I apologize for not posting more, and more often, of the many email questions that we receive. However, I wanted to share this one with our readers, becasue of its importance.
For His Truth, and In His Grace,
Subject: a question or two
Upon being spiritually tormented by the teachings of a ‘cult’ member a few years ago, I have taken it upon myself to read the Bible without commentary and have come to the conclusion that it may be possible that preterism makes a LOT of sense to me. I have been very hesitant to admit this to myself for one obvious reason: If Revelation is talking about the church in this current age, then what on earth does God have to say about Heaven. I have really done some damage to my faith lately by questioning whether heaven is real or not. Once I accepted that preterism seems so Scripturally sound (today, in fact), I really want to know what I am supposed to believe about heaven. Also, what is the beast in Revelation according to preterism?
Can you shed some light on this dilemma for me? What does God actually tell Christians about the hope of heaven?
Kim, first of all, let me thank you for contacting me. I truly do appreciate it.
I understand your struggle to accept Covenant Eschatology, It is always difficult to change our way of thinking, but, it is that open heart and open mind that God loves and rewards, It is the closed mind that refuses to think learn and accept the truth that is rejected by our Lord, because that kind of a mind will in fact reject Him!
Your question regarding question is answered by the reality that the Bible says very little about the actual description of heaven. Please do not take this to mean that the Bible does not address the reality of life after death, as some have mistakenly done. This is a horrible error, and truly destructive of faith. However, the Bible is very clear that God does intend for man to have life, eternal life (Titus 1.2), and to live with Him.
Take the time to go through the book of John, and observe the contrast between life and death. You will discover that God sent His Son to give man eternal life, a life that does not end, a life with Him. Read again the famous passage: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life." Note the contrast between perishing and life.
While the text does not go into detail about the description of that life, it is in direct contrast to perishing! Now, if, as some believe, we cease to exist, when we die, even as Christians, then do we not perish after all? Jesus said that those who believe in him "will never die" (John 8.51.) Now, I am 110% certain that you and I will die physically! Furthermore, 100% of the folks that heard Jesus say that have died! Does that mean that not one of the them believed in him? No, it shows that Jesus was not speaking of physical death, but of life with him. It is a life that physical death has no power over, that physical death cannot interrupt. This is truly life with Him!
So, what are you to believe about heaven? I wish I could give you an in-depth description, but I can’t! I can tell that heaven is in the presence of God. I can tell you that it is abundant life– the Greek word that is translated abundant is a very descriptive, powerful word. That it is life, incorruptible, meaning it does not fade away, life. I can tell you that it is rest from all of our labor. I can tell you that it is, because it is with Him, wonderful!
The Beast in Revelation was probably none other than Nero. He name calculates properly to the 666. The countdown of the kings in Revelation 17 fits the time line. And, Revelation posits a partnership of persecution between the Beast and the city Babylon, in which they persecute the church. Then, the Beast turns on the Woman, slays her, and destroys her. The one and only time under the Roman empire that this fits is under Nero. There was no such partnership under Domitian, the time when most try to date the book, and there was no such partnership at any other time in history! I develop this and a lot more in my book Who Is This Babylon, that is available from this site.
As to the possibility of losing faith due to preterism, I must confess that this is puzzling to me, if I may say so. Consider this, if you would.
The Bible tells a story and makes predictions of what would happen, and when things would happen. Only Covenant Eschatology, of all of the views of God’s scheme of Redemption, affirms that God was faithful, and kept His word on time! Premillennialism says Jesus came to establish the kingdom but could not do it.
Postmillennialism says that Jesus will one day come to put an end to the endless Christian age, but that Jesus did not come back on time.
Amillennialism says the world must just keep getting worse and worse– that the gospel will never have an impact on the world, and that Jesus did not come back when he said he would.
All three positions in one way or another denies that Jesus kept his word to return when he said he would, and that God will one day bring the Christian age– that Jesus died to establish– to an end. This struggle has haunted Christianity for centuries! But, a failed Jesus is not and cannot be Lord!
The God that I serve did not fail however. The Jesus that I love, did not fail. That Bible that tells me of His love for me and you, and that contains the predictions of his work, has been vindicated over and over. Furthermore, by realizing that he kept his word about when he would return, to establish his everlasting kingdom and rule in our hearts and lives, we truly can refute the enemies of the Cross and the Lord.
So, acceptance of preterism, when properly understood, should make our strength stronger than ever! We serve a faithful God! He has not and will never fail.
I hope that I have given you some few thoughts to ponder. Feel free to correspond further. Keep looking to Him, and trusting in the One who has not failed!
For His Truth, and in His Grace,
Don K. Preston