHAPTER I.–DESIRE OF IGNATIUS FOR MARTYRDOM.

“Ignatius, the disciple of John the apostle, a man in all respects of an apostolic character, governed the Church of the Antiochians with great care, having with difficulty escaped the former storms of the many persecutions under Domitian”

Irenaeus-Student of John the Apostles’s pupil Polycarp (AD. 120-202)

 

AGAINST HERESIES, BOOK V, XXX”But he indicates the number of the name now, that WHEN this man comes we may avoid him, being aware who he is: ..But when this Antichrist SHALL HAVE devastated all things in this world, he will reign for three years and six months, and sit in the temple at Jerusalem; and then the Lord WILL COME from heaven in the clouds, in the glory of the Father, sending this man and those who follow him into the lake of fire; but bringing in for the righteous the times of the kingdom”

AGAINST HERESIES, BOOK V, XXVI, 1

“In a still clearer light has John, in the Apocalypse, indicated to the Lord’s disciples what SHALL HAPPEN IN THE LAST TIMES, and concerning the ten kings WHO SHALL THEN arise, … These have one mind, and give their strength and power to the beast. THESE SHALL make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb SHALL OVERCOME them, because He is the Lord of lords, and King of kings. … And THEY SHALL lay Babylon waste, and burn her with fire, and SHALL GIVE their kingdom to the beast, and put the church to flight. AFTER THAT THEY SHALL be destroyed by the coming of our Lord.”

AGAINST HERESIES, BOOK V, XXXV, 1

“For ALL these and other words were UNQUESTIONABLY SPOKEN IN REFERENCE TO THE RESURRECTION OF THE JUST, WHICH TAKES PLACE AFTER the coming of Antichrist, AND the destruction of all nations under his rule; IN [the times of] WHICH [resurrection] THE RIGHTEOUS SHALL reign on the earth, waxing stronger by the sight of the Lord: and through Him they SHALL become accustomed to partake in the glory of God the Father, and SHALL enjoy in the kingdom intercourse and communion with the holy angels, and union with spiritual beings; and those whom the Lord SHALL FIND IN THE FLESH, AWAITING HIM from heaven, and WHO HAVE suffered tribulation, as well as escaped the hands of the Wicked one.”

Hippolytus-Student of Iranaeus of the direct teaching lineage of John (AD. 170-236)

 

TREATISE ON CHRIST AND ANTICHRIST, 5″It is proper that we take the Holy Scriptures themselves in hand, and find out from them what, and of what manner, THE COMING of Antichrist is; ON WHAT OCCASION AND AT WHAT TIME that impious one shall be revealed; and whence and from what tribe (he shall come); and what his name is, which is indicated by the number in Scripture; and how he SHALL WORK error among the people, gathering them from the ends of the earth; and (how) he SHALL stir up tribulation and persecution against the saints; and how he SHALL glorify himself as God; and what his end SHALL BE; and how the sudden appearing of the Lord SHALL BE revealed from heaven; and what the conflagration of the whole world SHALL BE; and what the glorious and heavenly kingdom of the saints IS TO BE, when they reign together with Christ; and what the punishment of the wicked by fire.”

TREATISE ON CHRIST AND ANTICHRIST, 27,28

“As THESE THINGS, then, ARE IN THE FUTURE, and as the ten toes of the image are equivalent to (so many) democracies, and the ten horns of the fourth beast are distributed over ten kingdoms, let us look at the subject a little more closely, and consider these matters as in the clear light of a personal survey. The golden head of the image and the lioness denoted the Babylonians; the shoulders and arms of silver, and the bear, represented the Persians and Medes; the belly and thighs of brass, and the leopard, meant the Greeks, who held the sovereignty from Alexander’s time; the legs of iron, and the beast dreadful and terrible, expressed the Romans, who hold the sovereignty at present; the toes of the feet which were part clay and part iron, and the ten horns, were emblems of the kingdoms that are yet to rise; the other little horn that grows up among them meant the Antichrist in their midst”

TREATISE ON CHRIST AND ANTICHRIST, 27,28

 

“With respect to his name, it is not in our power to explain it exactly, as the blessed John understood it and was instructed about it, but only to give a conjectural account of it; for when he appears, the blessed one will show us what we seek to know. … Wherefore we ought neither to give it out as if this were certainly his name, nor again ignore the fact that he may not otherwise be designated. But having the mystery of God in our heart, we ought in fear to keep faithfully what has been told us by blessed prophets, in order that WHEN THOSE THINGS COME TO PASS, we may be prepared for them, and not be deceived. FOR WHEN THE TIMES ADVANCE, he too, of whom these things are said, will be manifest.”

TREATISE ON CHRIST AND ANTICHRIST, 60, 61, 64

“Now concerning the tribulation of the persecution WHICH IS to fall upon the Church from the adversary, John also speaks thus, “And I saw a great and wondrous sign in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, … And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.” That refers to the one thousand two hundred and threescore days (the half of the week) during which the tyrant is to reign and persecute the Church…. These things then, being come to pass, beloved, and the one week being divided into two parts, and the abomination of desolation being manifested then, and the two prophets and forerunners of the Lord having finished their course, and the whole world finally approaching the consummation, what remains but the coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ from heaven, for whom we have looked in hope.”

FRAGMENTS FROM COMMENTARIES, II, 7

“WHEN THE TIMES ARE FULFILLED, and the ten horns spring from the beast in the last (times), then Antichrist WILL APPEAR among them. WHEN HE MAKES war against the saints, and persecutes them, THEN MAY WE EXPECT the manifestation of the Lord from heaven.”

I have made some inquiries about Full and Partial Preterism, but it seems to me that Full Preterism plays into the hands of the Dominionism agenda. IF all things were fulfilled, then all that would be left, it seems to me, would be to establish the kingdom on earth since we supposedly already have our inheritance. If I come to a more sure conclusion about this, I will write more later on this belief system.

Of or From The Dead – Cheri Stokes

of OR from the dead

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES
(44x in 40v)

(Mat 14:2) “And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do show forth themselves in him.”

(Mat 17:9) “And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.”

(Mat 22:31-32) “But as touching The Resurrection of the deadhave ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, {32} I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”

(Mat 27:64) “Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He isrisen from the deadso the last error shall be worse than the first.”

(Mat 28:7) “And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the deadand, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.”

(Mark 6:14-16) “And king Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad:) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do show forth themselves in him. {15} Others said, That it is Elias. And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets. {16} But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead.”

(Mark 9:9-10) “And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead. {10} And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean.”

(Mark 12:25-27) “For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven. {26} And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?{27} He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.”

(Luke 9:7) “Now Herod the Tetrarch heard of all that was done by Him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead;”

(Luke 16:31) “And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”

(Luke 20:35-38) “But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that Age, and The Resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: {36} Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of The Resurrection. {37} Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. {38} For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.”

(Luke 24:46) “And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:”

(John 2:20-22) “Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? {21} But He spake of the Temple of His Body. {22}When therefore He was risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this unto them; and they believed the Scripture, and the Word which Jesus had said.”

(John 12:1-2) “Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom He raised from the dead. {2} There they made Him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.”

(John 12:9-11) “Much people of the Jews therefore knew that He was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom He had raisedfrom the dead. {10} But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; {11} Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.”

(John 12:17) “The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record.”

(John 20:8-9) “Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. {9} For as yet they knew not the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.”

(John 21:13-14) “Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise. {14} This is now the third time that Jesus showed Himself to His disciples, after that He was risen from the dead.”

(Acts 3:14-15) “But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; {15} And killed the Prince of Life, Whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.”

(Acts 4:1-2) “And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, {2} Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus The Resurrection from the dead.”

(Acts 4:10) “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by Him doth this man stand here before you whole.”

(Acts 10:40-42) “Him God raised up the third day, and showed Him openly; {41} Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with Him after He rose from the dead. {42} And He commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is He which was ordained of God to be The Judge of quick and dead.”

(Acts 13:29-38) “And when they had fulfilled all that was written of Him, they took Him down from the tree, and laid Him in a sepulchre. {30} But God raised Him from the dead:{31} And He was seen many days of them which came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses unto the people. {32} And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that The Promise which was made unto the fathers, {33} God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that He hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten thee.’ {34} And as concerning that He raised Him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, He said on this wise, ‘I will give you the sure mercies of David.’ {35} Wherefore He saith also in another psalm, ‘Thou shalt not suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption.’ {36} For David, after he had served his own generation by the Will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: {37} But He, Whom God raised again, saw no corruption.{38} Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:”

(Acts 17:2-3) “And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures, {3} Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, Whom I preach unto you, is Christ.”

(Acts 17:30-32) “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: {31} Because He hath appointed a day, in the which He will Judge the world in righteousness by that Man Whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead. {32} And when they heard of The Resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, ‘We will hear thee again of this matter’.”

(Acts 23:6-8) “But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of The Hope and Resurrection of the dead I am called in question. {7} And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided. {8} For the Sadducees say that there is no Resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.”

(Acts 24:15) “And have Hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a Resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.”

(Acts 24:19-21) “Who ought to have been here before thee, and object, if they had ought against me. {20} Or else let these same here say, if they have found any evil doing in me, while I stood before the council, {21} Except it be for this one voice, that I cried standing among them, Touching The Resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day.”

(Acts 26:22-23) “Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: {23} That Christ should sufferand that He should be The First that should rise from the dead, and should show Light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.”

(Rom 1:3-4) “Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; {4} And declared to be The Son of God with Power, according to The Spirit of Holiness, by The Resurrection from the dead:”

(Rom 4:22-25) “And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. {23} Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; {24} But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; {25} Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”

(Rom 6:3-13) “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? {4} Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the Glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. {5} For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also of His Resurrection: {6} Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. {7} For he that is dead is freed from sin. {8} Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him: {9} Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. {10} For in that He died, He died unto sin once: but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God. {11} Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. {12} Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. {13} Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and yourmembers as instruments of righteousness unto God.”

(Rom 7:3-4) “So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. {4} Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the Law by the Body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to Him Who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.”

(Rom 8:11-13) “But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you. {12} Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. {13} For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”

(Rom 10:6-9) “But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, ‘Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) {7}Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)’ {8} But what saith it? ‘The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart:’ that is, the word of faith, which we preach; {9} That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

(Rom 11:15) “For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but Life from the dead?”

(Rom 14:8-10) “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. {9} For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and living. {10} But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before The Judgment Seat of Christ.”

(1 Cor 15:12-58) “Now IF Christ be preached that He rose from the dead, THEN how say some among you that there is no Resurrection of the dead? {13} But IF there be noResurrection of the dead, THEN is Christ not risen: {14} And IF Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. {15} Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ: Whom He raised not up, IF so be that the dead rise not. {16} For IF the dead rise not, THEN is not Christ raised: {17} And IF Christ be not raised, THEN your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. {18} THEN they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. {19} IF in this life only we have hope in Christ, THEN we are of all men most miserable. {20} But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become The Firstfruits of them that slept. {21} For since by man came death, by Man came also The Resurrection of the dead. {22} For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. {23} But every man in his own order: Christ The Firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His Coming. {24} Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up The Kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. {25} For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His Feet. {26} The last enemy that shall be destroyed isdeath. {27} For He hath put all things under His Feet. But when He saith all things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted, which did put all things under Him. {28}And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. {29} Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, IF the dead rise not at all? why THEN are they baptized for the dead? {30} And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? {31} I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. {32} If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die. {33} Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. {34} Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame. {35} But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? {36} Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: {37} And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: {38} But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed its own body. {39} All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. {40} There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial isanother. {41} There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. {42} So also is The Resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: {43} It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in Power:{44} It is sown a natural body; it is raised a supernatural body. There is a natural body, and there is a supernatural body. {45} And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the Last Adam was made a quickening Spirit. {46} Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.{47} The first man is of the earth, earthy: the Second Man is The Lord from Heaven. {48} As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. {49} And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. {50} Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit The Kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. {51} Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, {52} In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. {53} For this corruptiblemust put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. {54} So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in Victory. {55} death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? {56} The sting of deathis sin; and the strength of sin is the Law. {57} But thanks be to God, which giveth us the Victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. {58} Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

(Gal 1:1) “Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, Who raised Him from the dead;)”

(Eph 1:19-20) “And what is the exceeding greatness of His Power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His Mighty Power, {20} Which He wrought in Christ, when Heraised Him from the dead, and set Him at His Own Right Hand in the Heavenly places,”

(Eph 5:13-14) “But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. {14} Wherefore He saith, ‘Awake thou that sleepest, andarise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee Light’.”

(Phil 3:10-11) “That I may know Him, and the Power of His Resurrection, and the fellowship of His Sufferings, being made conformable unto His Death; {11} If by any means I might attain unto The Resurrection of the dead.”

(Col 1:17-22) “And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. {18} And He is the Head of the Body, the Church: Who is The Beginning, The Firstborn from the dead;that in all things He might have The Preeminence. {19} For it pleased the Father that in Him should all Fulness dwell; {20} And, having made peace through the Blood of His Cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in Heaven. {21} And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies inyour mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled {22} In the Body of His Flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His Sight:”

(Col 2:11-12) “In whom also ye are circumcised with the Circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: {12}Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the Operation of God, Who hath raised Him from the dead.”

(1 Th 1:10) “And to wait for His Son from Heaven, Whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from The Wrath to come.”

(2 Tim 2:8) “Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my Gospel:”

(Heb 6:1-2) “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, {2} Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of Resurrection of the dead, and of eternal Judgment.”

(Heb 11:17-19) “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the Promises offered up his only begotten son. {18} Of whom it was said, ‘That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:’ {19} Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.”

(Heb 13:20) “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that Great Shepherd of the sheep, through the Blood of the everlasting Covenant,”

(1 Pet 1:3-4) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant Mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively Hope by The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, {4} To an Inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in Heaven for you,”

(1 Pet 1:21) “Who by Him do believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead, and gave Him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.”

(Rev 1:5) “And from Jesus Christ, Who is The Faithful Witness, and The First Begotten of the dead, and The Prince of the kings of the earth. Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His Own Blood,”

(Rev 11:18) “And the nations were angry, and thy Wrath is come, and the time of the deadthat they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the land.”

(Rev 20:5-6) “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is The First Resurrection. {6} Blessed and holy is he that hath part in The First Resurrection: on such the second Death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”

Bodily Resurrection – Charles Spurgeon

The doctrine of the resurrection of the dead is a doctrine peculiar to Christianity. The heathen, by the feeble light of nature, were able to spell out the truth of the immortality of the soul. Those professors of religion who deny that immortality, are not so far advanced in learning as the heathen themselves.

When you meet with any who think that the soul of man may possibly become annihilated, make them a present of that little catechism brought out by the Westminster Assembly, which bears the title, “Catechism for the Young and Ignorant.” Let them read that through, and begin to understand that God hath not made man in vain.

The resurrection of the body was that which was new in the apostolic times. When Paul stood up on Mars hill, in the midst of the learned assembly of the Areopagites, had he spoken to them about the immortality of the soul, they would not have laughed; they would have respected him, for this was one of the sublime truths which their own wise men had taught, but when he went on to assert that the flesh and blood which was laid in the tomb should yet arise again, that bones which had become the dwelling place of worms, that flesh which had corrupted and decayed, should actually start afresh into life, that the body as well as the soul should live, some mocked, and others said, “We will hear thee again of this matter.”

The fact is, reason teaches the immortality of the spirit, it is revelation alone which teaches the immortality of the body. It is Christ alone who hath brought life and immortality to light by the gospel. He was the clearest proclaimer of that grand truth. Albeit that it had lain in the secret faith of many of the ancient people of God before, yet he it was who first set forth in clear terms the grand truth that there should be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust.

As far as I know, the doctrine has not been disputed in the Christian church. There have been some few heretics who have denied it at divers times, but they have been so few, so utterly insignificant, that it is not worthwhile to take any notice of their scruples, or of the objections which they have urged.

In order to affirm this, the ancient Christian church was in the habit in their creed of adding a sentence to the Article which runs thus:—”I believe in the resurrection of the dead.” They added, in Latin words to this effect:—”I believe in the resurrection of the dead, of this very flesh and blood.” I do not know that the addition was ever authorized by the church, but it was continually used, especially at the time when there was a discussion as to the truth of the doctrine of the resurrection of the body.

The very flesh and blood that is buried, the very eyes that are closed in death, the very hand which stiffens by my corpse, these very members shall live again—not the identical particles of the same matter any more than the self-same particles of the wheat spring up to make a blade, and to make full corn in the ear. Yet shall they be identical, in the true sense of the term, they shall spring up from this body—shall be the true result and development of this poor flesh and blood, which we now drag about with us here below.

Ten thousand objections have been raised against this, but they are all readily answerable. Some have said, “But when men’s bodies are dead, and are committed to the grave, they are often digged up, and the careless sexton mixes them up with common mould; nay, it sometimes happens that they are carted away from the churchyard, and strewn over the fields, to become a rich manure for wheat, so that the particles of the body are absorbed into the corn that is growing, and they travel round in a circle until they become the food of man. So that the particle which may have been in the body of one man enters into the body of another. Now,” say they, “how can all these particles be tracked?”

Our answer is if it were necessary, every atom could be traced. Omnipotence and Omniscience could do it. If it were needful that God should search and find out every individual atom that ever existed, he would be able to detect the present abode of every single particle.

But it is not the identity of the matter that will make positive identity. Are you not aware that our bodies are changing—that in about every ten years we have different bodies from what we had ten years ago? That is to say, by decay, and the continual wearing away of our flesh, there is not in this body I have here, a single particle that was in my body ten years ago, and yet I am the same man. I know I am precisely the same.

So you. You shall have been born in America, and lived there twenty years; you shall suddenly be transferred to India, and live there another twenty years; you come back to America to see your friends—you are the same man, they know you, recognize you, you are precisely the same individual; but yet philosophy teaches us a fact which cannot be denied—that your body would have changed twice in the time you have been absent from your friends; that every particle is gone, and has had its place supplied by another; and yet the body is the same.

So that it is not necessary there should be the same particles; it is not needful that you should track every atom and bring it back in order that the body should preserve its identity.

Have you never heard the story of the wife of Peter Martyr, a celebrated reformer, who died some years before the time of Queen Mary? Since his enemies could not reach his body, they took up the body of his wife after she was dead, and buried it in a dunghill. During the reign of Elizabeth, the body was removed from its contemptuous hiding-place; it was then reduced to ashes. In order that the Romanists, if they should ever prevail again, might never do dishonor to that body, they took the ashes of Peter Martyr’s wife, and mixed them with the reputed ashes of a Romish saint. Mixing the two together, they said, “Now these Romanists will never defile this body, because they will be afraid of desecrating the relics of their own saint.”

Perhaps some wiseacres may say, “How can these two be separated?” Why, they could be divided readily enough if God willed to do it; for granted that God is omniscient omnipotent, and you have never to ask how, for Omniscience and Omnipresence put the question out of court, and decide the thing at once. Besides, it is not necessary that it should be so. The life-germs of the two bodies may not have mixed together. God has set his angels to watch over them, as he set Michael to watch over the body of Moses, and he will bring out the two life-germs, and they shall be developed and the two bodies shall start up separately at the sound of the archangel’s trump.

Remember, then, and doubt not that the very body in which you sinned shall be the very body in which you shall suffer in hell; and the body in which you believe in Christ, and in which you yield yourselves to God, shall be the very body in which you shall walk the golden streets, and in which you shall praise the name of God for ever and ever.

Did Jesus Return In AD 70? Part 2 – Sirrod

Recently, I was approached by a hyper-preterist/universalist who challenged me to stop discussing the eternality of Hell when I open-air preach. Read the original post here.

I have split the subsequent debate into 2 sections… A discussion on the Eternality of Hell: Part One &Part Two. And this broader discussion on whether the presupposition of Jesus’ Return in 70 AD is true.Read Did Jesus Return in 70 AD? Part One

Eusebius of Caesarea
NOTE: I took a calculated risk in asking for historical documentation that shows secular historians and early Church fathers believing that Jesus returned in 70 AD. To my knowledge there is ABSOLUTELY NO ONEfrom the period that believed that Jesus returned in 70 AD. Even if they could find “one”, remember that this was to be a MOMENTOUS event. The first coming of Christ was marked with a volume of writings about the event and the theological significance of every word and deed. (I am speaking of the New Testament). If the early Church saw the return of Christ why is there NO cannonized documentation of the event? Whenever prophecy is spoken and fulfilled there is Scriptural record of the fulfillment. Our New Testament was cannonized 100s of years after His supposed second coming. Why was that not included?Hint: Because it never happened.
 

Preterists cling hard and fast to Eusebius of Caesarea because some of his writings (Specifically, those concerning Daniel’s 70 weeks) are preterist. Again, I want to make a distinction between Partial Preterism (Orthodox Preterism) and Full-Preterism (Hyper-Preterism). The first is an acceptable eschatological position to take. The second is heresy. As you will see below, Eusebius’ works are ripped out of context to make it seem like he believed Jesus returned. The poor research on this topic and frankly, lack of critical thinking compounds the deception.

My response to the “historical evidences” was the debate stopper. I have not been contacted again.

In my previous email I have asked for specific historical records that declare that Jesus returned in 70 AD.This is the response I recieved:

      Jerry, I’d like to show you the below quotes. If you won’t believe Jesus, that He promised His appearing in their generation, then maybe you’ll believe eye-witnesses.

 

Josephus (1st century) wrote. (Emphasis ours.)

        “Besides these [signs], a few days after that feast, on the one- and-twentieth day of the month Artemisius, [Jyar,] a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared; I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sun-setting,

chariots and troops of soldiers in their armour were seen running about among the clouds

        , and surrounding of cities. Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the] temple, as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place,

they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, “Let us remove hence” 

        (Wars, VI-V-3).

Tacitus (also 1st century) wrote,

In the sky appeared a vision of armies in conflict, of glittering armour. 

        A sudden lightening flash from the clouds lit up the Temple. The doors of the holy place abruptly opened, a superhuman voice was heard to declare that

the gods were leaving it

        , and in the same instant came the rushing tumult of their departure” (Histories, v. 13).

Eusebius (A.D. 325), quoting from the Latin Josephus, in the fourth century wrote,

        “For before the setting of the sun chariots and armed troops were seen throughout the whole region in mid-air,

wheeling through the clouds

         and encircling the cities” (Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, Book 3, Ch. 8 ).

Eusebius (260 – 340) Bishop of Cesarea, in Palestine

        “And all these things were fulfilled when the seventy weeks were completed at the date of our Saviour’s Coming.”

Source here.

Jerry, I anticipate that you’ll respond to the above, saying that these are just men’s perceptions and hear-say. If you do then I’m darned if I do and darned if I don’t. You won’t believe Scripture, and you won’t believe non-scripture. This discussion is hopeless, I’m thinking. :-(

My Response:

      I don’t mean to be flippant, but is this it? Hyper-preterists have two historians saying something “divine-like” happened?

(This is the argument that I asked you to refrain from using)

       Rev 1:7 “Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.” Catch that?

“EVERY EYE WILL SEE HIM”

       It seems reasonable to expect ONE historian to record seeing Jesus with such a prediction. You’ve offered none. I am wondering why you cannot see the blatant absence of proof for your presupposition?

 

Quoting Eusebius is really deceptive on a number of levels. (I realize that you are grabbing from other sources and assuming the originator vetted the information—I do not think you are deceptive.) First and foremost Eusebius of Caesarea is one of the authors of the Nicene Creed of 325. “When the Council of Nicaea met in 325, Eusebius was prominent in its transactions. He was not naturally a spiritual leader or theologian, but as a very learned man and a famous author who enjoyed the special favour of the emperor, he came to the fore among the 300 members of the council. The confession which he proposed became the basis of the Nicene Creed.” (Wikipedia) Here is the confession he proposed…

The Nicene Creed 325 CE LPNF ser. 2, vol. 14, 3. (Emphasis add)

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten of his Father, of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten not made, being of one substance (homoousios) with the Father. By whom all things were made, both which is in heaven and in earth. Who for us men and for our salvation came down [from heaven] and was incarnate and was made man. He suffered and the third day he rose again, ascended into heaven. And he shall come again to judge both the living and the dead. And [we believe] in the Holy Ghost. And whosoever shall say that there was a time when the Son of God was not, or that before he was begotten he was not, or that he was made of things that were not, or that he is of a different substance or essence [from the Father] or that he is a creature, or subject to change or conversion–all that so say, the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes them.

Have you read the works of Eusebius? The quote you reference has no connection to the events of 70 A.D. Period. It is from Demonstratio Evangelica or in English “The Proof of the Gospel” which is a 10 chapter long defense of Jesus’ FIRST coming. Eusebius was preterist in that he believed that the prophecy of Daniel’s 70 weeks was fulfilled in the first coming of Christ. He wanted to solidly found the incarnation as fulfilled prophecy. If you read “Demonstratio Evangelica” and/or“Theophania” with the understanding that he both wrote and affirmed the Nicene Creed you will see that at every mention of the “coming” of Christ he was speaking of Christ’s incarnation. Find his writings here: http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/

I encourage you to also read Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History. You may find it here:http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/250101.htm It is shocking that this supposed hyper-preterist does not mention the second coming of Christ even once in his history of the Church. I hope you find that as odd as I do?

Furthermore, Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History is one of the most sited sources for a late writing of John’s Revelation! Please review Ecclesiastical History Book III Chapters 18-19. In it you will find that Eusebius puts the Apostle John on Patmos during the reign of Domitain. Clearly Eusebius did not believe the prophecies in the Book of Revelation were in anyway fulfilled in 70 A.D.

Do you realize that not a single early church father believed that Jesus returned in 70 A.D.? Do you realize that not a single period historian recorded the return of Jesus? With no proof of your presumption hyper-preterism is defeated at its root. Jesus simply did not come. He must have meant something different than what you presume He did in Matthew 24:34.

Your friend.

Jerry

P.S. BTW… all three sources are hear-say. :-)

Did Jesus Return in AD 70? Part 1 – Sirrod

Recently, I was approached by a hyper-preterist/universalist who challenged me to stop discussing the eternality of Hell when I open-air preach. Read the original post here.

I have split the subsequent debate into 2 sections… A discussion on the Eternality of Hell: Part One &Part Two. This post is about the much larger and more significant section… Did Jesus Return in 70AD?

Here is a taste of the presuppositional tactics used to “support” the Hyper-Preterist position:

      Jerry, I have enjoyed our exchange. Talking about the Bible is one of my favorite things to do!

 

YOU SAID>> “I hope I am the first person you have attempted to teach these views to? James 3:1 tells us to “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.” It is one thing to sit under a false teacher, it is another to become a false teacher.”

Jerry, I fear no judgment. I think that Scripture shows that the judgment has been fulfilled. “Appeal to fear” isn’t therefore effective. That generation did not pass away until all those things took place (Matthew 23:36, 24:34). Show my preterism wrong. :-)

Matthew 16:27-28 “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS. Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom. ”

Revelation 22:12 “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. “

I think that while some standing there had not yet tasted death, Jesus with His angels came quickly and rendered to every man according to his deeds. Only those who had not recognized the time of their visitation were punished (Luke 19:43-44). Because we today have had no visitation of Jesus, to us the above warnings are non-applicable.

MY RESPONSE:

      My email was a warning to you as a friend. I expected the response would be something like…

“I hear the warning Jerry. I have thought through the fact that what I am teaching is considered heretical.” 

      This is not about being “right” for me. Please do not interpret my passion and forcefulness in the following remarks as me being angry or arrogant. To be true to my position I must plead with you to abandon the path you are on. I am truly concerned for you and others you may mislead into following your position.

 

Pascal’s wager comes to mind. If preterist-universalism is correct than I should have no fear that what I am teaching will put me under judgment. I can preach eternal damnation and the imminent return of Christ and be perfectly safe from any consequences. If however the position countless Christians hold—that Jesus will yet return to judge the world—is true then you especially will be judged. This is my second warning to you. Please be absolutely sure of your position. I beg you.

When I debate Atheists and Evolutionist I point out that Darwin himself said that in order for his theory to be true there must exist millions of transitional fossils that show the needed progression. This is what is called the “missing link.” The reality is that there are perhaps a handful of disputed fossils and a host of fabrications.

Similarly, in order for the Hyper-Preterist position to be true there must exist an abundance of historical evidence that our early Church fathers believed that Jesus returned in the 1st Century. I will concede that some of them believed that the first part of the Olivet prophecy was fulfilled in the 1st Century. However, all of them held that the second portion would be fulfilled at Christ’s still future return. Can you explain that?

Please explain to me why there are no secular historical records of Jesus return? I ask that you please not give me the standard preterist line that “Josephus and several other historians did in fact notice and record that what transpired in A.D. 70 was something ordain and likely divine.” That makes me laugh. Read Acts 1:11 and Revelation 1:7. Please to do not cut Luke off at 17:20-21 but continue to read through verse 24 “For just like the lightning, when it flashes out of one part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will the Son of Man be in His day.” This is the MOST important event to take place in our history short of the first coming. There should be a verifiable written record by a host of Church fathers and secular historians. Where are they?

It seems ridiculous to me that the Church would miss the very event they most look forward to. If indeed the Spirit of Christ dwells in us, why has He not revealed to us that Jesus returned? The Holy Spirit in me should confirm with my spirit this immeasurable truth. He does not.

Anyone can bring a presupposition to scripture and proof-text verses to mean what they want. We see this all the time with cults. This is the very approach that hyper-preterist take with the second coming of Christ. They take the unverifiable presupposition “Christ returned spiritually in A.D. 70″ and interpret every verse accordingly. I can equally say that Jesus came back in 1945, that Hitler was the anti-christ, that His judgment was on the unbelieving Jews and that He then refounded the nation of Israel ushering in the new Jerusalem. Please do not bother proof-texting one more verse to me. It’s tiring trying to read scripture that you add emphasis to with bold and italics. Instead, please prove your presumption. Show me proof that he returned, not a verse that “makes sense” if he had. Do you see the difference?

You asked me to prove your preterism wrong. The burden of proof is on you. Prove to me that Jesus did return.

It seems you missed my point about Paul’s message in Athens. Why would Paul warn the non-Jewish Greeks to repent? Judgment did not fall on them at all. Likewise do not miss this point… 1 Peter 4:3-5 tells us that the Gentiles “will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” When did that happen? Romans 3:6 tells us that God will judge “the world.” This is not an isolated Jewish event. The ENTIRE world will be judged, both Jew and non-Jew. The non-Jewish names written in Romans 16, the reference to “all the churches of the Gentiles” 16:5 and the fact that in Romans 1 Paul identifies himself as one to bring obedience of faith to “all the Gentiles” all make me wonder who he meant by “all” in Romans 14:10 “For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.” When were all the Gentiles judged?

You said, “Sin was adequately punished when Jesus died on the Cross at His first coming.” How do you explain Peter and Paul declaring that people should repent after Jesus died? Why fear judgment when the sin was punished on the cross? More importantly why did Jesus declare after his death and resurrection, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem?” Luke 24:47 By “to all the nations” did Jesus mean to say “to all [the Jews who did not believe in me who are scattered among] the nations?”

You said, “Then [sin] passed away at His second [coming].” 1 John tells us that “sin is transgression of the law” more over it says that “all unrighteousness is sin.” Please show me from Scripture where these definitions are countermanded. Adultery, the seventh commandment, was declared a sin after Jesus death on the cross in Heb 13:4 “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” Is it now not a sin to commit adultery?

Do you see that full-preterism has concentric doctrinal affects that are heretical? If judgment has come, then…

    1. We need not evangelize the “lost.” They’re not lost.
    2. We may sin with no consequences. You can be a child sacrificing Satanist with no fear of God’s wrath.
    3. Jesus’ claims of exclusivity are irrelevant. All are in heaven now because of His death on the cross.
    4. Most of Scripture is irrelevant, it is fulfilled or simply does not apply post judgment.
    5. The doctrine of heaven is significantly modified to fit with the reality of our world. “Heaven” discriptives are simply dismissed as allegorical. 6. 7. 8. I could go on…

A distinction should be made between Partial Preterism (Orthodox Preterism) and Full-Preterism (Hyper-Preterism). The first is an acceptable eschatological position to take. The second is heresy.

The Dangerous Theological Errors of Hyper Preterism Part 4 Was Satan Really Destroyed in AD70 by Brian Simmons

If you’ve been around Hyper-Preterists for any amount of time, you’ll notice that one of the touchiest topic of discussion is the Millennium (Rev. 20: 1-6). Because Hyper-Preterists believe that “all Bible prophecy was fulfilled in A.D. 70,” they necessarily hold that Satan was cast into the lake of fire at the destruction of Jerusalem. This means, then, that the Millennium was a 40-year period of history, running (as generally supposed) from A.D. 30-70.

Is this theory correct? And if not, why not? If Satan was really cast into the lake of fire in A.D. 70, then he must have been bound in the first century. Therefore, we should expect to find some clear indications in Scripture that this was the case. All Hyper-Preterists can give us, however, is logical equations based on false premises. Of course, we know that the “binding of Satan” is a concept mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament. And it is perhaps for this reason that Hyper-Preterists place the Millennium as past-fulfillment.

During our Lord’s earthly ministry, it is evident that Satan’s goods were, in a certain sense, “spoiled” by Christ. For the Lord said: “How can one enter into a strong man’s house and spoil his goods, until he first bind the strong man, and then he will spoil his house?” (Matt. 12: 29).

As we know, Satan is the prince of this world (John 12: 3114: 3016: 11). Therefore, his “house” is the world, to which Christ, the Seed of the Woman, came. His authority over Satan was manifested during His ministry, as when He gave His disciples power over demons and unclean spirits.

But here’s the rub. Satan’s goods were spoiled because the Son of Man was personally present on earth. When Christ was present, Satan’s activities were curtailed. But notice that when He was about to return to the Father, Christ said: “Hereafter I will not talk much with you; For the prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in me” (John 14: 30).

Likewise, He told Peter: “Simon, Simon, Behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not” (Luke 22: 31-32). Is this any indication that Satan would be bound after Christ’s resurrection and ascension?

True, Christ gained victory over Satan in His glorious resurrection, and spoiled principalities and powers (Col. 2: 15). Yet that victory was personal, not vicarious. In order to share in His victory, we must be personally regenerated. As you’ll see, though, this has nothing to do with freeing whole “nations” from Satanic deception (as in Rev. 20: 3). In this dispensation, God is not dealing with nations, but with individuals.

As Scriptures indicate, Satan was free during the entire 40-year period that Hyper-Preterists call the Millennium. Let us look at some key texts in their chronological order, and we’ll see that all throughout this period, Satan was very much “in commission.”

[A.D. 33]: “But Peter said, Ananias, Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?” (Acts 5: 3).

[A.D. 45]: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4: 7).

[A.D. 53]: “Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us” (1 Thess. 2: 18).

[A.D. 57]: “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor. 5: 5).

[A.D. 57]: “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Cor. 2: 11).

[A.D. 58]: “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (Romans 16: 20).

[A.D. 59-60]: “Because your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5: 8).

[A.D. 59-60]: “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world [Gr. kosmoslieth in the wicked one” (1 John 5: 19).

[A.D. 60-62]: “Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that that ye may be tried” (Rev. 2: 10).

[A.D. 63]: “According to the prince of the power of the air, that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2: 2).

[A.D. 67]: “Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Tim. 1: 20).

[A.D. 67]: “For some are already turned aside after Satan” (1 Tim. 5: 15).

More examples could be cited. However, the twelve given, which span the 40-year period under consideration, should be sufficient to convince anyone thatHyper-Preterism is wrong. To say that, despite the evidence, Satan was really “bound” during this whole period, is to override the plain statements of Scripture, and obliterate all distinctions between fact and fiction. If there is no such thing as recognizable fulfillment, then one can prove anything he or she likes. This is exactly what Hyper-Preterists have done.

Hyper-Preterists conveniently forget that Satan could not possibly be bound during the period covered by Acts. For his binding is contemporaneous with the reign of the martyrs persecuted by Antichrist during the last 3 1/2 years of the age. The first resurrection is the reward given these martyrs when they are raised from the dead upon Christ’s return (see Rev. 20: 4).

Now we have a bit of an anachronism to deal with. For Hyper-Preterists claim that Nero was the Antichrist! Therefore, Nero must have operated during the last half of the 70th week (the 42 months of Revelation). If Hyper-Preterism is correct, the key should fit the lock. But does it?

I can’t tell you how much material I’ve waded through that “proves” this 42 months occurred during the Roman siege of Jerusalem (A.D. 67-70). Ok. But was Nero destroyed by Christ’s parousia in A.D. 70? No, He committed suicide in A.D. 68. That’s a couple years too early, isn’t it?

Then, let’s not forget, the martyrs killed by the beast during the whole “tribulation period” are not raised until Christ returns and casts him and the false prophet into the lake of fire (Rev. 19: 20). It is THENthat the Millennial reign takes place, and Satan is bound.

What does this prove? Well, it shows, once again, that the Hyper-Pret view of the Millennium is inconsistent with the statements of Scripture. For if the Millennial reign is the reward of martyrs killed during the tribulation; and if that tribulation already happened in A.D. 67-70; then it is impossible to place the binding of Satan any earlier than the destruction of Jerusalem. For if it happened earlier, the saints wouldn’t have had any time to reign. Since their reign is concurrent with the binding of Satan (Rev. 20: 2), it is obvious that the Millennium was still future when John received his visions.

And this is exactly what the Book of Revelation states. It deals with events that were yet future when John wrote. “Write therefore what things thou sawest, and what they are [i.e., what they signify]; even what things are about to happen to hereafter” (Rev. 1: 19). We follow the rendering given by Alford, Rotherham, Stuart, Bullinger, and others. This verse, which stands as a key to interpreting the Apocalyptic visions, reveals the fallacy of the Hyper-Preterist argument. If John visions pertained to things which were about to happen, then how could the binding of Satan be a past event when John wrote? Impossible.

Of course, Hyper-Preterists do not give up. Present them with this evidence, and they’ll start whining about parallels between Daniel 12 and Revelation 20, or go down other dead-end trails– anything to support their scheme that “all Bible prophecy” was fulfilled in A.D. 70.

But without clear Scriptural proof that Satan was bound during the 40 years following Christ’s ascension, it is impossible to conclude that he was cast into the lake of fire in A.D. 70. All parties agree that Satan’s 1000-year binding precedes his ultimate destruction in the lake of fire. So, if Satan was cast into the lake of fire in A.D. 70, then he must have been bound during the period covered by the book of Acts and Paul’s earlier prison epistles. We’ve seen, however, that this isn’t the case.

Conversely, if Satan was not bound in the first century, then he could not have been cast into the lake of fire in A.D. 70. This means that if he wasn’t cast into the lake of fire in A.D. 70, then there was no second coming of Christ, no “Great White Throne Judgment” and no resurrection.

Hymeneus and Philetus by Brian Simmons

In Paul’s second letter written to Timothy (written about A.D. 68), the apostle makes reference to two individuals — Hymeneus and Philetus — who were making shiprwreck of the Christian faith, by preaching that the resurrection had already happened (2 Tim. 2: 17). The preceding context informs us that their doctrine may have arisen from failure to “rightly divide the word of truth” (see 2 Tim. 2: 15-16).

Thankfully, Paul condemned the teachings of Hymeneus and Philetus in the strongest terms, sounding out a warning to those who in after years would depart from vital truth concerning the resurrection. Regardless of his warnings, however, the same teaching is held today by men who say that the second coming is a past event. Their doctrine is known as “Hyper-Preterism.”

What did Hymeneus and Philetus actually teach? If we can reconstruct, even in a general fashion, the doctrine they delivered, we may help readers to understand why the two men were condemned so strongly by Paul. This will help us to fix our exegetical anchors in the Word of Truth, so that when we deal with the subject of the resurrection we will not be led into error as they were.

I suppose that Hymeneus and Philetus had been with Paul long enough to know — in outline, at least — what he taught regarding the resurrection. It is certain that they must have known one predominant fact: that the resurrection would only occur at the parousia of Christ.

(1 Corinthians 15: 23) “But every man in his own order: Christ the first-fruits; afterward, they that are Christ’s at His parousia.”

Of course, Christ had told Peter, James, John, and Andrew that the parousia (translated “coming” inMatthew 24: 3) would occur immediately after the Great Tribulation, and be preceded by signs in the heavens, which could not be missed (see Matthew 24: 29-30).

The sign of the “telos” (i.e., last half of Daniel’s 70th week) was to be the setting up of the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, in the holy place of the temple (Matt. 24: 15; cf. Dan. 9: 27; 11: 31; 12: 11). Every Jew having knowledge of Christ’s words would have been on the lookout for a fulfillment of the events prophesied in Daniel 11: 31-45; for it was “at that time” that Michael would stand up for the children of Israel, and the Great Tribulation would commence (see Dan. 12: 1-2). This would bring about the refinement, purging, and eventual restoration of the covenant nation (Isaiah 48: 10-11Jeremiah 30: 7Ezekiel 20: 33-4322: 17-22Malachi 3: 3-4).

Even with these facts in mind, though, we are not sure whether Hymeneus and Philetus ever had access to the three synoptic Gospels. It is likely that the two men had only heard Paul’s teachings of grace and reconciliation. If they had read the Olivet Discourse, however, or heard it orally recited, they must have spiritualized the parousia in the same manner that modern day Hyper-Preterists do. Unfortunately, that is something which we are unable to confirm.

Nevertheless, one thing is certain. Hymeneus and Philetus could not have missed the fact that the resurrection would take place at Christ’s second advent. Therefore, by relegating the resurrection to past-fulfillment, they must have also viewed the second coming as a past event. From this it is obvious that Hymeneus and Philetus were the very first Hyper-Preterists.

How could these two men, instructed by the great apostle Paul, have ever been so foolish as to say that the second coming of Christ, and resurrection of believers, had already happened? Being Gentiles, they may have been strongly tinged with heathen philosophy. The pagan concepts of life after death, and the immortality of the soul, may have led them to see the resurrection as something attainable apart from any physical return of Christ.

But there is a better answer, I believe. If they had been with Paul prior to his imprisonment at Rome (and it likely that they had heard his teachings when Paul ministered the Gospel during his two-year stay at Ephesus), then they might have noticed the difference between Paul’s teachings before and after theActs 28 council, when the Jewish leaders of the Dispersion formally rejected the offer of the kingdom. This was a dispensational crisis, for it marked the period when the Jews as a nation lost their religious priority over the Gentiles.

In Paul’s prison epistles written after Act 28, the parousia, which had been so prominent in his earlier teachings, is nowhere alluded to. True, we have the “blessed hope” (Titus 2: 13), as well as the teaching concerning our Lord’s “epiphaneia.” Yet are the two the same? To one ignorant of the truth concerning the “Dispensation of the Mystery” (Eph. 3: 9), it may seem strange that in the later Pauline epistles, the apocalyptic character of our Lord’s second coming is nowhere to be seen. The word “apocalupsis” is not even found in Paul’s seven epistles written after Acts 28.

Then there is a lack of teaching concerning the ordinances. The administering of baptism and the Lord’s supper are not referred to in Paul’s later epistles. While the verb “to baptize” appears 12 times in the letters written to the ThessaloniansCorinthiansGalatians, and Romans, no mention is made of it in EphesiansPhilippiansColossiansTitus, and 1 & 2 Timothy. A similar silence is noticed in regard to the keeping of the Lord’s supper. While the earlier epistles contain some 15 references to the loaf and the cup, not a single reference can be found in Paul’s epistles written after the Acts 28conference.

Then, too, in the earlier epistles we read about prophesying, as well as “tongues” and gifts of healing. In the later writings, no mention is made of prophesying and tongues, nor is there any indication that Paul’s healing gifts were in operation when he penned his second epistle to Timothy (see Phil. 2: 261 Tim. 5: 232 Tim. 4: 20). This silence concerning so many elements connected with the once-impending “Day of the Lord,” certainly may have led led Hymeneus and Philetus to conclude that Christ had already returned “spiritually.” And because Paul taught no such doctrine, their teaching was likened to a canker that would eat away at the faith of the apostolic churches.

And that is precisely what happened. There is evidence in Paul’s second epistle to Timothy, that most of his hearers had departed from the faith concerning the administration of the mystery.

(2 Timothy 1: 15) “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me.

This departure from sound doctrine would have made it very easy for men like Hymeneus and Philetus to promulgate their false doctrine concerning a past second coming of Christ. After all, even if their teachings had received opposition, couldn’t they have quoted from Paul’s earlier writings to show that perhaps the apostle was wrong?

Around A.D. 57-58, Paul had stressed the imminence of the parousia of Christ. The Corinthian church was urged to “come behind in no gift; waiting for the APOCALYPSE of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1: 7). Paul certainly included himself in this hope; even the hope of the resurrection, which would happen when Christ returned from heaven.

(1 Cor. 15: 51-52) “Behold, I show you a mystery; WE (Paul included) shall not all sleep, but WE shall all be changed; In a moment, in the twinkling of the eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and WE (Paul included)shall be changed.”

Notwithstanding the then-imminence of the second advent, and the fact that Paul expected to be among those who would be changed without dying, the apostle later expressed doubts as to whether he would attain to the resurrection of the dead (Phil. 3: 11-12). This was in A.D. 62. And in his second epistle to Timothy (A.D. 68), he believed he would die before the coming of Christ took place (2 Timothy 4: 6-8).

How easy it would have been for Hymeneus and Philetus to take hold of Paul’s apparent contradictory statements, and to assert that the apostle was in error; that Christ had already returned, and the resurrection had taken place! All this because of ignorance concerning the dispensation of the mystery.

Because the mystery falls into the parenthetical period between Israel’s “rejection” (in Acts 28) and their ultimate “renewal” (when the broken-off events of the Pentecostal period take up their course again), such false teachers as Hymeneus and Philetus did not see that the parousia had already beenpostponed in Acts 28. Because Paul no longer taught that the day of the Lord was “near” or “at hand,” they blindly concluded that it must have already happened. And so, (whether they knew it or not), the two men became the “de facto” founders of the Hyper-Preterist heresy.

What Death Did Adam Die? – Brian Simmons

One of the distinctives ofHyper-Preterism is the teaching that death was completely destroyed in A.D. 70.  Because there was no verifiable resurrection at that time, Hyper-Preterists claim that death is “spiritual” or “covenantal.”  But Hyper-Preterists change the meaning of key texts, forcing the evidence to bolster their own position.

At a recent Hyper-Preterist conference in Nebraska, a fairly well-known speaker encouraged Hyper-Preterists in their views by assuring them that the death that Adam died was entirely spiritual.  Such assurance is needed, for the doctrines of Hyper-Preterismare not found in the Bible!

When asked what death Adam died, I reply:the death of the entire man.  Man is composed of soul and body, and so death has two dimensions.  Adam died both spiritually and physically.  And he died in the very day he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Now, I can picture the Hyper-Preteristscratching his head, and saying: “No he didn’t!”  After all, it is believed among Hyper-Preterists that because Adam didn’t physically die in the day he ate of the forbidden fruit, that death cannot be physical.  Therefore it must be spiritual, or else covenantal.

Well, we know that Adam and Eve died spiritually when their eyes were opened, and they were ashamed (Genesis 3: 7).  This caused them to hide from the presence of the Lord, and cover their nakedness with fig-leaf aprons.  These historical facts have spiritual significance.  For the guilty sinner knows that he is condemned; and yet, instead of seeking mercy from God, he covers his nakedness with his works.

Adam and Eve, however, are to be treated with some leniency for not fleeing to God immediately, for the message of the Gospel had not been given!  But after it was given, and the promise made that the Seed of the Woman should bruise the serpent’s head (Genesis 3: 15), they were free to accept the mercy that was extended to them.

By some Bible students it is thought that the time of their hiding from God’s presence was three hours, corresponding to the three hours when the sun was darkened at our Lord’s crucifixion (see Matt. 27: 45).  I believe that is the case.  At any rate, it is clear that Adam and Eve suffered spiritual death the moment they ate of the forbidden fruit.  So in that regard, the punishment was levied that day.

But what about physical death?  How did they die the same day they ate of the fruit?  The answer is quite simple, and involves the Gospel that was preached to them by God.  In Genesis 3: 21 it is written: “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.”

The answer: Adam and Eve died physically in the person of their substitute, a slain lamb.  Remember, Christ is called “The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13: 8).  The title has no significance unless it points back to that vicarious sacrifice which took place in Eden.  Adam and Eve didn’t have to die physically themselves, because a slain animal died in their stead.

Isn’t this part and parcel of the “everlasting Gospel“?  For there can be no “good news” without a shedding of blood.  It is the blood that maketh atonement. (Leviticus 17: 11).  Wherefore God, after preaching the Gospel to our first parents, ordained that an innocent lamb should be slain, that atonement might be made for their sin.  And because their transgression was covered by the blood, they left the Garden without dying.

Notice, however, that Adam and his wife were then driven from Eden, and prevented from eating of the tree of life (Gen. 3: 22-24).  The reason?  “Lest he should eat, and live forever.”  This tells us that if Adam and Eve had eaten of the tree of life, they would have lived forever!  Lived how?  Spiritually or physically?  Obviously, in a physical sense, for Adam and Eve had already spiritually died, but were still alive physically. They needed the tree in order to sustain the life that they had.  And because access to it was restricted, their physical death was made sure and certain.

Now, it is a fact that Adam died at 930 years of age (Gen. 5: 5).  Thus, if we take a “day of the Lord” as equivalent to 1000 years (2 Peter 3: 8), we see that Adam died within the limits of the first day.  Not the first creative day, but the first redemptive day.  For sin made necessary Christ’s redemptive work, and a new week of 1000-year days was set into operation on the 24-hour day that Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit.

The seventh day is the redemptive Sabbath — otherwise known as the Millennium — to which the saints look forward.  As Paul writes: “There remaineth therefore a sabbath-keeping(sabbatismos) to the people of God” (Hebrews 4: 9).  This sabbath-keeping is associated with that “better resurrection,” in which the promises made to the Fathers shall be fulfilled.  Until that resurrection occurs, death must continue.  But only in a limited sense.

Our Savior’s purpose was to annul death in two distinct stages, corresponding to His two advents.  The first advent took care of spiritual death.  The second advent will take care of physical death.

At our Lord’s ascension, it is said that He led forth a multitude of captives (Eph.  4: 8).  Who can these “captives” be, but those who were kept in Hades prior to Christ’s resurrection?  These were removed from the Paradise compartment of the underworld, and carried back to heaven to be with Christ.

Hence Paul, entertaining thoughts of departure from this world, could look forward to ”being with Christ, which is far better” (Phil. 1: 23).  And he could truthfully say that Christ “hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel“ (2 Tim. 1: 10).

Spiritual resurrection takes place at the regeneration of the believer, when he is “quickened” by Christ (Eph. 2: 15).  This work was complete in A.D. 30, at our Lord’s exaltation to His Father’s throne in heaven.  It did not require 40 years to be perfected.  If the Bible represents first-century believers as being spiritually “alive,” then no man has a right to say that this life was incomplete.  No.  Spiritual death was annulled at the Cross.

What therefore remains to be annulled but physical death?  This will occur at the Lord’s second advent, when the bodies of the saints will rise from the dust and be refashioned after the image of Christ.  This resurrection is yet future.  It was foreshadowed by Christ’s “first-fruits” resurrection (1 Cor. 15: 2023), and the raising of many saints from their graves (see Matt. 27: 52-53).

According to the law, the ”first-fruits“ demands a future harvest of the same nature and kind — not of something different.  Because fulfillment of the first-fruits resurrection was physical in nature, the harvest will also be physical.

By denying the above evidence, Hyper-Preterists lay themselves open to charges of willful rejection of the Scriptures.  Like the Pharisees and Sadducees of old, they have created their own religion in which they feel comfortable, and no amount of evidence can be presented to make them change their mind.

However, I trust it is clear to any honest and intelligent student of Scripture that the “death” brought upon the race by Adam includes physical death, which will one day be annulled at the glorious appearing of Jesus.  “For our seat of government (politeuma) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Phil. 3: 20-21).  Maranatha!

In Defense of the Apostles’ Creed by Brian Simmons

This article is written in response to a recent conversation with John Riffe. In discussing the issues of historicity, I told him that as it was impossible for two opposing parties to be right, I would have to agree with the party that has historical continuity of the faith, as it is not possible that the Holy Spirit could have failed to guide Christians into the truth for 2,000 years. Such a theory is not only ridiculous, but is frankly heretical. The opposition between our views, while never vehement, nevertheless became so sharp, that, like Barnabas and Paul, we were forced to part ways. Since that time, John has written attacks against the Apostles’ creed. And he has also refused to publish any more of my comments. Since this conduct does not agree with the principles of fair play, I wrote him telling him that I would issue a formal response to his article at http://prophecyandhistory.com/?q=node/323.

Let me start by giving my own opinion concerning the Apostles’ Creed. I do not believe that anyone can be saved unless he or she believes in the one faith delivered to the saints. I believe that this faith is contained in the Apostles’ Creed. Those who do not accept the creed I cannot accept as Christian brethren, and the church fathers would have supported me in this. How is one a Christian if he does not even believe in the tenets of Christianity? If there be many bodies with many different faiths, then I find no trace of them in Scripture. At any rate, the doctrine of “many bodies” does not concern me. My duty is to cleave to and defend the “One body” (Eph. 4: 4) that has the Apostolic power, gifts, and graces.

Preterism, as we all know, has had a history of dragging the truth down to the lowest possible standards. Preterists insist that they are Christians, but I think few of them really take their professions seriously. Even the Scribes and Pharisees maintained an outward form of religion; but Preterists cannot even do that. Most of them are of low moral character, not sticking to lie, cheat, or do anything they can to promote their views and overthrow the true faith. For all that, they are afraid to label their own beliefs orthodox or even stand behind one another. They will not even dare call themselves a church. Rather, they insist on being known as a “community.” Very well. Let the community either come to Christ to be cleansed, or remain without the assembly.

When we deal with Preterists, we must remember that they are people who have voluntarily separated from all of forms of orthodox religion. They have consistently declared, either by their speech or their actions, that they are enemies of any kind of orthodox futurism. Rebuke them, and, like Simon Magus, they shall only redouble their efforts against us. But their weapons are not sound. There are many holes and inconsistencies in their system to which their headstrong arrogance blinds them. Point these inconsistencies out, and watch them war against reason. Warring against the Bible is bad enough. But to insist on being irrational is to drag oneself down to the level of the brute beasts. Be men and at least agree to reason with us. But no. The groveling methods they use prevent them from lifting their eyes to the sun.

After a brief run-in with Hyper Preterism, it came as no surprise to me to learn that these men are implacable enemies of creeds and confessions. Their promiscuous standards of truth do not permit them to even frame any kind of formal creed for themselves, for they are constitutionally unable to believe in anything they assert. When one destroys the meaning of language, one must deal with the consequences. In pulling down the temple, one risks killing himself; and so, as a natural consequence of his actions, he only destroys his own faith. I believe this is the case with many Preterists. They cannot take seriously even their own beliefs anymore.

It’s nice to see that John Riffe, a former full preterist, made some effort to conform the Apostles’ Creed to his own Millennial system. But it would be more praiseworthy, I think, if he sought to conform his system to the creed. For rejection of the creed places him outside the ranks of orthodox Christianity. As I have told him many a time, there is only one faith and one body. The one body has always maintained and held the one faith as contained in the creed. If there is one body but many faiths, let us just throw away our Bibles and embrace Islam, Buddhism, or some other religion that knows what it is about.

In his recent article, I’ve noticed that John has cast doubt on the Apostolic authorship of the creed. That is fine. Let me say that the authorship of the creed is, in my mind, a red-herring. For anyone reading the creed can clearly see that the doctrines proclaimed therein are those taught by Scripture. What is important to me is not proving the authorship of the creed, but proving historical continuity of its teachings from the Apostolic period onwards. Surprisingly, this is very easy to do. Unless one chooses to completely set aside the testimony of the early church, one must concede that there isn’t a trace of evidence for the assertion that Christ returned in A.D. 70. This being the case, it is only natural that the earliest church documents agree with belief in a future second coming of Christ.

That some kind of formal creed was used by the early church may be inferred from 1 Cor. 15: 3; Heb. 6: 1-2; 2 Tim. 1: 13-14; 2 John 10; Jude 3, and similar passages. This is no new idea of my own, but has already been pronounced feasible by scholars such as Philip Schaff, S. Baring-Gould, and others. True, the apostles never enclosed such a formal creed in any of their own writings. The probable reason is that it wasn’t necessary. For the apostles handed the truth down to the their disciples, who handed it down to their disciples, and so on. The Ante-Nicene fathers are very clear in their statements concerning Episcopal succession. There is far more evidence in that matter than, perhaps, John Riffe supposes.

Although John has been unable to trace the creed prior to Tertullian, I have to say that he is mistaken. The earliest traces of a formula similar to that of the Apostles’ Creed may be found in Ignatius of Antioch, a disciple of John the Evangelist. In A.D. 107 he wrote: “Stop your ears, therefore, when anyone speaks to you at variance with Jesus Christ, who was descended from David, and was also of Mary; who was truly born, and did eat and drink. He was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate; He was truly crucified and [truly died], in the sight of beings in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth. He was also truly raised from the dead, His Father quickening Him, even as after the same manner His Father will so raise up us who believe in Him by Christ Jesus, apart from Whom we do not possess the true life.” (Epistle to the Trallians, ix).

Since Ignatius was a disciple of John, it is impossible that would have have derived his beliefs from a source other than the blessed Evangelist. That he is speaking of a resurrection of the flesh is evident when we consider that at that time, he was combating the errors of the Docetae, who held that Christ had an ethereal, non-human body. Thus, Ignatius confirms to his hearers that Christ was truly raised in his own flesh, and that we will be raised “after the same manner.” Polycarp, his brother in Christ (another disciple of John), also speaks of a future judgment and resurrection. (Epistle to the Philippians, ii, v, vi, xi).

Now Ireneaus was a disciple of Polycarp. And Ireneaus makes implicit statements regarding historic succession of the Apostolic churches. In Book III of his work Against Heresies(A.D. 180), he gives a detailed account of the early succession of churches (cap. 2, 3, 4, 5), and goes on to affirm that nowhere else outside of the One Church is the truth to be found. What is this truth? He tells us clearly in the following words: “Believing in one God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and all things therein, by means of Christ Jesus the Son of God; Who, because of His surpassing love towards His creation, condescended to be born of the virgin, He Himself uniting man through Himself to God, and having suffered under Pontius Pilate, and rising again, and having been received up in splendor, shall come in glory, the Savior of those who are saved, and the Judge of those who are judged, and sending into eternal fire those who transform the truth and despise His Father and His advent” (cap. 4).

I don’t think the words can be any clearer than that. If my friend John needs more proof of the historical continuity of the creed, I am not sure where to get it for him, as it is impossible to go back in time and ask the Apostles themselves. As in all cases of this nature, we must either believe or disbelieve the testimony that lies before us. I, for one, am a believer. For I have found it a principle of well-being not to go through life doubting everything that purports to be what it is. Doubt is opposed to faith and drags downward. But faith inspires upward. So, while we may not have all the answers now, it will be much safer for our souls if we simply accept and believe the testimony of men who spilt their own blood for the faith. I hope that John will agree with me on this.

He (Riffe) goes on to say that all Scripture was written from the pre-A.D. 70 time frame. I trust he knows, however, that this view does not represent the consensus of Bible scholars. The book of Revelation, for instance, cannot be traced prior to the end of Domitian’s reign. I admit, of course, the slim possibility of it being composed prior to A.D. 70. But let us look at it this way. If it first appeared around 97 A.D., then we may rest assured that it was not sitting in a corner for thirty years, but that it was being handed downward from disciple to disciple. If this view is feasible, then we have a right to expect some notification of its fulfillment, if such were the case. In other words, if the churches knew this book had already been fulfilled, then I’m sure they would have passed that knowledge along with the book. At least we should think so! But, no. Ireneaus, a grand-disciple of John the Evangelist, was a pre-Millennialist! And this only helps to confirm the view that the book was written during Domitian’s persecution.

Even though Preterists continue to argue over the supposed “internal evidence” of Revelation – as, for example, the Jewish temple being represented as still standing– this evidence is not at all conclusive, as the book is written largely in symbolic language. At any rate, what I am saying is this: that there is no evidence, here or elsewhere, that Christ ever returned in A.D. 70. Neither the early churches held this view, nor can any support be garnered from the New Testament writings themselves. Shocking as this may sound to Hyper-Preterists, nevertheless it is true. For there is no way the logical threads, faithfully followed out, ever lead to the conclusion that Christ returned in A.D. 70. Full Preterism comes about through an insufficient gathering of facts, followed by vigorous a priori kickback. I’ve already explained in previous articles why such a method is not acceptable. Let us drop this method, for it will never lead us anywhere except into deeper confusion.

Since the view that Christ returned in A.D. 70 is obviously what is preventing John from accepting the orthodox creeds, I urge him to re-examine his own conclusions. He seems to see in the creed some vague and elusive cessation of the parousia anticipation. However, I frankly do not see this at all. For if Christ is still sitting at the right hand of the Father, and the general judgment and resurrection are represented as still future, then the very opposite must be conceded. Rather, the creed itself states that the Second Coming is a future event. Please wake up, John. I am not at all your enemy. I am trying to lead you back to a common sense view of the Parousia. And in the weeks and moths to come I hope that others will see that what I am saying is correct.

As for the Patristic writers, I shall quote them freely. Far from being insufficient, the church Fathers constitute my largest source of ammunition against Preterism. As long as Christians are willing to look at the issues of historicity, I have no fear that pure Christianity will ever be pulled down. Of course we must remember that Satan is on the loose. An apostasy is raging, and many men have crept in unawares. But Paul tells us the reason why heresies are permitted to exist. “That they which are approved may be made manifest among you” (1 Cor. 11: 19). Heresies exist to refine and purify the righteous. Those deceivers and stewards of Satan have already proven by their fruits that they are bastard vines who have no part in Christ. So, “let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matt. 15: 14).

In the present article, I’d like to continue clearing up some of the statements that John Riffe has made concerning the Apostles’ Creed. It seems to be his intention to cast doubt on the creed in a number of ways: firstly, by placing in question its authorship; secondly, by noting a lack of urgency in the Parousia expectation; thirdly, by claiming that it was amended and embellished at divers periods of the church’s history; and fourthly, by pointing out the fact that it was never equated with the word of God. Although John has written some great material in the past, and while I appreciate his concerns, I do not subscribe to any method of argument which depends on the instillation of doubt in the minds of readers. In every event we must be watchful and diligent in our maintenance of evangelical standards. Let us beware of casting shadows. The children of God have not to do with darkness, but with light.

Satan used doubt-instilling methods when he enticed Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit. Tempting her to question the veracity of God’s word, he pointed out the desirability of the fruit itself – not telling her, however, that the good and evil were deceptively intermixed. The same spirit, and even the same modus operandi, underlies Hyper Preterism. In order for Hyper-Preterists to get others to eat from their tree, they rely on a number of devilish tactics. One of these involves planting doubt in the minds of God’s people as to the true meaning of the text. “Does the word of God really say that?”

They tell us that the Bible must be understood in a mystical and allegorical sense – notwithstanding that all the prophecies concerning our Savior’s first advent and Passion are clear and unambiguous. And yet the H.P.’s would like us to believe that all statements concerning the second coming are unclear and elusive! That is just one method they use. Another is to make themselves appear progressive, as it were, and on the “cutting edge” of theology. They pride themselves on their supposed ability to correctly read the texts. And yet their views cannot be found anywhere in the history of the church! Obviously, all such methods derive force from an evolutionary theory of doctrinal development. But the Holy Spirit does not work according to man’s theory of evolution. Let us pause and remember where evolution all started – at the Tower of Babel. It is essentially a product of the devil.

But Preterism and other heretical systems rely upon it. For they have no historicity to back up their claims. Their teachers plead for a “solo Scriptura” understanding. But the Scriptures do not speak for themselves. They must be interpreted. The evolutionists are not really saying that the Scriptures must be preferred, but that their interpretations must be preferred. That erroneous concept, however, has caused many to err from the truth. And I’m afraid that John has fallen into the snare. For a brief period I myself held a similar view. But I soon realized the flawed foundation on which it rests. For having been led by the Spirit to know that God’s purposes never fail, I soon discerned that the doctrines of theological evolution and isolated understanding are absolutely impossible. Let me use language that most “Reformed” Preterists will understand. If Hyper-Preterism is the truth, then God is not truly sovereign. If it took Christians 2,000 years to arrive at a correct system of doctrine, then the church can never really have been “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3: 15). This would also imply that orthodoxy was preceded by 1,900 years of heresy! Are one man’s teachings really enough to topple down centuries of church tradition? Think again. Such views are blasphemous and heretical, and must be rejected by every true child of God.

Besides, they are bogus and irrational. And those who cling to them are equally irrational. They are not to be listened to, but patiently withstood. While I am entirely against the heresy of Hyper-Preterism, I think that theological evolution and headstrong pride are the real enemies. And their popular reception would certainly account for the wholesale rejection of creeds and confessions. One who thinks he has ‘advanced’ above all others will disdain to follow the tried and tested paths, and hew out his own deceptive trails. But if a Christian separates himself from the great cloud of witnesses in the church, what is his true status in the body? This question will be a challenge to many. For it is clear to me that one who contemns Christ’s body has ostracized himself therefrom. He or she has fallen way from the true vine, and must be grafted back in again. Only faith will enable us to stand in Christ. But if we have not faith, we cannot be saved. For it is by faith alone that we have access to the grace wherein we stand (Romans 5: 2).

That others may not succumb to the deadly fate of apostasy, I have thought it expedient to counteract, as best I can, their insidious poison with the antidote of truth. Let us hope the medicine proves effective. Of course, the lack of spiritual power evinced by Preterism should tell us that it is not the authorized Gospel. And really, on a whole Preterism has had a poor history. It is interesting to note that, in spite of the push of academia during the 19th century to promote the doctrines of Preterism, the movement was completely wiped out within a short number of years. Every time Preterism has made an advance, Futurism has driven it back into the darkness where it belongs. I believe that Preterism, in its protean manifestations, will always fall under pure evangelical Christianity.

But let us get back to John’s contention that the creed was embellished many times throughout the years. It is true that the creed has come down to us in a number of forms. Yet none of these forms are contradictory. Rufinus, writing in 390 A.D., speaks of slight additions made to the creed by different churches. Nevertheless, all of the versions of the creed have come down to us agreeing in statement in structure. All affirm the session of the Son of God at the right hand of the Father. All affirm His coming thence to judge the living and the dead. All affirm a future resurrection of the flesh. These seem to be the articles with which John has the biggest problem. Because he has accepted the indefensible notion that Christ returned in A.D. 70, he has cast away the creed as erroneous. I, on the other hand, affirm the authority of the creed. Never has it been more needful for the children of God to cleave to the one true faith.

John is correct that the Nicene Creed differs somewhat from the Apostles’ Creed. Why? Because the former represents the Eastern church, which was at the time of its ratification (325 A.D.) being overrun by the heresy of Arianism. This creed contains clear statements regarding the homoousion, or co-essence of the Father and Son, which the Arian teachings denied. Thus, the creed was only enlarged as a measure to defend against heresy. The issue of embellishment does not prove that the creeds are unreliable. It only shows that creeds have, in all ages of church history, been necessary in combating different forms of false doctrine. Heresies have always existed in the church. It is important to have some external standard whereby we may test whether a man’s doctrines be true or false. If there is no other standard but the Bible alone, then all the heretics that ever vexed the church must stand on equal ground with those who maintained the true faith. This is what I mean when I accuse Hyper-Preterists of dragging the truth down to lowest possible standards. Let no man blur the distinctions between good and evil. The truth must always be exalted. And it will be!

One of the important amendments made to the Apostles’ Creed is the clause adopted by the Church of Aquileia, “Hujus carnis resurrectionem”- “the resurrection of this flesh.” Rufinus, the creed’s earliest expositor, explains this to us: “Our church, in teaching the faith, instead of “the Resurrection of the flesh,” as the creed is delivered in other churches, guardedly adds the pronoun ‘this’- ‘the resurrection of this flesh.’ ‘Of this,’ that is, no doubt, of the person who rehearses the creed, making the sign of the cross upon his forehead, while he says the word, that each believer may know that his flesh, if he have kept it clean from sin, will be a vessel of honor, useful to the Lord, prepared for every good work; but if defiled by sins, that it will be a vessel of wrath destined to destruction.” (Commentary on the Apostles’ Creed, xliii).

That is a case where embellishment became necessary to more clearly define the faith. Note that the heresy denying the resurrection of the flesh arose at an early epoch of the church’s history. The early church fathers are in general agreement that Simon Magus (Acts 8: 9 ff.) and his disciple Menander were the authors of the Gnostic heresy which denied the resurrection. So it is no wonder to find, at a very early date, true teachers doing all they could to combat this error. The creed came in very a propos to their efforts, for it provided a sure standard whereby a man’s teachings could be tested by laymen and ministers alike.

It would appear that John Riffe denies the resurrection of the flesh. Wherefore it is only natural that he should deny the creed. For if he accepted the creed, his system of theology would be destroyed. Thus, I cannot take seriously his implication that the Creed must be rejected because it was embellished at divers times. These are mere excuses made to break the authority of creeds, and yet the arguments John is using are so frail that they crumble at the slightest touch. To be fair, however, I will ask John if he can show me one instance in which any of the fundamental articles were changed. If he can, then I may well agree with him. But let’s be honest with ourselves. The Apostles’ Creed has always been the Apostles’ Creed, and always will be, to the world’s end!

John’s fourth remark was that the Creed was never equated with the word of God. This is correct. But neither should we expect it to be. And when we think it over, we must concede that it was an act of wisdom not to include it in Scripture. For if it were part of Scripture, it would now be subject to false interpretation by heretics! Frankly, I accept the traditional view that the Creed is a direct product of the blessed Apostles. And only those of the Higher Critical (that is, evolutionary) persuasion will seriously doubt its Apostolic authorship. Rufinus, in recording its history, informs us why the Creed was never committed to writing:

“It is called ‘Indicium’ or ‘Signum,’ a sign or token, because, at that time, as the Apostle Paul says, and as is revealed in the Acts of the Apostles, many of the vagabond Jews, pretending to be Apostles of Christ, went about preaching for gain’s sake or their belly’s sake, naming the name of Christ indeed, but not delivering their message according to the exact traditional lines. The Apostles therefore prescribed this formulary as a sign or token by which he who preached Christ truly, according to the Apostolic rule, might be recognized. Finally, they say that in civil wars, since the armor of both sides is alike, and the language the same, and the custom and mode of warfare the same, each general, to guard against treachery, is wont to deliver to his soldiers a distinct symbol or watchword- in Latin ‘signum’ or ‘indicium’-so that if one is met with, of whom it is doubtful to which side he belongs, being asked the symbol (watchword), he discloses whether he is friend or foe. And for this reason, the tradition continues, the Creed is not written on paper or parchment, but is retained in the hearts of the faithful, that it may be certain that no one has learnt it by reading, as is sometimes the case with unbelievers, but by tradition from the Apostles.” (Commentary on the Apostles’ Creed, ii).

So, according to the statements of Rufinus, the creed is a necessary aid in combating false teachers. It was not included in Scripture, because it was not to be read, but to be memorized. We must remember also, that the Creed was for centuries used as a baptismal formula, and in catechetical exercises. I remember years ago, when a child, having to recite the Creed during catechism. This ancient tradition goes back all the way to the days of the early church. And no one ever supposed that its absence from the Divine canon places its authority in question. Quite the contrary. The Reformers, far from denying the authority of the Creed, considered it a necessary part of Christian instruction. For instance, Section II of Luther’s Small Catechism (A.D. 1529) states that the creed “should be clearly and simply explained to every household by the head of the family.” The Heidelberg Catechism (A.D. 1563), asks (Question 22): “What is necessary for a Christian to believe?” The answer is: “All that is promised us in the Gospel, which the articles of our catholic, undoubted Christian faith teach us in sum.” Question twenty-three reads: “What are these articles?” In answer, the respondent recites the Apostles’ Creed.

The French Confession of faith (A.D. 1559) likewise considers the creeds to be authoritative. Also, in the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England (1563), the authority of creeds is expressed as follows: “The three creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasian Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles’ Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed: for they may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture.” Creedal authority is also enforced in the Anglican Catechism of 1549, as well as the Westminster Shorter Catechism of 1647. It is a base misconception that the Reformers, in working to cleanse the true faith from the accretions and corruptions of Romanism, ever intended to do away with the Creeds and Confessions. This notion, which is entirely false, has been repeatedly exposed by Roderick Edwards. Only in recent years have Evangelical Christians sought to cast away the creeds. And this practice has become popular, not among traditional mainline Protestant groups, but among cults such as the “Churches of Christ,” whose ministers claim to hold the pure faith, but end up impeaching all men (and each other) as liars.

Of course, we all agree with John that the creeds are not equal to the Bible in authority. Nevertheless, a bit of honest reflection will bring us to realize that every time we lay down a system of theology, we ourselves are putting forth a creed. The real question, then, is whether one man’s teachings have a right to overthrow the witness of 2,000 years of Christianity. This is not a matter to be taken lightly. When John says that Christ returned in A.D. 70, he is only commending his creed. He is not arguing for the abolition of all creeds. When John says that death (the last enemy) was destroyed in A.D. 70, while Satan wasn’t destroyed until one thousand years later (!), he is voicing his creed. When he says that the resurrection is not of our physical bodies, he is promoting his particular creed. I have explained to John previously, that the pretensions of “Solo Scriptura” are wrong, for the simple reason that the Bible does not speak for itself. It must be interpreted before it can be understood. Hence it is not “the Bible alone” that constitutes orthodoxy, but the proper interpretation of the Bible. This is why creeds are important.

Now, if I present to the world some newfangled system of doctrine, I must be prepared to accept the responsibilities that come with it. I must be ready to take one of the following positions: 1) that I am orthodox, while every one else is a heretic; 2) that I am non-orthodox, but don’t really care; 3) that there is really no such thing as orthodoxy in an absolutesense. Rather, the term must be looked at in a relative sense. Please note that this third position is the one which Hyper-Preterists most commonly take. Instead of branding the historic church as heretical, the middle position is accepted. This position, however, blurs the distinctions between truth and falsehood- a practice which must be condemned. Due to the constant jostling of various systems of belief, man has a tendency sometimes to adopt a conciliatory attitude which essentially results in laxity of dogma and “toleration” toward views which the Bible marks as unacceptable, and even heretical.

The children of God, however, must always seek to make clearer the distinctions between good and evil, truth and error, light and darkness. The allegorists must concur with me when I point out that the true function of “the heavens” is to give light to all the earth. The moon (church) always shines brightest when she stands before her Lord, the Sun of Righteousness. Then the heavens truly illuminate those dwelling in darkness. When she moves away from her Lord, however, her testimony is gradually diminished, until darkness envelops the world once more. We must in all events seek to maintain our proper position before the Lord. If darkness ensues we must pray for a spiritual revival, which shall restore our position in the heavens, that the whole world may be illumined by the refulgence of Christ. In all events we must strive to make the truth shine clearer and more distinctly before all. Let us beware of compromising, lest we be found promoting the kingdom of darkness.

There is another reason why the “Solo Scriptura” argument breaks down under a closer investigation. For the New Testament did not manufacture itself. The formation of the canon was a slow and gradual process. It is clear that some well-defined standard of orthodoxy existed from the very beginning. Else, how were the fathers led to reject certain works as spurious, while others they accepted as canonical? Of course they were guided by the divine influence of the Holy Spirit, but they must also have had some kind of external standard. And when we look to church history we find out exactly what this standard was- the traditions passed down to them from the Apostolic Churches! Eusebius tells us that in his time (A.D. 324) epistles such as 2 Peter, James, Jude, and even 2 & 3 John, while recognized by many, were not universally accepted (Ecc. Hist. III. xxv). On the other hand, certain heretical books such as the Acts of Paul, Gospel of Thomas, and Apocalypse of Peter, were almost universally rejected.

Were the fathers wrong in rejecting the so-called “Gospel of Thomas” from the canon of authentic Scriptures? If you take Riffe’s approach, you are free to accept or reject any writing as you please. For he has already denied the orthodoxy of the Fathers. Thus, he cannot credibly stand with them on the issue of canonicity, for their verdict was based on their notions of orthodoxy! The Gospel of Thomas is a work of Gnostic origin, and was widely used among the Docetae; but it contains nothing obnoxious to one who holds that orthodoxy consists only of “honest seeking.” Why reject any of the Apocryphal Gospels? If a man has a right to formulate his own doctrine on his own definitions of orthodoxy, what prevents him from forming his own canon of Scripture? Obviously he can do this as well. But John, in accepting the New Testament canon as it stands, tacitly accepts Nicene standards of orthodoxy. Thus he contradicts himself in saying that we mustn’t accept the Apostles’ Creed as authoritative. Very well. In that case, neither need we accept the New Testament canon as authoritative!

You see what kind of errors one gets into when he takes this position. As I’ve said many times, and will continue to say in the face of all opposition, there is only one body and one faith. There cannot be one body and many faiths. If you do not accept the one faith, you do not belong to the one body. In departing from the one faith you create a new body of your own. Hence the rise of denominationalism. John has chosen certain heretical views, and in so doing, has ostracized himself from the true church. As long as he continues to combat sound orthodoxy, he must be steadfastly withstood. In all this, however, I realize that the Holy Spirit alone can convict him of error. For what man has power to overcome another man’s will? Know that all heresy essentially springs from self-will; as writes Tertullian in his excellent treatise A Prescription Against Heretics. The seat of all heresy lies in the will of the heretic. He will not submit himself to any authority outside of himself. And for this reason Paul ranks heresies among “the works of the flesh” (Gal. 5: 20); maintaining that“they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5: 21). If John does not believe me, I hope he’ll at least accept these sacred proofs from the Word of God.

But since he has brought this issue forward, we must continue to show that his position is false. And indeed there are many flaws. His “Solo Scriptura” argument breaks down on a third point as well. For there are hardly any Christians who don’t use some extra-Biblical materials to support their theology. The historicists, for example, in making their appeal draw largely from human history. Preterists draw from un-inspired writers such as Josephus, and from the historical events of A.D. 66-70. If we should insist on sticking to the Bible alone, most of these systems will become entirely unverifiable. Unless we ourselves adhere to the practice of using the Bible alone, without any extra-Scriptural reference, we cannot reasonably bar the use of the creeds, which represent the great cloud of witnesses within Christ’s body. It is amusing to note that John, who is so dead-set against creeds and confessions, and persistently asserts that the “Bible alone” is sufficient, himself makes constant use of human writings to back up his Millennial views. Just look at his website (http://prophecyandhistory.com/), and you’ll wonder how he can seriously maintain his position of “Solo Scriptura,” when he draws more from extra-Biblical sources than any of us!

I would like to know how John can use the “Bible alone” to back up any of his Preterist views. For there is not a single passage in Scripture that states that Christ ever returned. Christ Himself says, “Behold, I come quickly” (Rev. 22: 12). Of course, John’s response would be that the message was addressed to a select group of people 2,000 years ago; and that the coming was fulfilled in A.D. 70. But this view, which I don’t accept at all, relies entirely on the use of extra-Biblical reference. Without knowledge of the events of the Jewish war, the whole structure of Preterism would be brought to nothing. So, how can John prove the Millennium began in A.D. 70? Really, if we were to honor those who make use of the Bible alone, without any extra-Biblical material at all, we’d have to give the top prize to the futurist fundamentalists. This is incredible! I really don’t know how John, with a straight face, can aver that creeds mustn’t be used on “Solo Scriptura” grounds. Let John first practice his own theory, and then we’ll listen to him. Until then, we will continue to hold to the historicity of the one faith, on the same basis that he makes use of history books to back up his eschatological views.

But considered on a “Solo Scriptura” level, I should say that the Apostles’ Creed represents the exact teachings of Scripture- plus nothing, minus nothing. It contains no provision that “Christ already returned,” for that is clearly not a teaching contained in the Bible itself. It must be derived from human writings, and a strangely abortive kind of logic which is totally unfitted for the investigation of the truth. Thus, the Creed, which has a real historical continuity throughout all ages of the church’s history, far from purporting to supplement the Bible, actually supports the “Solo Scriptura” view more than anything else. It is an ally of the very principle which John claims to defend. And so it is no wonder why so many Christians have found it acceptable. For there is nothing in the Bible alone that contradicts it! Is not this amazing? Behold how scorners are brought to nothing by their very own weapons. Lest John be further confounded in this matter, I call to him to “wake up!” We need not be enemies, but we do need to follow the pure Evangelical faith- the same faith delivered to the saints, and passed down through the ages. I am persuaded that this same faith has power to change hearts and lives. Let us only wield the sword of the Spirit, and we shall see its effects.

But we must move onward to discuss another reason why creeds are important. Everyone knows that creeds promote Christian unity. And in no case has this been better exemplified than by the Apostles’ Creed. When Charles Martel withstood the Moors in 732 A.D., what church was he representing? Was it a church with many different faiths?- or was it a church with one faith? When Peter the Hermit preached the First Crusade, to whom did he make his appeal? Was it to many different bodies, or only one body? When the Christian forces wrested Jerusalem from the clutches of the Moor, were they not unified by one faith? If they had been broken into several different sects, the Crusades would never have become a reality. Every time Christianity has done great things in the world, its power has been achieved through unity, not diversity. I could go on to give numerous examples from history, which show that Christian unity alone has power. I think the reason why Christianity lacks force today is because of “many different creeds” battling for supremacy. The man on the street doesn’t know what to think any more. And so, whenever he sets sail, he must needs be tossed upon the seas of controversy. When will the tempest cease?

t will cease only when we call upon Christ to calm the winds of diversity, and return to the One True Faith. When the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles at the day of Pentecost, unity prevailed among them. Thus we learn that the Holy Spirit promotes unity. Whenever we seek to impose strange and divers doctrines upon others, we show the lack of spiritual influence in our hearts. The prophet Isaiah gives us a standing testimony of what occurs when we rebuke sound wisdom and run after our own dreams and delusions: “Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid” (Isaiah 29: 14). Likewise, Paul writes: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine: but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Tim. 4: 3-4).

It is essential, therefore, to have some sure standard whereby we may test any new doctrines that come along. And even Paul intimated this when he said, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle” (2 Thess. 2: 15); indicating to us that not all New Testament teachings were committed to writing. A large part may in fact have been delivered by word only. And this would certainly verify the statements of Rufinus; namely, that the Creed was delivered by the apostles as a measure of protection against false teachers. When one seriously considers the matter, he must agree that there had to be some easy way by which Christian disciples could test the validity of doctrinal teaching. For if there were no such standard, it would hardly have been possible for novices to identify false teachers; especially considering that these teachers used specious arguments to lure others away from the truth. So, wasn’t there some sure compass by which early Christians could stay clear of the reefs and shoals of heresy? There must have been. And this compass was the Apostles’ Creed!

But let us think. There is yet another aspect by which we may view the validity of the Creed- namely, that the Creed itself is an external expression of the internal work of the Spirit. For Paul writes, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10: 9-10). Thus we see that inward belief and outward confession go hand in hand. And these make sure our salvation. But is it possible for the confession to contradict our inward conviction of the truths of faith? Impossible! For if the tree of faith hath been planted, it must bear its own fruit. And if the same faith prevails among all of God’s children, then the same fruit must also prevail. Hence there is uniformity in both the tree and the fruit. If a man offers us strange fruit, shall we assume that it came from Christ’s tree?- or should we, seeking guidance, call to mind the rule of faith? I leave the reader to decide. If the rule of faith convicts a man’s teachings as false, then we must identify them as heretical.

The Creed, then, may be viewed as the external or outward expression of the inward working of Christian faith. Where many divers creeds exist, error must prevail. We should ask ourselves, in all honesty, whether the one faith may ever be questioned. For as stated above, true faith will always produce uniformity of belief. And the Apostles’ Creed has a historical continuity that cannot be denied. I should think that the only system with any possibility of being the truth is the one that shows consistency throughout all ages. As Tertullian writes: “Is it likely that so many churches, and they so great, should have gone astray into one and the same faith? No casualty distributed among many men issues in one and the same result. Error of doctrine in the churches must necessarily have produced various issues. When, however, that which is deposited among many is found to be one and the same, it is not the result of error, but of tradition. Can any one, then, be reckless enough to say they were in error who handed on the tradition?”(De Praesc. Haereticorum, xxviii). Now we have proven, in previous articles, that the Apostles’ Creed has real historical continuity. Therefore, it has the least likelihood being false; whereas a system that arose only yesterday has the highest probability of being erroneous.

Therefore, let us leave behind all delusions and return to the old paths. For these are the sure ways, which have been truly tested by many generations of pious men. Those who seek after novelty will always go astray, whether they claim the truth or not. And I think that at this time the Hyper-Preterists have abundantly shown that their system has no possibility of ever yielding the fruits of the Spirit. Instead of walking in our wisdom and folly, why not submit ourselves to the saints of old? Let us sit at the feet of the Fathers, and drink in their wisdom; for they were far more advanced than ourselves. Let us return to the true church, and submit ourselves to the New Jerusalem! Regardless of what other men claim, it empowers me to know that I belong to same church as Ignatius and Irenaeus, Tertullian and Lactantius, Eusebius and Justin Martyr. What a great honor it is to fellowship with these saints and martyrs of old! And I pray, dear friend, that you join me in worshiping our Lord and Savior in Spirit and in truth, and laboring to uphold and maintain the One True Faith. Now, what is this faith? Repeat after me:

“I believe in God the Father Almighty; Maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ His only-begotten Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; the third day He rose from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father Almighty. From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the flesh; and the life everlasting. Amen.”

Have Heavens and Earth Passed Away? – From Shadows of the Cross Blog

As a former Full Preterist, I believe it is necessary to explain the reasons why I have repented of promoting this system of bible prophecy. For over 8 years, my deep conviction regarding the superiority of this system blinded me from seeing beyond the confines of the Preterist method of interpretation which, in all its forms, maintains the year AD70 as a focal point for prophetic fulfillment. Ever since realizing how that point of view limits ones perspective of spiritual things, it has been my distinct pleasure to discover what AD70 really means for our lives today.

All people are responsible for determining what truth is, and it is because of this search for truth that we labor to grow in our understanding of the world around us. The conclusions we reach in this pursuit are what drive us to do and to say what we believe is right. Within this process of maturing for the Christian, it is always necessary that we allow God to progressively straighten our paths, as he continues challenging our understanding. When we recognize that we have been wrong, we are called upon to repent and tear down the previous conclusions that we realize were not grounded on a solid foundation.

After having recognized a whole host of erroneous conclusions based upon false assumptions I had taught others while sharing my beliefs with others it is now my responsibility to define to them why I believe a consistent Full Preterist approach leads to greater errors, but also to define the newer, straighter path to which God has led me. Just as I was previously convinced that all prophetic fulfillment took place with the fall of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple in AD70, I am now convinced that complete fulfillment actually takes place in Jesus Christ.

The Three Heavens and Earth of 2 Peter 3

It is recognized by those who focus on bible prophecy that the concept of the “new heavens and earth” or “new Jerusalem” are connected to the fulfillment of the Bible’s “end times things.” When looking at the “new heavens and “new earth” passage in 2 Peter 3, it is recognized that we see a remarkable picture of this prophetic scene. It is a primary passage in Bible prophecy that is commonly used to define what happens after the “end of the age” as mentioned throughout the New Testament.

Within this chapter, there are three different “heavens and earth” represented. First, there is a description of the “old heavens and earth” that was destroyed by water (3:4-6). Secondly, there is a “present heavens and earth” which was to be destroyed by fire (3:7). And thirdly, we are shown a “new heavens and earth” in which righteousness dwells (3:13). For reference, here are the three represented in a list:

● The “old heavens and earth” that was destroyed by water (3:4-6)
● The “present heavens and earth” which was to be destroyed by fire (3:7)
● The “new heavens and earth” in which righteousness dwells (3:13)

The “Old Heavens and Earth” (2 Peter 3:4-6)

Most interpreters seem agreed that the “old heavens and earth” represent that period of history prior to Noah’s flood. None believe that the material earth was destroyed during the flood, so the concepts we will be focusing on are the people living in the three “heavens and earth.” Most are agreed that it is a historical era, in which all those not in Noah’s ark perished in a watery flood. This is an important point, because by recognizing that only “the righteous” (Noah and his family) were able to enter into the “heavens and earth” that came thereafter, in the natural sense, we can see how this applies to those who are able to enter into the new heavens and earth of Second Peter chapter three.

On the identification of the era of the “old heavens and earth” mentioned by Peter there there is little disagreement. However, this is not the case regarding that “heavens and earth” then present when Peter wrote his second epistle.

The “Present Heavens and Earth” (2 Peter 3:7)Most Christian writers believe that the “present heavens and earth” (by which they mean the world around us) will one day “melt with fervent heat” at the destruction of the physical planet. In contrast, when I was a Preterist, I believed that this entire passage was referring to the end of the Jewish system and law, once the elements of that system were removed, by the fall of the Mosaic system in the year 70.

This particular point of view focuses on the “year of our Lord” 70, at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. This view makes the claim that only after the Jewish temple was destroyed by the Romans did the “present heavens and earth” pass away. It is then deduced that then (and only then) could the “new heavens and earth” find its establishment.

According to this view, the historical year 70 was the prophetic focal point which separated the passing of the present “heavens and earth” from the coming of the new “heavens and earth.” To use other biblical imagery, “this age” is equated with the “old heavens and earth,” (the era of the Jewish Levitical system), and “the age to come” is equated with the “new heavens and earth” (the “Church age”). Here are some quotes from defenders of that view:

Two key verses that most Full Preterists use for deducing the immediate connection between the end of the old and the foundation of the new are Luke 21:22 (“these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled”) and Matthew 5:18, where Jesus said “truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Using both of these passages, a seemingly rock solid case is made that the first century generation saw the passing from the then present “heavens and earth” to the new. In order to properly address this assumption of the Preterist system, it is important to take a closer look at to what the phrase “new heavens and earth” refers.

The “New Heavens and Earth” (2 Peter 3:13)

Another place where the phrase “heaven and earth” is given a prominent place is the biblical book of John’s Revelation. There, we can see a picture similar to that which is found in Second Peter. In Revelation 21:1-3, the Bible reads, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them.” As pictured here in Revelation, this “new heavens and earth” reveals the holy city which is called the New Jerusalem.

Whatever the new Jerusalem that is contained within the context of the “new heavens and earth” is, it must be noted that only those whose names are written in the book of life are allowed to enter. Remembering that those outside of the ark were not able to enter into the “heavens and earth” after the flood, we can expect that those outside of Jesus Christ (the true ark) can neither enter into this blessed age.

There are many other passages which uses almost identical language, which should be considered in the same context. One of the most obvious connections made is by Paul in Galatians 4:25-26. Here we see a contrast between the “present Jerusalem” which was from below and the Jerusalem which was from above.

The New “Jerusalem Which is Above” (Galatians 4)

As is acknowledged by countless interpreters, Galatians 4 contains the Apostle Paul’s usage of the city name “Jerusalem” in an allegorical fashion. In fact, Paul himself declared that “these things are an allegory,” when making reference to the then standing “present Jerusalem” as a representation of the slavery and bondage of those who were born according to the flesh. When looking at the allegorical nature of Paul’s usage of Jerusalem, it is beyond question that he is using the imagery of a present and new Jerusalem as symbols of transition into the glorious liberty found in Christian life. To restate this in the construction of Second Peter, the old Jerusalem was given to represent the unrighteous, and the new Jerusalem was given to represent the righteous.

– The “Jerusalem Which is Below” = Outside of Christ

On the one hand, Paul teaches that the present Jerusalem was a symbol of slavery — akin to bondage under the Jewish Law given by Moses. Considering his ultimate message regarding the liberty of the gospel, this is best understood as being a representation of those who were without a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Such people, all agree, are indeed slaves to sin and the fleshly impulses.

– The “Jerusalem Which is Above” = In Christ

The “Jerusalem from above,“ on the other hand, is given by Paul as a representation of those who had been given spiritual life in Jesus Christ. The blessed people are freed from that yoke of slavery, as he shows in Galatians 5:1. In this passage it is said that through the gospel, “Christ set us free.” Hebrews 12:22-24 also teaches that in Christ we come to “Mount Zion,” “the heavenly Jerusalem,” which is likewise used as a representative of the new covenant of salvation in Jesus Christ. It is within the new covenant that those who are Christ’s move from the old things of bondage, to the new things of liberty in Him.

Note the usage of “old” and “new” language, as it is directly comparable to the terms “old” and “new” as used in reference to “Jerusalem” and to the “heavens and earth.” This biblical contrast between old and new are as shown in the chart below.

CONTRAST BETWEEN THE “OLD” AND “NEW” IN GALATIANS 4

In Ephesians 2:4-7, Paul utilized the same concept of the transition of the wicked from the present to new “Jerusalem,” writing that “God as made us (righteous) alive together with Christ, and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” It would certainly seem clear that Paul is saying that those “in Christ” were already in the New Jerusalem of the realms above. This position of being in Christ is characterized as leaving the “present Jerusalem” below and entering into the “New Jerusalem” which is above.It is important to note that this transition is not effected by history, but solely by the grace and indwelling of the Lord Jesus Christ. Just as with the flood of Noah, only those who were in the ark were saved. The unrighteous we left outside in the waters, and never progressed beyond their age into that which was coming on the other side of the flood event.

As we recognize that the passing of Jerusalem is likewise utilized by Paul as a symbolic representation of one’s passing from death to life in Christ, then we can more clearly see how the elements of the earthly realm – such as the “present heavens and earth” or “present Jerusalem” or “this unbelieving generation” — are but representatives used to define those who are not “in Christ”. As elsewhere, those new things which Paul says are to be found in Christ alone, are represented by the terminology “new heaven and earth,” “new Jerusalem,” “new man,” and the like.

The “Old” and “New” Man

By acknowledging Paul’s broader vision of each of these terms, being used to distinguish between the just and unjust (instead of simply focusing on the period surrounding the historical year 70), we can see that the first century generation itself – which culminated in the infamous destruction of Jerusalem – was indeed being utilized as an external representation of the conversion process which every Christian experiences as they leave the old for the new. Every person who once resided in death under the “old” man, later through the gospel of Jesus Christ becomes alive through the “putting on” of the “new man. “

We can see that Paul, in 2 Corinthians 5:17, taught the exact same concept, tying it directly to the passing from the old creation to the new. In this passage he wrote, “therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” Based on Paul’s teaching that the passing occurs in Christ, and not at some point in history, we can begin to see why the Preterist deduction of a passing tied historically to the year AD70 – long after the cross of Christ, becomes very suspect and potentially heretical.

This is not at all to say that the historical events of the end of the age were not foretold and fulfilled precisely as written by Moses and the Prophets ; however, the only way to enter into the new is in Christ. Those who were not in Christ never enter into anything new, and are left in the old. Just as was symbolized by the flood of Noah, and now seen as being symbolized in the events of the first century, we must be able to get past these symbolic events, and validate their true significance. This passing from old to new, as shown in both events, points to Jesus Christ even today, and the transition in our lives today – and is not at all something that is to be placed in the past as fulfilled and completed because a building fell. Though while a Preterist I could tell you precisely what happened to the people thousands of years ago, I was forced to speak very vaguely about what it meant in my Christian life.

So it is important, as we look back at the correlation between “all things new”, to recognize its eternal nature in Jesus, being completely outside of the realm of time. Only those who enter the ark of Christ – even today — are able to go from old to new. Those who do not, still find themselves in what Peter called “the present heavens and earth.” It is not at all something that is to be placed in the past as fulfilled and completed simply because a building fell.The way into the “new” : Jerusalem, age, birth, man, heavens and earth, etc., all were very much open long before AD70. The translation from “old” to “new” was, however, waiting to be revealed in a most overt way for all to see. As the Word of God says in Hebrews 9, “the way into the holiest of all was “not made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing.”

This passing from old to new, as shown in both events, points to Jesus Christ even today, and the transition in our lives today – and is not at all something that is to be placed in the past as fulfilled and completed because a building fell. It is acknowledged by the busiest writers in full preterism that the focal point of the view is not jesus Christ, or our transition in him. Author Sam Frost wrote: “Preterism is an interpretive system that is locked on the events of 66-70 A.D. It views this as the decisive eschatological event. The Second Coming, Resurrection of the Dead and Great Judgment are seen as having taken place in and around these years. This is a contradiction to Christian orthodoxy and its Creeds, Councils and all the Reformed, Baptist, and Methodist Standards (and we wonder why preterists are called “heretics”!).”

Well, there is indeed reason to wonder particularly about why Jesus Christ and the cross are so eagerly removed from the central spot in the revelation of God’s redemptive work in us. One thing I used to make me wonder why, if the view is so seemingly rock solid, that full preterism left me so empty and unfulfilled. And now I know. Though while a Preterist I could tell you precisely what happened to the people thousands of years ago, I was forced to speak very vaguely about what it meant in my Christian life. These days, by keeping Jesus Christ and Him crucified as the central and only theme of my redemption and transition, He has indeed made “all things new!”

In part two, we will consider the consequences of removing the “present heavens and earth” from the wicked in the post AD70 world.

Christ’s Warning Concerning False Teachers By Brian Schwertley

Introduction

 

At the present time a number of “conservative” Reformed denominations are drifting theologically toward a dark and uncertain future. The decline is not primarily due to syncretism with culture or blatant ethical violations but rather is rooted in theological subversion from within. This subversion is coming from pastors, writers, popular speakers, seminary professors, and publishers all of whom claim to adhere to the Reformed faith. This situation makes our topic very relevant: Christ’s warning against false teachers. This warning is found in Matthew 16:6: “Then Jesus said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.’” If we are to avoid making a shipwreck of the faith we must carefully heed this solemn warning from the lips of our Lord. As we study this warning we will consider: (a) the context and preliminary comments; (b) the dangers of false teaching; (c) the nature and manner of doctrinal subversion and (d) ways to stop doctrinal subversion. May God protect us from the leaven of false doctrine and help us to warn others regarding false teachings in religion.

 

Context and Preliminary Comments

 

There are a number of things that we need to discuss before we consider the command itself.

First, our Lord’s warning came after a confrontation with His chief enemies the Pharisees and Sadducees (Mt. 16:1-4). Interestingly, the warning was not immediate but occurred after the disciples had gone to the other side of Galilee (Mt. 16:5). This delay indicates that our Lord’s warning was the result of contemplating what had occurred earlier in the day. Our Lord’s emphatic statement was premeditated. It shows a very strong pastoral concern for the disciples. The disciples were concerned about how to get their next meal while the Lord of glory is contemplating the doctrinal integrity of the teachers in His church. Our Lord’s concern stands in sharp contrast to the lack of concern for doctrinal integrity that exists in many churches today. In modern evangelical churches the primary concern is on having a wonderful experience or on making worship relevant to our post modern culture.

Second, our Lord’s warning is directed to the twelve apostles. It is not directed to backsliders, new believers, unreliable professors or ungodly persons but to the cream of the crop. The twelve apostles had forsaken all to follow Jesus. These were men who were dedicated to the Savior; who had been under His personal care and training for quite some time. These were men who had absolutely no sympathy for the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. There is no indication whatsoever that the disciples were being influenced by any false teachers. Yet, it is the apostles who receive this strong warning.

The fact that our Lord’s admonition is directed to the apostles tells us that no one should consider himself to be immune to the influence of false doctrine. There is never a time in our walk with Christ when we can let down our guard. There is not one person who can claim a level of knowledge, sanctification or theological maturity that protects him from the doctrinal assaults of Satan. Even the most godly and knowledgeable believers are able to err in doctrine. In fact, the more we understand about God, Christ, faith and life, the more we realize how feeble our knowledge really is. Therefore, regarding doctrinal matters we must be very humble. We must be very prayerful and careful regarding the doctrinal achievements on which we stand. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Pr. 16:18). And it is often pride and arrogance regarding one’s own knowledge, abilities and genius that has caused many a theologian and pastor to be seduced by Satan.

It is not an accident of history that many dangerous heresies originated with pastors or teachers who were the brightest, most creative minds in seminaries or colleges. Indeed, the greatest heresies that have caused severe havoc in Christ’s church have all come from respected ministers of the gospel; from men notable for their teaching ability or intellectual skills.

We can see the need for humility and watchfulness just by recalling the notable shipwrecks of the faith in our own day. A number of Reformed families, pastors and teachers (e.g., Scott Hahn, Franky Schaeffer, Gerry Metatics) have succumbed to the leaven of Roman Catholicism and the Eastern Orthodox Church. When we hear of people who were thoroughly Reformed in doctrine embracing soul-damning heresies we scratch our heads and wonder how? How could people depart from the purity of doctrine and worship of the Reformed faith and embrace works salvation and rank idolatry? The sad reality is that such departures happen more often than we think. Being Reformed or Presbyterian does not make a person immune to doctrinal apostasy. The fact that Jesus saw the need to warn His closest disciples coupled with the reality that doctrinal departures are common in our own day ought to humble and sober us. Let us not trust in our own hearts, or doctrinal attainments, or theological superiority to sloppy modern evangelicalism for Reformed people can and do embrace false doctrines. If Jesus’ warning applies to the apostles, the leaders of the church, then it certainly applies to us.

 

The Dangers of False Teaching  

 

          Having noted the context and audience let us examine Christ’s exhortation to His disciples. Jesus said, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Mt. 16:6). In verse 12, the leaven is identified as the teaching of Pharisees and Sadducees. Of all the things that could have threatened the apostles, such as political and religious persecution or threats to life and limb, our Lord concerns Himself with doctrine. Why is the Savior so troubled about doctrine? Such a concern is certainly not in vogue today. The attitude among most contemporary evangelicals is that doctrine is not practical. Doctrine doesn’t grow the church. Doctrine doesn’t meet people’s needs; it doesn’t feed the hungry or clothe the poor. Today we are even told that doctrine is bad because it divides rather than unites professing Christians. Also, we are told that in a post-modern culture people are not accustomed to words or doctrines but rather with visual images and experiences. Thus, to meet people where they are, teaching, preaching and doctrine must be placed on the back burner and replaced with drama, music, film, art and dance.

While most of modern Christendom has rejected the importance of doctrine and the centrality of preaching in public worship, correct doctrine was an obsession for both Christ and the apostles (cf., Ac. 20:28-31; Rom. 16:17; 1 Tim. 1:3-4; 6:3-4; 2 Tim. 4:2-4; Tit. 1:9; Mt. 1:9; Mt. 5:21-48; 7:15-27; 2 Jn. 9-11). There are many reasons why our Lord regarded doctrine so highly. (a) Correct doctrine is foundational to biblical Christianity. The system of doctrine taught by Scripture defines God, Christ, salvation, ethics, sin and everything a person needs for faith and life (2 Tim. 3:15-17). Without correct doctrine the object of our faith is false and all is lost. (b) Correct doctrine is crucial because false and man-made doctrine drives out, replaces and nullifies true teaching (Mt. 15:1-9; Col. 2:8, 20-23). The apostles had the responsibility to lay the foundation of the church by planting congregations and by delivering their inspired teachings and writings. If the shepherds became corrupted, so would their followers. Therefore, we can understand Jesus’ very strong concern with purity of doctrine. We hope and pray that some day many of the modern evangelical churches will share that concern.

Now that we understand the importance of biblical doctrine we need to ask the question: Why does our Lord single out the Pharisees and Sadducees? One reason is that these groups were the two dominant religious parties in Israel. The Pharisees were very popular with the people, while the Sadducees held sway in the aristocracy. Another reason for the warning is that in God’s providence these two groups are representative of the two main heretical tendencies that are found throughout history.

The Pharisees’ doctrine was dangerous because they founded their authority upon oral law or human traditions and as a result were legalistic, self-righteous and formalistic. The Pharisees believed that in addition to the written law there was also an authoritative oral law passed down through history by various leaders, prophets and rabbis. While they formally accepted the authority of the Old Testament, their traditions in practice were more important than the Bible because they were used to interpret the Scriptures. As a result they held to a number of heresies.

They believed in salvation by law-keeping. Consequently, they denied salvation by grace through faith alone. They, in practice, denied the doctrine of original sin and depravity. The Pharisees also redefined the law externalizing it so that (in their mind) an outward, formal obedience to the law could be achieved. They “fenced” the law with all sorts of silly man-made rules and regulations so that sanctification consisted in ritual observances instead of learning and obeying the law itself. In the New Testament there are many references to the absurd detailed legalism of the Pharisees: the tithing of herbs (Mt. 23:23; Lk. 11:42); the wearing of tassels and phylacteries (Mt. 23:5); the obsession with ritual purity (e.g., Mk. 7:1ff.); frequent fasting (Mt. 9:14); and, silly and arbitrary rules surrounding oaths (Mt. 23:5). As Jesus said they strain out a gnat and swallow a camel (Mt. 23:24). The Pharisees took pride in their Jewish heritage and greatly over-emphasized their privileged status as Jews (Rom. 2:17ff.) at the expense of the necessity of saving faith and conversion. Their religion was very external; good works were placed on display to be seen and praised by men (Mt. 6:1-6, 16; 23:5). Their religious leaders loved pomp, status and power (Mt. 23:6).

Yet for all their talk of the law; love of ceremonies and religiosity, the Pharisees are strongly condemned by Christ. By their traditions they nullified God’s law (Mt. 15:3ff; Mk. 7:8-9). The Pharisees and their followers will not enter the kingdom of God (Mt. 23:13). They are blind leaders of the blind (Mt. 15:14), hypocrites (Mk. 7:6), whose hearts are far from God (Mt. 15:8). They are full of inner corruption (Mt. 23:27ff) and are guilty of persecuting the true people of God (Mt. 23:34-35). Thus, they are designated as “the synagogue of Satan” by Jesus (Rev. 2:9). Our Lord had a good reason to say the apostles, “Look out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

The Sadducees doctrine was also dangerous because of their willingness to subject the Bible to finite reason, pragmatism and skepticism. While the Pharisees added to God’s word, the Sadducees detracted from it. They were the modernists of their day. The Sadducees did not place the Old Testament historical and prophetic books on the same level with the five books of Moses. They did not believe in the resurrection of the body, in the existence of angelic beings, or even that man had a soul or spirit (Ac. 23:8). The Sadducees attempted to sway people to their own position by using clever arguments that made a mockery of the Scriptures. When they tried such skeptical reasoning upon our Lord concerning the resurrection (Mt. 22:23-33; Mk. 12:18-27; Lk. 20:27-28) Christ rebuked them saying that they did not know the power of God or the Scriptures. He even quoted the Pentateuch (Ex. 3:6) which they accepted as authoritative to prove the resurrection. The Sadducees were worldly political pragmatists. Because they rejected the after-life and the rewards or penalties of a final judgment, they had no problem making compromises politically, ethically or pragmatically to keep their present power, pleasure and prestige. John the Baptist calls the Sadducees “a brood of vipers” (Mt. 3:7). While the Sadducees had some strong disagreements with the Pharisees, both groups found a common enemy in Christ and the disciples (Ac. 4:1ff). Of all men who subtract from the Scriptures and who are skeptics, rationalists and pragmatists our Lord says, “Look out and beware of their teaching.”

The infinite wisdom and omniscience of Jesus is displayed in how suitable the Savior’s words are as a beacon of warning to God’s people throughout all church history. When we examine the history of the church we see these two great corrupting influences at work over and over again. The names of the parties may change and the theological peripheral details may be different, yet the underlying philosophy of corruption is the same.

The general philosophical principles of Phariseeism which consists of a love of human tradition, a secondary yet superior source of authority in an oral tradition, a zealousness for the traditions of the fathers, a large body of authoritative man-made rules and a system of salvation of salvation rooted in human merit are all crucial elements of the Roman Catholic Church. In the papal church the religion of Christ and the apostles has been swallowed up by ritualism, pomp and ceremony. The Word of God is overshadowed by a mountain of human inventions: the priesthood, the mass, the confessional, indulgences, worship of Mary and the saints, etc. The necessity of conversion has been replaced by baptismal regeneration and salvation by works. True spiritual worship has been replaced by outward man-made rituals: candles, surpluses, the crucifix, statues, holy water, the altar, and the sign of the cross—none of which are authorized by the Bible.

The mantle of the Pharisees with their love of human traditions, their love of outward rituals and the rejection of salvation by grace alone through faith alone has sadly fallen upon a good portion of professing Christendom today. There is not only the Roman Catholic Church but also all the Eastern Orthodox churches, high church Episcopalians, Coptic, Ethiopian and Latin rite congregations. In some areas these communions have surpassed the Pharisees by their rank idolatry and elaborate priestly garments and rituals.

Given the history of the Christian church, Jesus’ warning is just as relevant and important today as it was nearly two thousand years ago. Because of our sinful natures there has been many a professing Christian who has been drawn to tradition, ceremonies, rituals, human merit and the outward shell of a religion. A religion that on the outside is like a white-washed tomb but inside is rotten, corrupt and dead. They hold to a form of religion but deny its power. They profess Jesus with their lips but their hearts are far from Him.

The need to “look out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees” is a very important warning today for the Reformed community. There are ordained pastors who claim to be Reformed that are spreading Romanizing germs throughout the world. There are those who have rejected the attainments of the Reformation concerning hermeneutics and thus advocate “interpretive maximalism.” This “new” hermeneutic is used to circumvent the authority of Scripture (i.e., divine warrant) by giving the interpreter great flexibility in deriving principles of worship and ceremony from the Bible that are not really there. A number of ancient fathers and medieval theologians did much the same by their spiritualizing or allegorizing of the text of Scripture. The problem with interpretive maximalism and its ancient counterpart is that the historical-grammatical meaning of the text is set aside and replaced by the presuppositions and artistic impressions of the interpreter. A method of interpretation that is so subjective and flexible tells us more about the interpreter than it does about the text of Scripture itself. With this fluid, subjective methodology James Jordan, David Chilton, Peter Leithart and their followers are pointing people to Rome, Canterbury andConstantinople while others such as John Frame are pointing people toward Las Vegas and Hollywood.

There are many pastors and popular speakers within the Reformed community that have openly rejected sola Scriptura or the regulative principle in matters related to worship (e.g., John Frame, Douglas Wilson, Steve Schlissel, Steve Wilkins, James Jordan, etc.) Once the authority of Scripture is set aside in the area of worship, the leaven of human tradition enters in and fills the void. Thus, in Reformed churches today there is a return to the corruptions of Rome (e.g., the liturgical calendar, robes and vestments, candles, sacramentalism, intricate liturgies and so on). James Jordan even argues for the sign of the cross and the use of cathedrals. There are men who are so in love with popish trash they argue that “Reformed is not enough.” They say that we must not be limited by the Reformed symbols but rather go back to classical Christianity (i.e. the corrupt medieval sacramental paradigm).

Have such men been recognized as distributors of the leaven of the Pharisees, as mediums for the germs of Rome? No! They are as popular as ever. In fact, few men in the Reformed community have been willing to fight against this dangerous leaven. Sadly, those who have protested this heresy have suffered great abuse themselves. Tragically, as men strike at the very heart of the Reformed faith, pastors, elders, seminary professors and congregants declare: “I see no danger. I hear nothing contrary to sound doctrine. Quit making a mountain out of a molehill. These are good Reformed men of God.” This flight from reality, rejection of the obvious and false application of Christian charity reveals that the leaven has subtly and silently been spreading among the Reformed churches for years. “A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so (Jer. 5:30-31).

One can even find the Pharisaical leaven of human merit as a co-instrument of justification in the Reformed community today. There is the rising popularity of the Romanizing germs of Norman Shepherd who rejects the imputed righteousness of Christ and replaces it with the works of faith, faithful obedience or covenantal perseverance. Has this heretic been excommunicated for sowing the seeds of Phariseeism and Romanism in the body of Christ? No! He is more popular as a speaker than ever. His Romanizing doctrines were published by a Reformed publishing house (Presbyterian and Reformed) and endorsed by Reformed seminary professors (e.g. Richard Gaffin, Jr., Joel Nederhood). His views are being advocated by some of the most popular “Reformed” conference speakers in the country (e.g. Steve Schlissel, Andrew Sandlin, etc). Once again men who want to eradicate this Pharisaical leaven are told: “Don’t be so harsh and unloving. This new paradigm is not dangerous or heretical. This new teaching is a breath of fresh air.” To this all too common kind of remark we ask: “Are we supposed to sit on our hands and do nothing while the gospel is redefined in a Romanizing manner? Are we to site idly by when the followers of Jordan and Shepherd are lead directly into the apostate and heretical Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox communions? No! We cannot remain silent. We must beware of false prophets (Mt.7:15). We must try the spirits to see whether they are of God (1 Jn. 4:1). We must sound the same trumpet that Christ sounded, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” If we warn the church in the same manner as the Great Shepherd, when whole families who are under the sway of these corrupting teachers join the Roman Catholic Church or the Greek Orthodox Church their blood will not be on our heads.

Church history is also full of examples of the relevancy of our Lord’s warning regarding the leaven of the Sadducees. Throughout history the church has had to deal with religious teachers who were skeptics and rationalists; who in some manner denied the authority of Scripture (e.g. Gnosticism, Marcionism, Arianism, Pelagianism, Socinianism, Unitarianism, Deism, Modernism). Since the 1870s modernism has virtually destroyed the Christian witness of all the old mainline Protestant denominations. All the central tenets of the faith (e.g. the plenary inspiration of the Bible, the vicarious atonement, the resurrection, the doctrine of hell, the necessity of conversion, the virgin birth, miracles, the moral law, etc.) have been rejected, redefined or watered down in order to fit in with an unbelieving secular humanistic worldview. These infidels wear the mantle of the Sadducees with pride.

Is such leaven still a danger among Reformed churches today? Yes, it certainly is! The Christian Reformed Church has largely apostatized in only the last thirty years. Almost everyone who has attended a conservative Reformed seminary knows at least a few students who started out thoroughly orthodox but at some time were seduced by the lies of someone like Karl Barth. Doctrines that were immediately rejected only a generation ago such as process theology and annihilationism are growing in popularity in neo-evangelical circles. Crucial doctrines such as six-day creationism are commonly denied today in so-called conservative Presbyterian seminaries (e.g. Westminster Seminary near Philadelphia). Some seminaries that were once strongly committed to biblical inerrancy have denied the plenary inspiration of Scripture (e.g. Fuller Seminary). The leaven of the Sadducees is as much a threat to Bible-believing Christians today as it ever was. “Take heed, and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”

 

The Nature and Manner of Doctrinal Subversion  

 

When Jesus warned the apostles regarding the teaching of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, he used the word “leaven”. Why did our Lord say leaven when the word doctrine would have been much easier for the disciples to understand? Christ used the word leaven for a particular reason. He wanted His people to understand why false doctrine is so dangerous. He does this by comparing false teaching to leaven.

What is it about leaven or yeast that makes it the appropriate word to describe what false doctrine can do to the church? Leaven does two things that make it the perfect choice to describe how false teaching operates. First, leaven works insidiously. Its influence on the lump of dough is subtle. It works quietly as it penetrates the whole loaf. Second, leaven’s nature is to grow and spread. Once it is introduced into the lump of dough, if left alone, it will change the character of the whole lump. These aspects of leaven as descriptions of how false doctrine operates are true in individuals and especially in corporate bodies such as individual churches or denominations.

Many of us have known men who have apostatized doctrinally. What usually occurs in such situations is that a person is introduced to false doctrine and some point of that false system will be accepted. It can be anything from a Romanizing concept of justification to a sacramental view of baptism to some aspect of full preterism. What occurs after a false doctrine is firmly planted in a person’s mind is that it slowly, imperceptibly penetrates that person’s entire theological outlook and worldview. The man who has accepted some aspect of full preterism in the long run ends up denying several crucial Christian doctrines such as the resurrection of the body, the rapture, the final judgment and the second bodily coming of Christ. These doctrines are not openly denied but are denied through heretical redefinition. A person may adopt baptismal regeneration. After a time such a person often will end up adopting several interrelated heretical views. As a result crucial doctrines such as election, regeneration, the atonement, conversion and perseverance are heretically redefined. False doctrine works like leaven penetrating and perverting a person’s entire theological system. Then tragically, we may discover that an acquaintance or close friend has converted to Romanism or has simply stopped attending church. Beloved, be on guard: “Look out and beware.”

Throughout history the truth and urgency of our Lord’s warning is observable in how false doctrine has worked as leaven in churches. There are a number of important things to note regarding this topic.

First, the leaven almost always comes from teachers within the church. The Pharisees and Sadducees were leaders among the covenant people. Historically, the men who have done the most damage to Christ’s church have not been wicked political rulers but rather pastors, seminary professors and Christian scholars. Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Mt. 7:15). Paul warned the Corinthians of such men when he wrote: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And do not marvel for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:13-14).

The most effective way to leaven the church is to use men who are respected religious leaders. Historically the men who have been used by the devil to corrupt the church have often been very articulate, intelligent and morally upright (at least outwardly). False doctrine has not come from dullards but from shining intellects, from men who are very popular and “pious”. In recent years, Satan has used men that have been well known for teaching solid, orthodox doctrine for many years. Thus, when these men introduce subtle but dangerous heresies their views are readily accepted by many. And when these men are challenged by orthodox teachers many come to their defense saying, “How could pastor so and so be teaching false doctrine when we know he has championed the Reformed faith for years? How dare you accuse our dear brother of heresy!” This tactic has been very effective. It has resulted in the orthodox party (who are simply defending the Reformed faith) being accused of being unloving, obsessed, obnoxious and deluded.

Second, the men who have introduced false doctrines have done so in a subtle, insidious manner. They do not openly proclaim that their new doctrine is unorthodox orunconfessional. They do not admit that their teaching is a radical departure from the truth. They do not voluntarily resign their position as pastor-teacher or elder but rather maintain their positions of authority in order to leaven the church. Their books, tracts and lectures are written in a way to disarm people’s suspicions and give their supporters enough quotes to throw the people who see something is wrong off guard. Those who spread false teaching almost never show their true colors unless they have already gained a large following and sense victory or unless they know that church authorities do not have the guts to discipline heterodox ministers.

How do the false teachers work subtly or insidiously on the flock? They do a number of deceitful things. (1) They often will proclaim their complete faithfulness to the church’s standards. One author who has done much to destroy biblical worship in Presbyterian churches begins his book by proclaiming his hearty acceptance of the Westminster Standards and the regulative principle of worship. Then he almost immediately sets forth several arguments against the regulative principle. The men who are spreading the Auburn Ave. theology and the so-called objectivity of the covenant will say that they adhere to the five points of Calvinism and believe that those who are elect cannot fall away. However, they also teach that people who have been regenerated, who have had their sins washed away by Jesus’ blood and are truly united to the Savior can apostatize and go to hell. These men can be selectively quoted to appear completely orthodox or quoted to appear heretical. Heresy is hidden between statements of true doctrine. No Presbyterian session would invite a Roman Catholic priest to speak on justification. However, they very well may ignorantly invite someone like Norman Shepherd or Steve Schlissel. “Look out, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”

          (2) False teachers use stealth, ambiguity and deceit in setting forth their new theories. They hide behind equivocations and redefinitions of old theological terms. Modernists, for example, would proclaim belief in the resurrection of Christ. They simply redefine the resurrection in a non-miraculous, secular humanistic manner. Norman Shepherd will insist that he completely rejects any role for works or human merit in salvation. But, he defines faith as “faithful obedience” which is just a subtle way of saying that faith and good works are co-instruments in a person’s justification. A sloppy, difficult, ambiguous and even contradictory use of language gives false teachers plausible deniability. If they are called on the carpet, they can always plead innocence based on a misunderstanding of their use of terms.

(3) False teachers will often argue that they are not denying anything essential to the faith but are merely clarifying peripheral unsettled matters of the faith. They will argue that there is a sense in which their teaching is new paradigm or a new perspective. However, it certainly does not rise to the level of heresy. This tactic worked for Pelagius when he appeared before a synod in Palestine (A.D. 415). Pelagius was very evasive at this synod; he gave very ambiguous answers as a deliberate tactic and was even willing to condemn the teachings of his disciple Celestius as foolishness even though their doctrines were identical. Augustine said of this synod: “It was not heresy, that was there acquitted, but the man who denied the heresy.”[1] When the new “paradigm” of the Auburn Ave. theology came upon the scene some of its advocates said that it was taking Reformed churches back to the original intent of the Westminster Standards, which have been perverted over time by a Greek mindset. Then, we were told that there were some differences with the Standards, but they were of no consequence. Then, we were told that “Reformed is not enough”. That is, we need to fine tune and improve the Standards. The tactics of equivocation, of emphasizing points of agreement, of speaking out of both sides of one’s mouth, or emphasizing that nothing of consequence is being changed are all means by which the false teacher clothes himself with sheepskin. Tragically, many people who are untrained in theology and even a few who are knowledgeable are deceived by such tactics.

(4) False teachers speak the language of love, peace, cooperation and the need for Christian unity. They label those who oppose this teaching as unloving, unkind, as disturbers of the peace of the church, as men who twist things all out of proportion. They will argue that there is a world of sin, evil and poverty out there and that Christians fighting against other Christians is counterproductive and foolish. In order to fight the real enemies of the church (we are told) we must be tolerant of minor, inconsequential, difficult doctrines.

This tactic was very effective in the modernist takeovers of the mainline denominations in the early part of the twentieth century. The modernists argued that fighting over doctrine slowed the missionary endeavors of the church and was a bad witness to the world. The modernist pleas were very effective in lulling the vast majority of people in the pews who were doctrinally conservative into doing nothing or even siding with the liberals. The liberals were successful in labeling men who were fighting for the truth of the gospel as unloving, fanatical, angry, deluded men. Men who were conservative such as Dr. Eerdmans at Princeton Seminary sided with the modernists against Dr. Gresham Machen because he believed that Machen was the one who was guilty of harming the denomination (the P.C.U.S.A.). After the liberals neutralized the moderates, gained a lot of adherents and got the votes they needed on seminary boards and ecclesiastical courts they revealed their true colors by persecuting orthodox, confessional men of God.

The men of the modern Auburn Ave. heresy and their defenders have used similar tactics. They argue that we should not fight against one another when the real enemy is secular humanism and its fruits in society; that it is uncharitable to accuse other ministers of heresy when they are simply clarifying and advancing certain doctrines; that these men have been outstanding defenders of Christianity for years; that attacking their teachings is hurting the body of Christ and is a bad witness to the world. These false teachers are very clever. They want their teachings to leaven the church quietly and insidiously. They do not want anyone to raise suspicions or expose their teachings for what they are. These men and their apologists have been very effective at raising a smoke screen to obscure their real intentions. Beloved, “take heed and beware”. The man who converts to Roman Catholicism, leaves the Reformed church and worships the virgin Mary is not the greatest threat. It is the men who depart from the faith, who hide their intentions, who remain in the church who are dangerous. Their doctrine works like yeast in the body corrupting this man here, that family  there, this elder over here and that seminary student over there. It is our biblical duty to refute those who contradict (Titus 1:9); to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3); to exhort men to teach no other doctrine (1 Tim. 1:3) than the one received from Christ and the apostles.

Leaven has a natural tendency to leaven the whole loaf. The historical pattern is quite clear. False teaching moves from bad to worse and false teaching if left unchecked eventually penetrates the whole body. The corrupt Pharisaical church in Jesus’ day did not arise overnight. The process of apostasy took centuries; false teachers brought in their human innovations slowly. A human tradition was added here and a ritual was added there until the true religion was obscured under a large edifice of human theological ideas, rules and regulations. Some of these human traditions can be seen in the Babylonian Talmud which consists of thirty-four large volumes of fine print. The Pharisees did not purposely set out to destroy biblical religion. They simply wanted to improve upon it and protect it with their own ideas. They did not ask the people to abandon the Old Testament or their cherished doctrines. They just wanted the people to accept a few “minor improvements” to fence the law, to make religion better. Their perversion of the church was slow, virtually imperceptible and progressive, until eventually it permeated the whole lump.

The corruption of the Roman Catholic Church occurred in a similar manner. Small changes were made in the government, worship and doctrine of the church. These little additions were often done for pragmatic yet sincere reasons. Each generation, however, inherits these human traditions, attributes an added sanctity to the practices which are now quite old and adds some new innovations of their own. If we isolate each addition or change, it may seem minor. It may not look like a big threat to the church at all. But, if we examine how little changes add up over time and accumulate we can observe how minor, almost imperceptible, changes eventually have disastrous consequences for the church. There is a progressive growth of corruption until the whole lump is leavened. (For example, the full-blown doctrine of the supremacy of the papacy developed over a period of one thousand years). The people are often taken in by the fact that changes are so minor. But, as each change is accepted and becomes an indispensable tradition that people are used to, expect and love, the more difficult it becomes to return the church to its biblical foundation (i.e., doctrine and practice based on Scripture alone). Therefore, when someone bids the church to accept a “minor” addition to Scripture or some new doctrine we must not be careless or apathetic. We must understand the nature of leaven. We must understand that even small additions will have disastrous consequences. Because leaven spreads its effect so slowly and imperceptibly people are often not even aware of what is happening to their church; that the rope of sola Scriptura has been cut and the church has begun to drift from its biblical moorings. Thus, once again, we must note the importance of Christ’s warning: “Watch out and beware”. Small changes and additions to what God has authorized in His word have a trajectory that is deadly. They lead to apostasy and judgment.

The leaven of the Sadducees works like the leaven of the Pharisees but to a different end. Full blown modernism did not arise overnight. The main line denominations took almost two generations to become apostate. The leaven of the Sadducees has small beginnings. In modern times it usually begins with new theories regarding the early chapters of Genesis. A literal Adam and Eve are replaced with poetic metaphor. The six days are said to be billions of years. Evolutionary theories are accepted. People are told that Christianity needs to be harmonized with the findings of modern science. Then scientific theories are applied to textual research. Then miracles are denied and all is lost: the virgin birth, vicarious atonement, the resurrection, etc. Biblical Christianity degenerates to the point where churches are the enemies of every major teaching in the Bible. We must be on guard against even small changes or accommodations to so called science. We must guard the integrity of the doctrine of Scripture with every fiber of our being. J. C. Ryle writes:

Beware of the very small beginnings of false doctrine. Every heresy began at one time with some little departure from the truth. There is only a little seed of error needed to create a great tree. It is the little stones that make up the mighty building. It was the little timbers that made the great ark that carried Noah and his family over a deluged world. It is the little leaven that leavens the whole lump. It is the little flaw in one link of the chain cable that wrecks the gallant ship, and drowns the crew. It is the omission or addition of one little item in the doctor’s prescription that spoils the whole medicine, and turns it into poison. We do not tolerate quietly a little dishonesty, or a little cheating, or a little lying. Just so, let us never allow a little false doctrine to ruin us, by thinking it is but a “little one,” and can do no harm. The Galatians seemed to be doing nothing very dangerous when they “observed days and months, and times and years.” Yet St. Paul says, “I am afraid of you.” (Gal. iv. 10, 11)[2]

We must be aware of even small additions or detractions from God’s word. The church must guard itself against every deviation from the truth. False doctrines have a tendency to progress from bad to worse, from a small departure to an apostate system.

 

Ways to Avoid Doctrinal Subversion

 

          Jesus’ warning was given to the apostles and inscripturated so that His church throughout history would have an understanding of the dangers of false teaching. There are a number of things that we need to consider in order to protect ourselves from theological subversion.

First, believers have a responsibility to study the Scriptures. This involves not only a careful daily, Bible reading program but also the diligent use of study aids. Christians should learn the science of hermeneutics or biblical interpretation. False teachers take advantage of professing Christians lack of Bible knowledge and a lack of understanding on how to interpret “difficult” passages. Cults, for example, are notorious for taking passages out of context and ignoring the analogy of Scripture. Many heresies have arisen because one or two passages are interpreted in a manner that contradicts many clearer passages. To protect God’s people from false teachers Isaiah declared: “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (8:20). Every teaching or opinion is to be judged by Scripture. Thus, our Lord rebuked the false teaching of the Sadducees saying, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures…” (Mt. 22:29). Paul commended the Bereans because they did not accept Paul’s new doctrine simply because he said it was true but “searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Ac. 17:11).

Second, believers must stand upon the theological achievements of their spiritual forefathers. Throughout the history of the church, battles have raged over many important doctrines. These battles have produced corporate sanctification, a more careful exegesis of biblical passages and a clarification of many doctrinal issues. It is our responsibility to learn systematic theology to inoculate ourselves from false teachings. A multiplication of cults and heresies always accompanies times of theological ignorance. Anyone familiar with the history of the church knows that many of the same heresies appear (with minor variations) over and over again to threaten the church. People who do not have a grasp of theology are the most vulnerable to attack. Thus Paul compares new believers to babies because they do not yet possess the spiritual discernment necessary to steer a path through false doctrine and subtle temptations. Because our time is one of great theological ignorance it is also one in which declension and heresy is spreading rapidly.

We must take full advantage of the many wonderful doctrinal books and creeds that have been produced by the Calvinistic wing of the Reformation. Every family should own a copy of the Westminster Standards, the Three Forms of Unity and the first six ecumenical councils of the church.

Third, Christians must place themselves in a church that is Reformed confessionally and truly Reformed with regard to its leadership. If a believer is to grow into maturity he must sit under exegetical, theological, applicatory preaching. Paul says that God has appointed some men as pastor-teachers in the church to equip and edify the body of Christ so “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting…” (Eph. 4:14).

The importance and centrality of preaching has been largely lost in our day of church growth gimmicks, rock and roll worship, drama and story-telling comedian pastors. All of these things may make the “worship” service a lot of fun. But, they do not bring the spiritual maturity that people need to stand up to subtle heresies. Evangelical churches are entering a new dark age of ignorance and superstition because their concept of Christianity rotates around having an experience instead of learning about faith and life through diligent, doctrinal teaching and study.

Fourth, there must be a restoration of biblical church discipline in “conservative” Reformed denominations to protect the flock from all false prophets and doctrinal deviants. There are a number of things that need to be done in this regard.

(1) Presbyterian churches must return to a strict subscription to the Westminster Standards. In “conservative” Presbyterian denominations, pastors and elders are required to take an ordination vow stating that they “sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith…as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures.”[3]  The purpose of strict confessionalism is threefold. (a) It is necessary to hold onto the corporate doctrinal attainments of the past (e.g., the trinity, the two natures of Christ in one person, the atonement, justification by faith alone, the new birth, etc). (b) It is a public confession of who we are, of what we believe as Reformed Presbyterians. It is an organized summary of the doctrines which we believe are fundamental principles of Christianity. It is the system of doctrine by which we unite in church fellowship. (c) It is a doctrinal statement carefully constructed to exclude men with certain theological views from the church (e.g., modernism, Sabellianism, Nestorianism, Arianism, theistic evolution, day-age theories, non-sabbatarianism, will-worship, etc).

Today there is such a loose practice of subscription among most Presbyterian and Reformed churches that pastors and elders are permitted to openly hold non-confessional heretical opinions on crucial doctrines such as creationism (e.g., day-age, theistic evolution, framework hypothesis, etc), justification (e.g., the imputation of Christ’s righteousness is denied, neo-legalism or the Norman Shepherd heresy; covenant faithfulness as co-instrument of justification), the atonement (e.g., Arminianism, the Auburn Ave heresy), the sufficiency of Scripture (the regulative principle of worship is widely rejected in “Reformed” denominations today; the acceptance of so-called modern Charismatic prophecy), the sacraments (e.g., baptismal regeneration, sacramentalism, paedocommunion), the covenant of works, sabbatarianism, the distinction between the visible and invisible church, perseverance, union with Christ, personal regeneration and the second commandment (e.g., pictures of Jesus are used to instruct children ). There are so many examples of pastors and elders who are teaching and practicing things contrary to the Westminster Standards one could reasonably conclude that a number of these “conservative” Presbyterian denominations are already on the path toward apostasy. It is a sad and tragic time when presbyteries and general assemblies allow pastors and elders to subvert and overthrow the very doctrines they have sworn to uphold. Why is this travesty of justice allowed to occur? There are a number of reasons: (a) some men have an unbiblical, humanistic, permissive concept of love; (b) some men do not think doctrine is very important; (c) some men are “go along to get along” cowards; and (d) some denominations develop “good old boy” networks of bureaucrats who historically have been incompetent theologically and pragmatic socially. It is time for Presbyterian denominations to stop ordaining and allowing liars and theological perverts into the ministry. If a man has an exception to a minor, non-essential point in the Confession (e.g., the Pope or the papacy being the man of sin in 2 Th. 2:3ff.) then he must plainly state his exception to the Standards and have that exception recorded by Presbytery.

(2) Presbyterian churches must bring ecclesiastic sanctions against those who teach false doctrines and damnable heresies. This point is the logical corollary to the previous consideration. The procedures that lead to sanctions must be biblical, diligent, swift and consistent. A confessional standard that is not backed up by sanctions is over the long run worthless. A modern loose subscription inevitably leads to church courts that are arbitrary and inconsistent in their application of discipline. In other words, judicial decisions end up being based more on the make-up of a commission than on Scriptural or confessional principles. Sola Scriptura is replaced with human wisdom, tradition and pragmatism.[4]

(3) Presbyterian churches must speak out publicly and write position papers against all false doctrines that are making inroads in the Reformed community. In our day when theological wolves wander among the flock many pastors and elders do absolutely nothing to stop them. Even worse many leaders in various churches are defending the wolves while condemning the shepherds who have sounded a warning against them. Ministers and church governors have a responsibility to nip heresy in the bud. It is unbiblical and foolish to wait until heretical views have a strong foothold in the church before taking action. There is no doctrinal or ethical neutrality. Error must be fought against and stopped or else it will spread like a deadly cancer through the body.

Fifth, heads of households must train and catechize their children so that they will able to discern between good and evil; good doctrine and bad.[5] When prelatical apologists were sent by the Church of England throughout the countryside of Scotland in the seventeenth century to turn the Presbyterians into good Episcopalians, the prelates were amazed at the biblical and theological knowledge of these rather poor Scottish peasants. In town after town, the prelates were soundly refuted and turned away by simple folk who had a solid grasp of Reformed theology. Sadly, today we have a different situation—popular “Reformed” speakers advocate doctrines that are blatantly unscriptural and irrational and unlearned church goers accept them willingly.

If heads of households build up a good Reformed library; study; learn as they ought and then teach their children the truth, the false prophets among us would not even receive a hearing. They would be fired and sent packing to Rome or Constantinople where they belong.

 

Conclusion   

 

We live in a time of great declension for many Presbyterian and Reformed churches, a time of toleration for error and syncretism with the surrounding culture. Therefore, we must carefully note and heed the many warnings and imperatives regarding purity of doctrine and false teachers in Scripture (e.g., “note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned and avoid them” [Rom. 16:17]; “charge some that they teach no other doctrine” [1 Tim. 1:3]; “guard what was committed to your trust” [1 Tim. 6:20]; “hold fast the pattern of sound words” [2 Tim. 1:13]; “shun idle and profane babblings” [2 Tim. 2:16]; “exhort and convince those who contradict” [Tit. 1:9]; “beware of false prophets” [Mt. 7:15], etc). This point is especially important because there are neo-legalists among us who occupy positions of influence, who subvert whole households and churches with carefully crafted heretical doctrines, with simultaneous affirmations of Reformed truth and dangerous heresies.

It is time for every Reformed believer, every pastor, elder and deacon to take a stand for the gospel and fight for the truth. Does not Paul refer to the church as “the pillar and ground of the truth”?[6] (1 Tim. 3:15) Doesn’t this mean that the church has a responsibility to believe, teach, propagate, uphold and obey what God has revealed (the Bible and the whole truth of Christianity including the whole body of inspired precepts and doctrines). The church has a responsibility to keep as a sacred treasure biblical doctrine. She must not modify, ignore, corrupt, add to or detract from the authoritative, unchanging doctrine of Scripture. “The grand test is, does she hold by the truth of God? Is she in her belief and practice a witness for this? Or does she gainsay and pervert it?”[7] One of the church’s most important responsibilities in upholding the truth is warning people regarding false teachers and deviant doctrines. We must continually be on guard against the leaven of the Scribes and Pharisees. May God enable us to faithfully carry the banner of truth in order to preserve our precious covenanted reformation unto future generations. Amen.

 

Copyright 2004 © Brian M. Schwertley, Haslett, MI

 

Home Free Downloads Books to Buy

 

            



[1] Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989 [1910]) 3:796.

[2] J. C. Ryle, Home Truths (Conrad, MT: Triangle Press, no date [c. 1857]), 3:119.

[3] This is the ordination vow of the P.C.U.S.A. in the nineteenth century. It is identical or virtually identical to the vows made in conservative Presbyterian denominations today. For Example vow 2 in the Orthodox Presbyterian Book of Church Order (1995) reads: “Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and Catechism of this Church as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures?” (p. 62)

[4] In his analysis of the conflicts between modernism and orthodox Christianity in the P.C.U.S.A., Gary North notes that neutrality with regard to any standard is impossible. He writes: “In 1901, the leaders on all three sides of the Presbyterian conflict had verbally and publicly professed faith in that historic Confessional position, despite the fact that none of them fully believed it. Having sworn a public oath to defend a standard they did not fully believe the officers of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., had little incentive to use the denomination’s courts to impose the oath’s mandatory negative sanctions. But without negative sanctions there can be no organization. Some negative sanctions would eventually be imposed. These sanctions would be imposed in terms of a standard other than the Westminster Confession of Faith and its two catechisms. The institutional question became: By what other standard? The quest for this rival standard was the fundamental theme of the final three phases of the Presbyterian conflict, 1901-1936.” (Crossed Fingers: How the Liberals Captured the Presbyterian Church[Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1996], 9)

[5] Since the nineteenth century the responsibility of fathers or covenant heads to lead the family theologically has increasingly been replaced by church programs (Sunday school, youth groups, vacation Bible schools, etc). Fathers have a responsibility to know and understand Reformed theology in order to lead, teach, nurture and protect their families from theological perverts and heretics. Today, however, many men have only a little theological knowledge; many men do not have the needed theological sophistication to protect their families from subtle and dangerous heresies. (For example, the Auburn Ave. theological perversions have spread rapidly in some Reformed circles even though this system is a radical departure from Reformed orthodoxy). Reformed denominations must train fathers to be the spiritual leaders they ought to be so that doctrinal deviants will immediately face an army of opposition and be forced from their   pulpits. (When the P.C.U.S.A. became apostate in the 1920’s and abused the great reformer, J. Gresham Machen, only a tiny handful of people obeyed Scripture and separated themselves from apostasy.) Heads of households must be expected to sturdy their Bibles and theological materials in order to protect the future. One cannot except to adequately learn theology simply by attending church. One must study to show thyself approved (2 Tim. 2:15).

[6] When Paul speaks of the church as the “ground” (KJV, NKJV), “support” (NASB), “foundation” (NIV, Phillips), “basement” (Fairbairn) or “bulwark” (RSV, NEB) of the truth he is not saying that the church invents or determines the truth (e.g., Romanism) which is absurd and impossible since the foundation of all truth is in the ontological triune God of Scripture, but rather that the church has a responsibility to believe, teach, uphold and obey what God has revealed unto it. Calvin writes: “The reason why the Church is called the ‘pillar of truth’ is that she defends and spreads it by her agency. God does not himself come down from heaven to us, nor does he daily send angles to make known his truth; but he employs pastors, whom he has appointed for that purpose. To express it in a more holy manner is not the Church the mother of all believers? Does she not regenerate them by the word of God, educate and nourish them through their whole life, strengthen, and bring them at length to absolute perfection? For the same reason, also, she is called “the pillar of truth;” because the office of administering doctrine, which God hath placed in her hands, is the only instrument of preserving the truth, that it may not perish from the remembrance of men.

Consequently this commendation relates to the ministry of the word; for if that be removed, the truth of God will fall to the ground. Not that it is less strong, if it be not supported by the shoulders of me, as the same Papists idly talk; for it is shocking blasphemy to say, the word of God is uncertain, till it obtain from men what may be called a borrowed certainty. Paul simply means what he states elsewhere in other words, that since our ‘faith is by hearing,’ there will be no faith, unless there be preaching. (Rom. X. 17) Accordingly in reference to men, the Church maintains the truth, because by preaching the Church proclaims it, because she keeps it pure and entire, because she transmits it to posterity. And it the instruction of the gospel be not proclaimed, it there be no godly ministers who, by their preaching, rescue truth from darkness and forgetfulness, instantly falsehoods, errors, impostures, superstitions, and every kind of corruption, will reign. In short, silence in the Church is the banishment and crushing of the truth.” (Commentaries on the Epistle to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980], 90-91)

[7] Patrick Fairbairn, Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1956 [1874]), 157.

The Final Judgment By Brian Schwertley

The final judgment is the last major event connected to the second coming of Christ. When Jesus returns, the resurrection of the body will occur and the whole human race will appear before the judgment seat of Christ. This doctrine has always been maintained by the church of Christ. It was affirmed in the post apostolic church (e.g., the Apostles Creed [c.A.D.170], and the Nicene Creed [A.D. 325]) as well by all the symbols of the major Protestant denominations. (1) Although this doctrine is often met with fear and loathing among unbelievers, it is a great comfort and blessing to believers. A day of perfect justice is coming in which our Lord will be vindicated publicly and the saints will hear “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Mt. 25:34) from the lips of Jesus. There are many things to consider as we study this important doctrine.

1. The Future Reality of The Last Judgment

It is important to establish the future reality of the final judgment because it is often denied. It is denied by modernist theologians who regard the last judgment passages as merely figurative of various judgments that occur throughout history. It also is denied by “hyper-preterists” who believe the second coming, general resurrection, and final judgment have already taken place in A.D. 70 when Jerusalem was destroyed.

(A) Why do people believe that the final judgment is a process or has already taken place? A major reason is that people confuse personal, historical and partial judgments in history with the final judgment at the end of history. In the Bible there are many examples of personal (e.g., Korah [Num. 16:31-32], Ahab [1 Kgs.22: 23,34ff.] and Herod [Ac. 12: 22-23]) and national judgments (e.g., Egypt [Ex.14: 30-31; Isa. 19], Babylon [Isa.14; 21: 1-10], Judah [Isa. 1:21-31], Judah [Isa. 1:21-31], Edom [Isa. 21:11-17], etc.). The language used of these judgments is often very similar to the terminology used to describe the second bodily coming of the Lord and the final judgment (e.g., “the day of the LORD” [Isa. 2:12; 13:6; Jer. 13:5; Ezek. 30:3; Joel 1:15; 2: 1,11,31; 3:14; Am. 5: 18,20; Zeph. 1: 15,18]; “the day of vengeance” [Pr.6: 34; Isa. 34:8; 61:2]; “the days of vengeance” [Lk. 21: 22]; “the day of visitation”[Isa. 10: 3]; “the day of evil” [Jer. 17:17]; “the day of slaughter” [Jer. 12: 3]; “the day of indignation” [Ezek. 22:24]; “the day of His coming” (Mal. 3:2); “Behold, He is coming” [Mal. 3:1]; “the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord” [Mal. 4:5]; the coming on the clouds phraseology [ef., Isa. 19:1; Nah. 1:3; Mk. 14:62; Mt. 26:64]). The similarity of language does not mean that Christ’s second bodily coming and final judgment occurred in A.D. 70 any more than in the days of Isaiah, Jeremiah or Joel. It does, however, teach us that all the visitations of judgment throughout human history point to the final day of wrath, when evil will be totally eradicated from the earth forever.

Another reason for rejecting the final judgment as historically understood is the misinterpretation and misapplication of Hebrews 9:27, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” Full preterists use this passage as a proof text for their assertion that the final judgment has already taken place (in A.D. 70) and that each person enters into the judgment immediately at death. In other words, the New Testament teaches not a future universal judgment but merely individual personal judgments at death. This view is erroneous for the following reasons. First, there is absolutely nothing in this passage that contradicts the biblical and confession teaching regarding a future universal judgment. Orthodox commentators interpret this passage in two different manners, both of which do not contradict the historic position of the church. The majority view regards the statement “after this the judgment” as referring to the final judgment after the second bodily coming of Christ. The phrase “after this” (meta touto) is indefinite. That is, the word after does not need to be interpreted in the sense of immediately after but simply some time after. Owen writes:

Now this “after” doth not denote the immediate succession of one thing unto another; –if one go before, and the other certainly follow after, whatever length of time be interposed between them, the assertion is true and proper. Many have been long dead, probably the most that shall die, and yet judgment is not come after. But it shall come in its appointed season; and so as that nothing shall interpose between death and judgment to make any alteration in the state or condition of the persons concerned in them. The souls of them that are dead are yet alive, but are utterly incapable of any change in their condition between death and judgment. “As death leaves men, so shall judgment find them.” (2)

The author of Hebrews is pointing out the fact that judgment invariably follows the death of the body; “for while death itself is a judgment that sinful man has brought upon himself, it is not the final judgment.” (3) The when of the final judgment must be determined by other portions of Scripture. “This ‘judgment’ is here opposed to the ‘salvation of believers at the second appearing of Christ. It is the judgment of the wicked at the last great day: Rom. 2:5.” (4)

Another interpretation is that the author of Hebrews is not even addressing the issue of the final judgment, but is simply pointing out that after death everyone at once has their soul placed in heaven or in hell. In contrast to the judgment of the last day, which is universal and public, this judgment is hidden and private. In favor of this view is the fact that the word for judgment (krisis) in this passage is anarthrous. “The writer does not say that the judgment immediately succeeds the death of the body, but that a judgment does.” (5) Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible reads: “it is laid up to men once to die, and after this–judgment.” (6)One’s immediate state after death is a declaration concerning the eternal condition of the deceased. Those who are not in Christ immediately receive a condemnatory sentence.

Second, one must reject the hyper-preterist interpretation of Hebrews because it is contradicted by many clear portions of Scripture. A principal rule of biblical interpretation is that the clearer portions of the Scripture must be used to interpret the less clear. Not only does God’s word unequivocally teach that the final judgment occurs after the second bodilycoming of Christ (7) and the general resurrection, it also teaches that it is a universal event (i.e., all men and women who have ever lived will be raised and judged together). Before considering the biblical chronology of the final judgment let us first turn our attention to a few passages that explicitly disprove hyper-preterism.

One such passage is John 5: 28-29. It reads: “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” There are a number of reasons why this passage cannot refer to regeneration, progressive condemnations or the events of judgment in A.D. 70. (1) Unlike verse 25 which refers to regeneration (which Jesus says is already taking place -”and now is”) the events of verse 28 and 29 are entirely future, “the hour is coming”. (2) The phrase “those who have done good” points not to regeneration but to the fruits of saving faith lived over the course of one’s Christian life. (3) Jesus doesn’t say, “the dead” (as in verse 25) which often refers to spiritual death (e.g., Eph. 2:1; Lk. 9:60); but uses the expression “all who are in the graves.” This expression is obviously meant to be taken literally. The hyper-preterist appeal to the dry bones and graves imagery of Ezekiel 37 cannot be applied to John 5:28-29. God interprets the poetic imagery of Ezekiel and says explicitly that it refers to the revival and restoration of Israel to their land after the captivity. In John’s gospel Jesus’ statement is not poetic metaphor and is left uninterpreted because it is meant to be take at face value. (4) The phrase “all who are in their graves” cannot refer only to people who are unregenerate or spiritually dead because it is applied by Christ to both the saved (the regenerate) and the lost. Unlike verse 25 where Jesus says “those who hear will live” which implies two classes of people (hearers–regenerate and non-hearers–unregenerate), verse 28 refers to the whole number of the dead. (5) Our Lord speaks of a resurrection with two opposite results. One results in life (i.e., eternal life) the other in condemnation. That condemnation refers to both body and soul being cast into the lake of fire is proved in two ways. First, the unregenerate/unbelieving person is said in Scripture to be condemned already (Jn. 3: 18). Therefore, what Christ points to in the future is something more than just being unregenerate or unsaved. Second, the resurrection to condemnation cannot refer simply to going to hell when one dies because: a.) Jesus said it is future (i.e., it hasn’t happened yet). Yet, when our Lord spoke those words, millions of people were already in hell and, b.) Christ spoke of a single event (“all…will come forth”), not a progressive process. (6) The Old Testament verse that closely resembles Jesus’ statement speaks of a literal resurrection. “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Dan. 12: 2-3). “The major difference between this passage and John 5: 28-29 is that Daniel is only speaking about the Jews who died during the period of great distress.” (8) Our Lord uses the word “all” and emphasizes that all (both saved and lost) will arise at His command. Daniel’s expression, literally “those who sleep in the ground of dust shall awake”, cannot be circumvented by hyper-preterists. The word “sleep” in Scripture is used of people who are physically dead (cf. Lk. 8: 52-56; Jn. 11:11, 13; Ac. 7: 60; 1 Cor. 11: 30; 15:51; 1 Th. 4:14:5:10). The phrase “dust of the earth” (lit. “dusty earth”) is based on Genesis 3:19. It refers to the grave (cf. Job. 20:11), the resting place of the dead body. A literal bodily/physical resurrection of both the saved and unsaved will occur in the future. Since graveyards are presently full of dead human bodies (both saved and lost) we know positively that hyper-preterism is a lie of the devil.

Another passage that completely disproves the hyper-preterist heresy is Matthew 10:28, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Our Lord tells the disciples not to fear their persecutors who only have power to cause physical death. Such wicked men can only do harm to our physical bodies. They cannot harm or destroy the soul (psyche). However, Christians are to fear God who has the power “to destroy both soul and body in hell.” The Bible teaches that there is an immaterial, invisible element to man called the soul or spirit (psyche, pneuma). There also is a physical, material, visible aspect of man, the body (soma). God has the authority to cast both body and soul into hell (Greek, gehenna). This word is “generally used to describe the abode of the wicked, body and soul, after the judgment day”. (9)“‘Soul and body in Gehenna’ implies the bodily resurrection of the damned”. (10) Hendriksen writes:

Jesus, then, is saying that there is an everlasting future for both the soul and the body. Neither will ever be annihilated. But everlasting “destruction” is in store for those who reject him. The attempt to save the body so that it may continue to exist here and now for a very brief span of time, while the everlasting interests of the entire person, soul and body, are being neglected, is foolish indeed, like exchanging a minor for a major peril. (11)

Has there been a point in history in which all the wicked were raised from the dead and then cast “both soul and body” into hell? No, there most definitely has not. Therefore, hyper-preterism is false. Such heretics must deny many explicit passages of Scripture in order to cling to their doctrinally perverse paradigm. Many more examples could be cited but we must move on. (12)

(B) The Bible teaches that the final judgment will occur immediately after the second coming and the general resurrection. Matthew 25:31-34, 41 reads:

When the Son of man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, “Come you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”…then He will also say to those on the left hand, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

In Revelation 20: 11-15 we read:

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. (cf. Mt. 13:30; 47-50) (13)

These passages are so clear that no one should be taken in by the skeptical perversions of the modernists or hyper-preterists. All nations are judged together in a public manner. All the dead are raised and set before the judgment seat of Christ. “The manner and place of their dying make no difference; it matters not whether they were drowned at sea or consumed by fire or devoured by wild beasts, or whether they succumbed through illness or old age; all are given up to judgment.” (14)

(C) Scripture says that the final judgment will be accompanied by a destruction of the earth by fire and will be immediately followed by the handing of the kingdom over to the Father. 2 Peter 3:7, 10-13 reads:

But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the Day of Judgment and perdition of ungodly men….But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Note that Peter compares and contrasts the destruction of the world by water (3:6), which was a global event with the coming destruction of the earth by fire. When Jesus returns not only will all evil and sin be destroyed, but the earth as we know it now will likewise be destroyed. There will be no more disease; there will be no more death, crying and sorrow. All suffering will be removed. “There will be a glorified earth and a glorified heaven, and glorified men and women will live on such an earth and under such a heaven”. (15) The final consummation is a world-wide (i.e., it covers the entire globe) event; it cannot be limited to Palestine or the Roman empire in A.D. 70. (16) This fundamental truth is why Paul says the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the Son of God so that it will be delivered from the bondage of corruption (Rom. 8:19-25). No domain will be left in the universe in which the absolute supremacy of Christ and of His work is not fully realized and made effective. The final judgment is coterminous or immediately prior to that great event.

(D) In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul says that after the general resurrection Christ’s kingdom will be handed over to the Father.

But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till he has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death (15:20-26).

Since the Bible places the final judgment immediately after the second coming of Christ and general resurrection, Paul’s statement renders any concept of a progressive judgment or a final judgment in A.D. 70 impossible. The word translated “end” (Gk. sunteleia) means full end. There is to be an ultimate and final consummation when death is forever eliminated and the eternal state of perfect and final victory is realized. “The end is, when Christ shall deliver up his kingdom, after having subdued all his enemies; i.e., after having accomplished the work of redemption” (17) (i.e., bringing it to a full completion in history whereby all the elect are saved, have glorified bodies, and inherit a glorified earth). When Christ’s definitive victory of the cross and resurrection is fully and completely brought to pass in history, then He will “deliver up” this authority or rule to His Father. Hyper-preterists (if consistent) would teach that this has already occurred. (The proof of a future final judgment is also demonstrated in the universality of the parties involved discussed below).

2. The Subjects of Judgment

The Bible teaches that at the final judgment Jesus will judge the whole human race (“the quick and the dead”) as well as the fallen angels. In Matthew 13 our Lord said that the wheat and the tares would be gathered and separated at the end of the age (vv. 30, 36-43). In the parable of the dragnet the wicked and the just are gathered, separated and judged by Christ (Mt. 13:47-50). In Matthew 25 all the nations stand before Jesus and the sheep and goats will be separated one from another (vv. 31-34, 41). Paul in his preaching at the Areopagus was very clear on the universality of the last judgment. He said, “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” (Ac. 17:30-31). Note that the word “world” must be interpreted in the context of the phrase “all men everywhere” (v. 30). All men everywhere (a double expression emphasizing universality–”every person in every place”) must repent because the world (“all men everywhere”) will be judged. One cannot legitimately restrict the term “world” in this passage to the Roman Empire.

The account in Revelation 20 is especially clear on the issue: “And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works” (vv. 12-13). All the dead, whether small or great, whether in the grave or at the bottom of the sea, are summoned. Billions of people and myriads of angels will be gathered before the throne of the Son of God. These passages are in fundamental agreement with John 5:28-29 which speaks of all who are in their graves being resurrected and judged at the same time (“an hour is coming” when “all who are in their graves will arise”). This scenario is also supported by 1 Thessalonians 5 where Paul says that when Christ returns the wicked will receive sudden destruction (v. 3) while the righteous will be saved (v. 9).

In addition, the Bible says that evil angels will be judged on that day. Peter writes “God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment” (2 Pet. 2:4). Jude 6 says that the fallen angels are “reserved in everlasting chains in darkness for the judgment of the great day”. In Revelation 20 we are told that the devil will be “cast into the lake of fire” where “he will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (v. 10). This fate awaits all demons. That is why the demons ask Jesus in Matthew 8:29, “Have You come here to torment us before the time?” Even the demons know that a day of judgment, over which Christ sits supreme, awaits them.

A question that is often asked regarding the last judgment is: “Will the sins of believers be made public on that day”? There are theologians and commentators who argue that since the sins of Christians are covered by the blood of Christ, they cannot be a subject of discussion at the judgment. Although the Bible teaches that believers have the guilt and penalty of their sins removed and are clothed with Jesus’ perfect righteousness and thus are not in danger of being cast into hell, Scripture does teach very clearly that all Christians will have to give an account on that day. The reasons for this assertion are manifold. First, one cannot avoid the biblical passages that speak of the judgment as an event that includes both the saved and the unsaved (e.g., Eccl. 12:14; Mt. 13:30, 36-43, 47-50; 25:31-34, 41; Ac. 17:30-31; Rev. 20:12-13). Second, the evaluation of a believer’s works on the day of judgment is explicitly taught in the epistles and is used by Paul to spur believers toward greater diligence in sanctification. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done good or bad.” (2 Cor. 5:10) “He who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God” (1 Cor. 4:4-5). “Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work that he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:12-15). “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ….So then each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:10,12). Even the elders of the church must give an account before God (Heb. 13:17). “An account cannot be given, however, except by a careful disclosure of one’s entire conduct, and thus the imperfections and failures of the faithful will of necessity also be made public.”(18)Third, passages which warn believers that “God will judge the secrets of men” (Rom. 2:16); that men will give an account on the day of judgment “for every idle word” they speak (Mt. 12:36) cannot (given the context and audience) be restricted to unsaved sinners. Statements made by Jesus and the apostles, which are intended to spur Christians to a greater obedience, lose all their force if they do not apply to believers!

This view of the judgment raises a number of objections. First, if Jesus paid for all our sins why would He bring them up again on that day? Would this not bring shame upon the saints? (19) Is not such shame incompatible with the joy of that day? One must keep in mind that the sins evaluated are forgiven sins. They are brought up not to shame the believer but to magnify God’s grace and determine a suitable reward. Further, all saints who appear before the Son of God in their glorified bodies will be happy to confess all their sins to Christ. Being perfected in their sanctification, Christians on that day will not feel shame but rather will experience the sweetest type of spiritual joy. They will evaluate their own works not from a standpoint of selfishness, ego or self-glorification, but from the standpoint of having the mind of Christ. Thus, even the most faithful of saints will throw their crowns at the pierced feet of the Savior (Rev. 4:10).

Second, doesn’t the Bible say that the sins of believers are covered (Ps. 32:1), washed away (Ps. 51:2), cast into the depth of the sea (Mic. 7:19), never to be remembered by God (Isa. 43:25)? Indeed, it does say these things. However, these statements must be understood within the full context of Scripture. A reading of the Bible reveals that not only are the sins of great saints such as Moses, Abraham, David and Peter remembered by God, but are recorded in Scripture and thus published before all for eternity (Isa. 40:8). When the Bible speaks about God removing and forgetting sin it means that the guilt and penalty are removed. God no longer holds the sin against the sinner for Christ has paid the price. The passages regarding God forgetting sin must be applied to guilt and punishment for it is impossible for God to forget anything in a literal manner.

Third, doesn’t Jesus’ evaluation of the saints in the account of the last judgment in Matthew 25 refer to the good deeds of the saints (e.g. verses 35-36, “for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in”, etc.)? Indeed, it does. This section of Scripture, however, does not give an exhaustive description of the final judgment but only an abbreviated one. Christ is emphasizing the necessity of good works as a fruit of true faith and simply does not discuss the saint’s full evaluation that is clearly taught in other portions of Scripture. Paul, for example, discusses works that are essentially useless that will be consumed by fire (1 Cor. 3:12-15).

3. Jesus Christ the Judge

The Bible teaches that the judge of all mankind will be the divine-human mediator Jesus Christ. Our Lord said that “the Son of Man”, “The King” would sit on the throne of His glory and judge all nations (Mt. 25:31ff.). John’s gospel says the Father “has given Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man” (Jn. 5:27). When Peter preached to the Gentiles in Cornelius’ house, he taught the people the importance of this doctrine saying, “And He commanded us to teach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead” (Ac. 10:42). Likewise Paul said to the Athenians, “He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained” (Ac. 17:31). For Paul the knowledge of this coming day is a reason for believers to live in a manner that pleases Jesus, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10). “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and his kingdom” (2 Tim. 4:1).

Why does the Father give Jesus this great role as the judge of the world on the final day? There are three reasons for our Lord to be given such a role. The first and main reason is to glorify the Mediator. Christ’s role as judge is an aspect of His exaltation. It is part of His reward for his redemptive obedience. After describing our Lord’s state of humiliation even to the death of the cross, Paul says, “Therefore, God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth” (Phil. 2:9-10).

What an incredible display of Christ’s glory, honor, and power will that day bring. The days of humiliation are all in the past. The time of supreme exaltation has arrived. The Man born in a filthy manger, hunted by Herod, despised and rejected by the people, who suffered at the hands of wicked, unjust men, who was spit upon, beaten, whipped and crucified, is now seated on the great white throne, surrounded by a mighty army of angels, encircled with a great rainbow, with a countenance brighter than the sun. In his exalted presence every knee must bow. Jesus will have gone from the bitter dregs of debasement and humiliation to the throne of universal judgment–what an incredible ascent! He who was judged at Pilate’s seat will summon all to His throne. Before Him caesars, statesmen, generals, pontiffs, emperors, kings and all men of renown will bow as beggars in the dust. What a change from the insults and the spitting, the nails and the wounds, the mockery and the thirst, the abandonment and the dying anguish to the glory which will be revealed in that day. (20) Are you ready to stand before Him whose eyes are as a flame of fire?

Jesus’ judging of the whole world is the crowning honor of His kingship. As king of the nations, it is proper that He should conclude His mediatorial sovereignty by sitting in judgment over all kingdoms. This is an important aspect of gospel preaching. Our Lord has been and continues to be the prince over all men and all nations. No one is excepted. As the mediatorial king Christ demands repentance and submission to His law-word. Men and nations must either submit themselves to Jesus as Lord by believing the gospel and repenting of their sins or be broken as a potter’s vessel and be cast into hell. All men need to be told that a time is coming in which the messiah-king will judge and mete out vengeance upon His enemies. Sinners must bow before those pierced feet in the present or be crushed like grapes in the winepress of God’s wrath in the future.

Second, Jesus alone is uniquely suited to judge mankind because He is both God and man in one person. The fact that Christ will judge the secrets or hidden things of the heart is a great proof of His divinity. Only God who is omniscient knows and remembers our secret sins, our innermost thoughts and motives. Only God can dispense perfect justice on such a grand scale to literally billions and billions of people. Only God has the authority to determine what is good and what is evil; and, only God has the judicial authority to sentence men to the second death. Our Lord is uniquely qualified to judge humanity because he was tempted in all points like us, yet without sin. Men will never be able to say that they were judged by a detached remote being that did not know their weaknesses and temptations. Christ is a partaker of our humanity. He is bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. Therefore, He understands what it is to be a man. No person will ever be able to look back on that day and say that He who sat on the great white throne was to stern because He new nothing of human weakness. (21)

Third, Jesus is uniquely suited to judge all mankind because He is the mediator of the covenant of grace. Throughout all of human history, after the fall, grace and mercy came through Christ. It is appropriate that the one who endured the shame and shed His own blood so that men might be reconciled to God should judge all people who reject His gospel. Everyone who rejects the vicarious suffering (the tears, the bloodlike sweat, the thorn-pierced head, the blood-striped back, the gaping wounds and agony of soul) that our Savior endured deserves to be judged by the one they so coldly rejected. Every person who rejected the Savior’s message of peace, mercy and love must endure the judge’s words of wrath and fiery indignation. Those who treated the gospel offer with apathy or contempt will on that day be seized with horror and dread.

4. The Nature of the Judgment

There are a number of things that ought to be noted regarding the nature of the judgment.

(A) The judgment is a public event. (22) Jesus will return in glory surrounded by the host of heaven. As the judge he will summon all mankind (Mt. 25:32). The dead will arise at His call (Jn 5:28-29). The dead will come forth from their graves and even the oceans will give up the dead within them (Rev. 20:13). God has ordained the final day to be public for a number of reasons. First, (as noted) its public nature will glorify Christ. Our Lord who was publicly humiliated, condemned as a criminal and crucified will be publicly exalted and vindicated before the whole human race. Every mouth will be stopped and every knee will bow before Him. Second, God has decreed that the secrets of men whether good or evil be exposed in a very public manner. “In the day when God will judge the secrets of man by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel” (Rom. 2:16). Every sinner will hear the story of his wicked life published to his everlasting shame. The public nature of the event is obviously intended to magnify the guilt, shame and dread of the occasion. Third, the public nature of the event is also a vindication of the saints. Not only will the covenant people witness the exposure and condemnation of their enemies and persecutors; the persecutors of faithful Christians, the skeptics and mockers of the truth, will witness the exaltation of believers for the fruits of faith, the good works done in the body. It is a day when the tables are turned, when the humble shall be exalted, the meek shall inherit the earth and the wicked, the proud, and the boastful shall be abased. All who laughed at the true religion will be publicly cast into hell.

(B) The judgment is a judicial event. The whole scene of this event is one of a grand courtroom. There is a summons to which all must appear. There are spectators—the human race and the angelic hosts. There is the judge–Jesus Christ. There is the examination of evidence whereby everyone outside of Christ is proclaimed guilty and those who believed are declared righteous based on the merits of Christ. There is also the execution of the sentence. The wicked are cast into the lake of fire while the righteous are ushered into paradise. With His pierced hand Jesus will wave the impenitent away. The same lips that asked the multitudes to come to the wedding feast will say to the wicked, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels”(Mt. 25:41).

(C) The judgment brings an end to all rebellion against God forever. Human history has a terminus point, a time of reckoning. God permitted a long age of rebellion. For thousands of years God has showed patience and longsuffering to a wicked world. He has blessed the wicked with sunshine, rain, food and delights of every kind (beautiful beaches, lovely sunsets, family, friends, enjoyments, great food, fun vacations, laughter and merriment). But a day is coming when all rebellion will be crushed. For the unrepentant the “good times” are coming to an end. The doctrine of the final judgment is a total repudiation of evolutionary, cyclical or Manichean concepts of history. There has been a long day for sinning; therefore, God has ordained a special day for punishing. The definitive victory over evil that Christ achieved at the cross becomes a perfected reality on that day when the sheep are forever separated from the goats.

5. The Necessity of the Judgment

Why is this final universal judgment necessary? Why doesn’t God just progressively deal with sinners on an individual basis? Why doesn’t God just overlook the sins in a person’s life or just extinguish evil people by placing them in a state of non-existence? Why does God go to all the trouble of having this grand public event? There are a number of reasons why the final judgment is necessary. (A) God’s nature and character requires that a perfect and public reckoning take place. Every rebellious act against Jehovah’s holiness must receive its proper reward. God’s righteousness requires that sin be punished by death. The whole universe must witness the reality that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. The last judgment is a public display of God’s righteous and holy character. Jehovah wants every rational creature who ever lived to understand why Jesus had to suffer and die. In that great day there will be display of the unity of all of God’s perfections (wrath and love, righteousness and mercy) as every sin is met with justice. It will be clear that the elect are cleansed with the blood of Christ and clothed with His perfect righteousness. It will also be evident that those who hear “depart you cursed” are receiving exactly what justice requires. All men will observe how love and righteousness meet in equal splendor in the mediatorial king.

(B) The final judgment resolves the many injustices that occur in this world that have not been rectified on earth. There are wicked people who live and die in the lap of luxury. There are murderers, rapists and thieves who are never caught, exposed and punished for their crimes. There are dictators who oppress the poor, torture and murder innocent people, yet who live in palaces and die at a very old age. There are many people who have been severely wronged and have not experienced closure or justice in this life. There are thousands of Christians who have been slandered, beaten, imprisoned and even murdered for their faith. Will a righteous and holy God allow such inequities to go unpunished? Will the God of perfect justice allow injustice to continue in His universe? Will Jehovah allow evil people to get away with their sins and crimes? God’s nature requires that all injustices be resolved. God displays His perfect justice by publicly exposing all sins and crimes, by publicly declaring the guilt of the offending parties and by publicly meting out the sentence of condemnation. There is a day of perfect justice and closure because God’s nature demands it. There are no ethical loose ends in Jehovah’s kingdom. God will also make sure that all those who believed in Christ and faithfully served Him will be rewarded openly. There must be and there will be a day when God will judge the world.

6. The Standard of the Judgment

The standard by which all men will be judged is God’s revealed will in Scripture and nature. Jesus says: “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him–the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (Jn. 12:48). Paul says that even people who do not have written revelation will be judged. “For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law” (Rom. 2:12). The apostle goes on to discuss the fact that Gentiles (i.e., those who do not possess special revelation–the written Scriptures) have “the work of the law written on their hearts” (Rom. 2:15). Because everyone is created in God’s image, people have “moral motions.” They have consciences that accuse or excuse when they commit certain acts (cf. Rom. 2:16). Therefore, people cannot use the fact that they never had a Bible as an excuse to avoid God’s judgment and condemnation. Everyone knows what is right and wrong. Therefore, Jesus can say that at the resurrection all will “come forth–those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (Jn. 5:29-30). Deeds are defined as either good or evil. These categories are obviously defined by God. (Although this passage appears to teach that good deeds are what make the difference between heaven and hell on the final day, we know from other portions of Scripture that the good deeds of believers are the evidence or fruit of saving faith and thus are non-meritorious [cf. Rom. 3:21-28; 4: 5-8; Gal. 3:10-13; Jas. 2:14-26; etc.]).

Although the Bible teaches that people who have never received divine revelation or heard the gospel will be judged and condemned, it also teaches that the severity of the punishment is related to the amount of light spurned by the parties involved. Jesus taught that those who rejected the gospel message accompanied by great signs will receive a greater damnation. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the Day of Judgment than for you” (Mt. 11:21-22). He also said that people who knew God’s requirements yet who refused to obey them will receive greater punishment. “And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of strips, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more” (Lk. 12: 47-48). This principle is also taught in the parable of the talents where God expects a return on His investment (Mt. 25:20-30).

Even believers will receive rewards based on the quality of the works while done on earth. “Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work, which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved yet so as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:12-15). Note that there is no danger of being cast into hell if one has inferior stubble as works. This passage teaches that even though God enables us to do good works by His grace, in His sovereign good pleasure He gives us rewards for these works of grace. Although the question of whether or not a person goes to heaven or hell depends solely on whether or not he believes in Jesus Christ, there are different degrees of punishment in hell as well as different rewards in heaven. Everything will be determined on that great day according to what was done on earth.

7. The Extent of Disclosure on the Day of Judgment

The disclosure of conduct on that day will be exhaustive. Not only will all men without exception appear before the judgment seat of Christ, but also every sin will be made manifest. “For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Eccl. 12:14). “In the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel”(Rom 2:16). God will judge men’s thoughts–”Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts” (1 Cor. 4:5); words–”But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned (Mt. 12:36-37; cf. Jude 15 below); and deeds–”And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’” (Mt. 7:23). “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; for I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink” (Mt. 25:41-42). “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousand of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him” (Jude 14-15).

Why does the Bible emphasize the exhaustive nature of the final judgment? Why is the public examination so meticulous? A major reason is that the judgment reflects God’s nature and character. Jehovah not only wants us to know that He is omniscient but that every deed is noted for the coming day. The author of Hebrews reminds us of this fact. “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account” (Heb. 4:13). God tells us that every single sin committed will be exposed. Because God is both omniscient and perfectly just the judgment must be exhaustive. Jehovah cannot overlook violations of His law. He must right every wrong and render a perfect verdict in every case. If men are to be rewarded according to their deeds, then the deeds must be brought to light. Even sins committed in the heart (lust, unlawful hatred, impure thoughts, etc.) will be examined. What David says regarding himself in Psalm 139:1-4 applies to everyone. “O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off, You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O LORD, You know it altogether” (Ps. 139:1-4).

God has also made the judgment exhaustive in order to strike fear into the hearts of men. Unbelievers are to be warned that all things are naked and open to the eyes of Jehovah; that God sees and knows all things at one time exhaustively. God is watching. We are always under the eyes of holiness. There is no escape from perfect justice. No one will get away with sinful thoughts, words or acts. Every impure thought, every lie, every hurtful word, every act of fornication, every Sabbath desecration, every filthy joke will be recorded and made known. For the ungodly the judgment is a day of supreme terror. Therefore, knowledge of this great day should make sinners flee to Christ. The only refuge from an infinitely holy and omniscient God who knows all of our evil thoughts, words and acts is the atoning death and perfect righteousness of Christ. This reality is the reason that Paul says that the final judgment is an essential part of the gospel. “God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel” (Rom. 2:16). The background of the cross is the judgment seat of Christ. If God’s nature did not require a day when perfect justice is meted out, then God would not have required the death of Christ for sin. The exhaustive, meticulous nature of the final judgment reveals the exceeding sinfulness of sin. No stone will be left unturned because God hates sin with a perfect and infinite hatred. Such a day points to need and greatness of our Lord’s atoning death. Only the incredible sufferings of the God-man; the mediator who offered so vast a sacrifice; who endured the judgment and the terrors of hell can propitiate an omniscient and infinitely holy God.

This doctrine is also set before the Christian as an incentive toward holiness and good works. Professing Christians often make a distinction between secret and public sins. God, however, does not. All sins will be laid bare. Secret offenses will be brought into judgment. The deeds of the night. The sins hidden behind closed doors. Even sins hidden from husband or wife. If a professing Christian is living in dishonesty, untruthfulness, fornication, adultery, uncleanness or idolatry it will all be made known on that day. “Some men’s sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later” (1 Tim. 5:24). All hypocrisy will come to an end on that day. Hypocrites will have an eternity to ponder their foolishness and shame.

Further, all the sacrifices, good deeds and even secret works done on behalf of Christ will receive a reward. This fact should be a great incentive for kingdom work. We strive for righteousness and buffet our bodies not to receive the praise of men but to hear the words of our precious Savior, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Mt. 25:34). The wise and diligent Christian lays up “treasures in heaven where neither moth, nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Mt. 6:20). The fervent believer runs the race so that he may obtain a prize (1 Cor. 9:24). The faithful servant will receive an imperishable crown (1 Cor. 9:25). What is done for Christ will last forever. “Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward” (2 Jn. 8; cf. Col. 3:24; Heb. 11:26). Those who because of their faithfulness to Jesus had to wander in the woods clothed with rags will dwell in mansions clothed in glittering apparel. Be diligent. Run the race. Fight the good fight for your labors in Christ are not in vain. You will receive a reward that can never perish or be taken away when our king returns.

8. The Finality of the Judgment

The sentence uttered by Jesus on that day will be irrevocable. The wicked will be cast into the lake of fire where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth and the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever (cf. Mt. 13:40-42; Rev. 14:11; 20:10). The righteous will enter the joy of their Lord and behold the face of God. They will live in blissful communion with Jesus and lean upon His breast forever. Oh, how this truth sweetens heaven. Once the verdict is spoken there are no second chances, no reprieves or pardons. The time to look to Christ with the eyes of faith is now. The time to serve Jesus and work for His Kingdom is in the present. May God enable you by His grace to lay down the weapons of your warfare and trust in God’s beloved Son. “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him form the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9).

Endnotes

1.  E.g., The Confession of Augsburg (Article 17); The Confession of Basle (Article 9); The Confession of England (Article 23); The Belgic Confession (Article 37), the Articles of the Church of Ireland (Article 19); Westminster Confession of Faith (33: 1-3), Larger Catechism (88-90), Shorter Catechism (38); Second London Confession (Ch. 31: 1-3; 32: 1-3); the ‘Orthodox Creed’ (Article 50); etc.

2.  John Owen, An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980 [1855]), 6:410.

3.  Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), p. 387.

4.  Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1954), p. 525.

5.  William G.T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1889) 2:660, footnote number 1.

6.  Robert Young, Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1977 [1889]), p. 153.

7.  The book of Acts describes Jesus second bodily coming as something very different than His coming in judgment upon Jerusalem. “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into Heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up for you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven’” (Ac. 1: 9-11). The phrase “in like manner” (NKJV) means literally “in what manner” or “in that manner in which” (see C.F.D. Moule, An Idiom-Book of New Testament Greek, 2nd ed. [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1960], p. 132.) In other words “in like manner” means ” in the same manner”. “The Greek phrase (hon tropon) never indicates mere certainty or vague resemblance; but wherever it occurs in the New Testament, denotes identity of mode or manner” (J.A. Alexander, Acts of the Apostles[Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth, 1963 (1857)], p. 16). Note that “in like manner” and “as you saw Him” are essentially expressions of the same idea twice. “The fact of his [bodily] second coming and the manner of it are also described by this emphatic repetition” (A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures In the New Testament [Grand Rapids: Baker, n.d. (1930)], 3:12). God wants to make sure that the church gets the doctrine of the second coming right.

Now, let us compare the description of the second coming in Acts 1: 9-11 to the coming in judgment that occurred in A.D. 70. (1) Acts teaches that Christ’s return will be bodily. He left in the same body in which He lived, was crucified, buried and resurrected. He ascended in His glorified human body and He will descend in the same body. Did Jesus return in His glorified physical body in A.D. 70? No, he most certainly did not. In Matthew 24 we are specifically told that the judgment upon Jerusalem is ” the sign of the Son of Man in the heaven” (Mt. 24:30 (Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible). In other words, Christ judges Jerusalem from His throne in heaven. There is no bodily descent. (2) The account in Acts describes a non-literal, non-bodily coming. The coming on the clouds terminology of Matthew 24:30 is taken from Daniel 7:13 which describes our Lord’s ascension up into heaven to the right hand of power and the poetic metaphor language of the Old Testament prophets (e.g., Isa. 19:1; Nah. 1:3). In the Old Testament Jehovah did not literally come upon heathen nations riding on the clouds. Acts 1: 9-11 however, teaches that just like the apostles people will be able see Jesus’ body. (3) The account in Acts emphasizes the fact that our Lord’s ascension was visible. Thus “in the same manner” His second coming will be visible. That is, His resurrected body will be on display. In the judgment on Jerusalem Christ wasinvisible. He was not on display, because He was at the right hand of God in heaven. When Matthew 24:30 says that all the tribes of the land “will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven” it is speaking of the fact that that generation will witness the judgment of Christ personally, not that they will literally see Jesus’ descending body. (4) The account in Acts teaches that Jesus’ second bodily coming will involve a literal descent from heaven. He will come in a vertical descent from heaven to earth. The account of our Lord’s coming in judgment does not describe vertical motion but horizontal; “as lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west” (Mt. 24:27). The difference between Acts 1:9-11 and Matthew 24:27 is very easy to account for because they are describing two completely separate and different events. In one, Jesus literally descends in His glorified and spiritual body to earth. In the other Christ never leaves heaven but judges apostate Israel. His coming is figurative. The coming from east to west describes the massive Roman armies moving across the land from the east to the west. Anyone willing to study the Scriptures who is not spiritually blind can see the hyper-preterism is heretical nonsense.

8.  Edward J. Young, Daniel (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1972 [1949]), p. 256

9.  William Hendriksen, The Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1973), p. 472.

10.  R.C.H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel (Minneapolis, Minn.: Augsburg, 1961 [1943]), p. 411.

11.  William Hendriksen, The Gospel of Matthew, p. 472

12.  Hyper-preterism is a dangerous heresy because it not only is an implicit denial of Christ’s bodily resurrection; it also leads to the redefinition and perversion of several important doctrines. (1) The bodily resurrection is rejected by a forced redefinition of 1 Cor. 15 and other passages. Thus, it is taught that Jesus doesn’t save the whole man but only an aspect of man. (2) The literal, bodily second coming of Christ is rejected in favor of a coming in judgment upon Jerusalem. (3) The final, universal, public judgment is rejected (the capstone of our Lords’ exaltation) in favor of a partial judgment in A.D. 70 or progressive judgments at death. (4) The glorification of the saints on the final day is rejected. (5) The rapture of the saints on the last day is rejected. (6) The complete restoration of the earth and turning back of the fall at Jesus’ second coming is rejected. Hyper-preterists severely limit the impact of our Lord’s resurrection and glorification. (7) The wicked are not publicly condemned and cast into the lake of fire. (8) There is no public vindication of Christ and the persecuted saints. (9) There is never a time in history when the salvation achieved by Jesus (which is definitive, progressive and final) is brought to completion. What is particularly dangerous regarding this heresy is that hyper-preterists will claim to believe in most or all of these doctrines, but, like modernists, they completely redefine them giving them a meaning that not only violates standard procedures of interpretation, but contradicts all the creeds and confessions of every branch of the Christian church throughout history. Beware of false prophets; their doctrine can devour you.

13.  Hyper-preterists often will argue that the great white throne judgment of Revelation is a figurative way of describing progressive judgments throughout history. The passage, however, emphasizes that all the dead from every place are summoned before Him: “all the dead in Hades”, “all the dead in the sea”, “anyone not found in the Book of Life”. Ignoring the plain meaning of the text hyper-preterists will repeat the mantra, “the time indicators.” The time indicators of Revelation are not as specific as those which frame Matthew 23:36 to 24:34. In Matthew Jesus repeatedly says “all these things”. The “all these things” refers to what precedes verse 34. In Revelation it simply says “the things which must shortly take place.” The fact that Christ points the church to the final victory at the end of history does not violate the time indicators. The bulk of the prophecy deals with events that must shortly take place.

14.  Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), p. 219.

15.  D. M. Lloyd-Jones, Expository Sermons on 2 Peter (Carlisle, Pa: Banner of Truth, 1983), pp. 193-194.

16.  This author is aware that some orthodox (i.e., partial) preterists apply 2 Peter 10ff to the destruction of Israel in A.D. 70. Although this interpretation is possible, there are a number of reasons why it is unlikely. First, it is probable that 2 Peter is written to Christians throughout Asia Minor (cf. 2 Pet. 3:1; 1 Pet. 1:1). Why, we ask, should believers in Asia Minor (whether Jewish believers or a Gentile-Jewish mix) live in sober fear because the Romans are going to march into Judea and kill their persecutors. Second, (as noted) Peter contrasts the destruction of the world (kosmos) by water with its coming destruction by fire. If the apostle were discussing a localized event (i.e., Judea only) this comparison would be unlikely. Third, Peter mentions scoffers that will arise that will challenge the coming of Christ because of its lengthy delay (3:3). Given the fact that 2 Peter was written around A.D. 67-68 this warning would be unlikely for an event only a few years away. Fourth, when discussing Christ’s delayed coming, Peter gives the following reason: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (3:9). Why would the Lord delay His destruction of Jerusalem in order for the elect in Asia Minor to come to Jesus? If Peter is talking about our Lord’s bodily coming at the end of history such a delay makes perfect sense. Fifth, Peter’s statement that “the heavens and the earth…are reserved for fire until the day of judgment” uses a phrase almost identical to Jude 6 (“And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains for the judgment of the great day”). All orthodox theologians and commentators apply Jude 6 to the final judgment. Sixth, after describing catastrophic events that are a prelude to the creation of a perfectly redeemed world (cf. Rom. 8:19-22) Peter states in unequivocal terms that righteousness dwells in the new heavens and the new earth (3:13). The eschatological expectation of this state of righteousness indicates that Peter is describing not simply the existence of believers and the church as it now exists in a corrupt world but something beyond that. The present world order which has sin, corruption, evil, suffering and fleshly desires will be eliminated and replaced by a glorified earth “in which righteousness dwells.” Peter describes the final great redemptive benefit of our Lord’s resurrection power. The destruction of Jerusalem was the completion of the covenant transfer to the Church and was important in the history of redemption. It, however, cannot account for the eschatological expectation of 2 Peter 3:13.

But, some will ask, “What about Isaiah 65:17 and 66:22? Don’t these passages speak of what occurred at our Lord’s first advent when He definitively made a new heavens and a new earth by His redemption?” Indeed they do. Isaiah 66:22 even applies to the passing away of the old Israel and the formation of the church, the true Israel of God (cf. Eph. 2:13-22; 3:6, 10). One must keep in mind, however, that our Lord’s recreation of all things is definitive, progressive and final. Peter, in 2 Peter 3, speaks to the completion of this process. He is discussing the “not yet.” His use of the phraseology of Isaiah is not inconsistent with the prophets’ teaching when understood in its theological context.

17.  Charles Hodge, I and II Corinthians (Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth, 1974 [1857]), p.327.

18.  Wilhelmus à Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service (Morgan, Pa.: Soli Deo Gloria, 1995), 4:345.

19.  A passage of Scripture that teaches that genuine believers will not experience shame at Christ’s coming is 1 John 2:28. “And now little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” “Believers do not turn in shame from Christ for they know that their sins have been forgiven. They are free from shame. But those who have pretended to be Christians cannot stand in the revealing light of his coming. They cannot hide their shame” (Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1986], p. 288).

20.  See C. H. Spurgeon, “Coming Judgment of the Secrets of Men” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit: Sermons Preached and Revised in 1885 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1971 [1886]), 31:380.

21.  Ibid., 31:381.

22.  The universality and public nature of the judgment is implied in the passages where Jesus teaches that generations of people who have been dead for centuries will be present at the last judgment to receive a lighter sentence and even stand as examples against the generation living in Jesus’ day. “But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you….it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you” (Mt. 11:23-24). “The men of Nineveh will rise up in judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here” (Mt. 12:41). These passages render the idea that the final judgment passages only refer to a person’s judgment at death is impossible, for whole generations from different eras and locations rise up together and are judged together on the same day–the day of judgment.

 

Biblical Authority and Christian Orthodoxy by Rev. Andrew Sandlin

It is a mistake often made by the sincere but naive to us know that affirmation of formal Biblical authority (presupposing the Bible’s inspiration and infallibility) guarantees right belief. To this way of thinking, right belief about the Bible equals right Biblical belief. Few theological assumptions could be more mistaken. Nonetheless, this was the very cry of the so-called radical reformers, and eventually the Unitarians and other antitrinitarians [1], who wanted to pass their heresy off as a valid on the grounds of the reformers’ clarion call of sola scripture. It was far from the reformers’ minds, however, to overturn ancient Catholic orthodoxy enshrined in the ecumenical creeds [2]. They were convinced that medieval accretions to Catholic orthodoxy polluted a vibrant Biblical Faith. To them, “Scripture alone” meant “No human authority — including the church — competes with Scripture.” It did not mean, “Lets summarily overthrow historic Christianity by a 16th-century recovery of primal Christianity in terms of an historically unconditioned reading of the Bible.” They were convinced — and they were right, that the Bible requires, by explication and implication – historic, Orthodox Christianity.

Where Protestants and Roman Catholics Agree

While the error of much of post-Tridentine Roman Catholicism is to subordinate the Scripture to the Roman sector of the church (which is in no way identical to the church catholic[3]), the error of many modern Protestants is nonchalantly to cast aside historic Christianity in favor of heretical innovations. Of course, Roman Catholics anathematize Protestants on the grounds that the latter denied the true Faith by denying the church, just as Protestants anathematize Roman Catholics on the grounds that the latter denied the true Faith by denying the Bible. the fact is, while there are clear differences between the two sectors of the church which it would be a grave error to paper over (as, unfortunately, some modern evangelicals to try to do), historic Protestants and historic Roman Catholics have one thing in common that neither modernistic Roman Catholics nor modernistic Protestants do –orthodoxy. Historic Protestants share with historic Roman Catholics what they cannot share with modernistic Protestants; and historic Roman Catholics share with historic Protestants what they cannot share with modernistic Roman Catholics – orthodoxy. Beyond no catholic orthodoxy — for instance, on the precise nature of sin, salvation, and the church — they vigorously disagree. But such a vigorous a disagreement between us historic Protestants and historic Roman Catholics is far preferable to the vigorous disagreement of each of us with modernists and cultists who deny such orthodox tenets as original sin; the Trinity; the dual natures of Christ; his virgin birth, vicarious atonement, bodily resurrection, and bodily second Advent; the physical resurrection at the end of human history and so forth.

Liberal Protestantism and Orthodoxy

Contemporary mainline Protestantism is almost wholly given over to this denial, characteristic of modernism or liberalism [4]. As Gresham Machen demonstrated in 1923 [5], liberalism is not an extension of or improvement on — or even a deformation of — historic Biblical Christianity; rather, it is another religion altogether. It assaults the Faith at its very heart — it’s supernatural claims — and treats Christianity as a wax nose it can reshape at whim to conform to the modern temper. If influenced by process philosophy, liberals disavow the “static, Greek” conception of God assertedly expressed in the early Christian creeds, opting rather for a “dynamic” view of God, that is, one who exists within and changes along with the world in human history. If influenced by historicists, liberals deny any transcultural doctrinal orthodoxy, holding that all dogmatic and theological formulation (conspicuously excepting their own) is historically and culturally relative: to them, doctrinal truth cannot exist in history. If liberals are radical feminists, the creeds represent a false patriarchal (maybe misogynistic) God whom the modern “enlightened” world simply cannot abide. If advocates of Unitarian is in, liberals jettison the miraculous element of the Faith — which is to say, they deny the Faith. Liberalism (like cultism) is the antithesis of Christian orthodoxy.

The Inescapability of Orthodoxy

Orthodoxy is a “given,” an inescapable axiom, a “that without which it is not possible.” As Gerhard Ebeling (not himself orthodox), notes:

[T]he conviction of the preacher which causes him to take the biblical text in hand, that is, that God’s word is present and perceptible there, is also transmitted to him historically, specifically through the Christian church in whose tradition he stands. To this tradition he owes not only the transmission of the text as such but also the transmission of the claim of the Bible to unique authority. No matter how much the preacher may have made the acknowledgement of this claim his own, the very fact that this is so and that he steps forth as a preacher betrays his attachment to the tradition of church history. He is baptized in the context of Christian baptism, and instructed in the context of Christian instruction, and called his office in the context of the tradition of church vocation. [6]

Christians of any vocation, not just ministers, do not appear in a historical vacuum, but our envelope and a Christian context. It even liberal and other heterodox churches retain Christian symbols and language (albeit disingenuously and hypocritically) because they cannot escape the effects of orthodoxy no matter how hard they may try. For this reason, heretics must presume orthodoxy in order to deny it, just as atheists must presume God in order to deny him.

Orthodoxy and Historical Continuity

The modern temper, however, deeply resents the constraints orthodoxy poses to human imagination. Trinitarian and Christological orthodoxy hammered out in the patristic era was necessary in part because men who professed to believe the Bible could not make certain Biblical statements about God and Christ to conform to human reason. In the main, orthodoxy tries to preserve in summary form the Biblical evidence about the nature of God without reconciling it to the bar of autonomous human reason. Thus in the Chalcedonian Creed we learned that Jesus is God of very God and Man of the very man, even though that is repugnant human reason — the Bible, not human reason, is the final authority. Orthodoxy is Christianity’s built-in prevention to autonomous man’s attempts to reshape the meaning of the Bible under the pressures of historical change. That is, orthodoxy is a mechanism of theological, ecclesiastical, and practical continuity. Dismissal or a version to the creeds of the church erodes this continuity and thus of the Faith itself.

Where Liberals and Too Many Conservatives Agree

Oddly, this is a dismissal and aversion both liberals and all too many conservatives commit. Modern liberalism’s mad rush to preserve the “relevance” of Scripture and conform it modernity finds the Christian creeds constricting. But no last do many modern conservatives. An inherited orthodoxy requiring some sophistication to grasp and preventing a theologically democratic free-for-all borders many conservatives who erroneously think that Sola Scriptura means the right of every man to decide which he wants the Bible to mean to him (the infamous home Bible study refrain: “Dearie, and that verse or what is God saying to you?”). Hatch states of the heritage of this way of thinking in our own country:

The first Americans to underscore the right of private judgment and handling the Scriptures were, oddly enough, ministers who opposed the evangelical tenets of the First Great Awakening…. [T] heological liberals became increasingly restive with strict creedal definitions of Christianity…. Well into the 19th century, rational Christians, many of whom swelled the ranks of denominations such as the Unitarians and the Universalists, argued against evangelical orthodoxy by appealing to the Bible…. Charles Beecher Lymdefended his rejection of his father Lyman’s orthodoxy by renouncing “create-power” and raising the banner of “the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible.” [7]

This certainly must sound strange to the ears of modern evangelicals and fundamentalists. They are accustomed to hearing that the creeds are “Catholic” (and therefore bad), and that believing the Bible alone issuers of the right believe apart from recourse to the Christian Faith. Of course, it is never the Bible alone they believe, despite their assumptions and protests, because they bring to the Bible certain presuppositions about the Faith and life that shape their understanding of the Bible. A “Bible-only” slogan which avoids historic Christianity is a convenient way to insulate themselves from the evidence of their own misguided presuppositions. The validity of Christian orthodoxy is a much safer presupposition to bring to the Bible study than the dismissal of that orthodoxy — and therefore the substitution of a new, private, and usually therefore perverse, orthodoxy.

Theological Antinomianism

It was precisely the creed-damning, Bible-only clergy and America’s 19th-century that abetted the erosion of the Christian Faith and therefore Christian culture [8]. They are ostensible preference for “the Bible alone” and dogmatic formulation actually meant, “the Bible interpreted according to my autonomous, rebellious presuppositions.” It is in this sense that modernists are no less than full than the most ecclesiocentric Romanists and Eastern Orthodox — while the latter to prefer the autonomy of the institutional church, the first prefers of the autonomy of the individual mind (or emotions). Just as “part-felt” conservative revivalism abets a “heartfelt” liberal conquest (because the locus of truth is transferred from object of Scripture in confessional orthodoxy to the subjective human imagination or emotion) [9], so a creedless conservatism lays the foundation for a heretical liberalism or cultism (because the structured historical dogma designed to delimit Christian belief is abandoned in favor of “individual freedom,” meaning theological antinomianism). Alternatively, when the Protestants accented the individual priesthood a believers, they meant that biblical understanding is not mediated by the Roman magisterial him; they did not mean that individual Christians could overthrow the Faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3).

Modern Heresy

Today new heresies (actually old heresies and modern clothing)crop up it even within the bosom of the Orthodox Faith. There are the “evangelical” opponents of Christ’s eternal Sonship, the “consistent” (read: heretical) preterists who deny the physical resurrection and Christ’s physical Advent, fundamentalists for whom the humanity of Christ is repugnant and embarrassing, noted “conservative” theologians who question God’s omniscience (since it supposedly conflicts with human “freedom”), Pentecostals to duplicate the modalist heresy (God exists not in three persons, but three “modes”), and assorted other varieties. Virtually every one issues from a theological hothouse isolated — and intentionally so — from historic Christian orthodoxy. Every one posits an antinomian dogma under the innocent-sounding guise of being faithful to the Bible.

Twin Truths: Scripture and Orthodoxy

In bold contrast, we must at times simultaneously affirm twin truths: the Bible is the inspired and infallible word of the living God, the only ultimately objective rule of faith and practice; the Bible, not the individual, church, or dogma is infallibly authoritative. But, the God who inspired the Bible is the all-conditioning covenantal God who oversees the preservation of the correct understanding of the cardinal elements of his word in history by means of catholic elements of his word in history by means of catholic orthodoxy. [10]

We must at all costs honor the Bible, God’s infallible word.

But it is not honoring to the Bible as God’s infallible word to dishonor Christian orthodoxy.


[1] Jaroslav Pelikan, Reformation of Church and Dogma (Chicgo and London, 1984), 323-331 Go Back

[2] idem, Obedient Rebels (New York and Evanston, 1964) Go Back

[3] Eugene Oseterhaven, The Spirit of the Reformed Tradition (Grand Rapids, 1971), 40 Go Back

[4] William Ro. Hutchison, The Modernist Impulse in American Protestatnism (Cambridge, 1975) Go Back

[5] J. Gresham Machan, Christianity and Liberalism (Grand Rapids, 1923) Go Back

[6] Gerhard Ebeling, The Problem Historicity (Philadelphia, 1967). 9, 10 Go Back

[7] Nathan Hatch, Sola Scripture and Novus Ordo Seclorum,” in Nathan Hatch and Mark Noll, ed., The Bible in America: Essays in Cultural History (New York, 1982), 62, 63. Go Back

[8] On the social efforts of creedal orthodoxy, see Rousas John Rushdoony, Founations of Social Order (Fairfax, VA [1968], 1978). Go Back

[9] Peter J. Leithart, “Revivalism and American Protestantism,” Christianity and Civilization: The Reconstruction of the Church, No. 4, 1985, 51 f. Go Back

[10] This is the position of Charles Hodge, Systemic Theology (Grand Rapids, 1981), 1:114, 115.Go Back

 

Against Hymenæan Hymenaeanism: The Charity of Intolerance by Andrew Sandlin

Against HymenæanHymenaeanism: The Charity of Intolerance
by Andrew Sandlin

To charge as uncharitable those who expose, reprimand, and anathematize assaults on orthodoxy (we call these assaults heterodoxy or heresy) is to get things just backwards.Toleration of heresy is uncharitable, because it places antinomian sentiment above genuine concern for believers. Genuine charity is manifested in the desire to see Christians aspire to a deeper worship of God and adhere more closely to the law of God. Heresy, however, greatly detracts from worship and obedience. If unchecked, it leads straight to their opposites, sacrilege and disobedience, which ensure divine judgment. Therefore, to tolerate heresy under the guise of charity for the brethren is really to refuse to confront sins that culminate in divine judgment on the sacrilege and disobedience which heresy inevitably produces. This is not charity for the brethren, but perhaps its opposite.

The July, 1997 issue of the Chalcedon Report exposed and refuted the Hymenaean or so-called “full preterist” view. In varying degrees, this heresy denies the future physical Advent of Christ, the future final judgment, and the future physical resurrection of the just and unjust. It is unarguably beyond the pale of orthodox Christianity, and its adherents do not profess continuity with orthodoxy Christianity at these vital points. In this admission we appreciate their honesty.

Several figures prominently identified with the Christian Reconstruction Movement have been seduced by this eschatological heterodoxy. It has come to light that some others, while not embracing it, have developed a tolerance for it and firmly dissent from those of us who have exposed this pernicious assault on cardinal tenets of the Christian Faith.

In the past, the Christian Reconstruction Movement was torn by strife largely generated by personality conflicts and comparatively secondary doctrinal issues. The assertion by misguided friends or sniping critics that the present dispute is nothing more than characteristically acerbic Reconstructionists “not getting along again” instances a dangerous ignorance of the centrality of Christian orthodoxy to this movement. (I draw your attention to Rushdoony’s masterly Foundations of Social Order.)

Regrettably, the present heresy springs from a particular historical antecedent.

In a letter under date of July 8. 1981, a young Christian Reconstructionist wrote to Rushdoony of a new cadre of writers:

We are innovative. Traditionalism has not retarded our movement in the past, nor shall it retard it in the future…. To be quite frank, some of the younger men in the movement are ready to make some fundamental innovations in the existing theonomy framework. No movement stays in the same mold forever. ______, ______, ______ and I are going to make our own independent innovations…. That’s what progress in theology is all about. Young men innovate.

Unfortunately, this youthful theological innovation included, in at least one case, the published repudiation of the Protestant doctrine of justification by faith alone (never retracted), and, in several other cases, the adoption of the Hymenaean heresy. Energetic young men often not sufficiently grounded in ancient catholic orthodoxy are impatient with traditional formulations and conclude their fascination with theological innovation by reinventing the dogmatic wheel;and it is often a heterodox wheel at that.

To be sure, no one who carefully examines church history denies the fact of doctrinal development and theological progress (though, to be sure, not all development is progress); and we postmillennialists have a vested interest is supporting theological progress and creativity. This theological progress and creativity must occur within the strictures of orthodox Christianity, however, or it subverts the Faith. This fearful event has erupted right within our movement, among the “innovators.” We have a name for innovation unencumbered by orthodoxy: heresy.

Recently a prominent Christian Reconstructionist chastised those of us forthrightly exposing this deviation from orthodox Christianity. He stated:

I am not a full preterist. Having said this, I am not at all impressed by the way critics of full preterism are arguing their case. I have challenged full preterists to present solid exegesis to support their position. They in turn laugh at attempts to refute full preterism by an appeal to the creeds and name calling. I’ve read some of the vitriolic language spewed at full preterists and it reminds of the way critics of theonomy treated ______. My new slogan is: “Show me the text!”

To this I rejoined:

Am I to presume from this that you do not believe that it suffices to posit Christian orthodoxy as a barrier to heresy, or that a historically unconditioned exegesis and therefore orthodoxy of some sort is an inevitability?

Do you consider the repudiation of a prime tenet Nicene orthodoxy a matter for exegetical discussion? Would you say the same of the rest of Nicene orthodoxy?

Let me put it another way: on what grounds would you oppose a case for antitrinitarianism ostensibly committed to the slogan “Show me the text!” (This is precisely how many patristic heretics argued.) Would you respond thus?:

“I am not an antitrinitarian. Having said this, I am not at all impressed by the way critics of antitrinitarianism are arguing their case. I have challenged antitrinitarians to present solid exegesis to support their position. They in turn laugh at attempts to refute antitrinitarianism by an appeal to the creeds and name calling. I’ve read some of the vitriolic language spewed at antitrinitarians and it reminds [me] of the way critics of theonomy treated ______. My new slogan is: ‘Show me the text!’”

To this man’s accusation that we orthodox uncompromisingly rely on appeal to the Christian creeds rather than on careful exegesis, I responded:

You criticize the Hymenaeans’ confessional critics for insufficient exegesis. Whose exegesis would you prefer? I could proffer exegesis of orthodox Christians for the last 1800 years. It is not a question of a void of exegesis but of pitting a peculiarly modern and heterodox exegesis against the exegesis of the last 1800 years. Mark it down: every assault on Christian orthodoxy (like Hymenaeanism) by an appeal to a supposedly unconditioned modern exegesis does not pit the Bible against the creeds, but a warped, modern understanding of the Bible against an understanding of the Bible over the last 1800 on a points critical to the Faith.

Let us not delude ourselves into thinking that avoiding these facts is being faithful to the dictum of sola scriptura.

It is not.

We urge all our friends and supporters to stand fast in their affirmation of orthodox Christianity, including the future physical Advent of Christ, the future final judgment, and the future physical resurrection of the just and unjust. And I want to make clear that we do not implicate mild or partial preterists like Ken Gentry who have publicly repudiated the Hymenaean heresy and who stand squarely within the orthodox fold.

We at Chalcedon do not consider this Hymenaean heresy a secondary issue, nor one over which there can be “reasonable debate among friends.”

Enemies of Christian orthodoxy are not our friends.

The great calling of Christian Reconstructionists in this hour includes reaffirmation of historic Christianity; a revitalization of creative theological development within the bounds of Reformed orthodoxy; a re-commitment to unity and charity among the many faithful; a recovery of the Reformed doctrine of the covenant and a relentless exploration of all of its implications; a recognition of the centrality of ideas and potent intellectual forces in the battle against the pervasive evils of our time; a revival of proper individual, family, church, school, vocational, artistic, scientific, and civil governments; in that order; and a renaissance of full-orbed, patriarchal Christianity committed to subordinating every area of modern life to Christ and his law, found in the Bible.

To do less is to abdicate our calling.