—– Original Message —–Sent: Friday, July 24, 2009 6:04 PMSubject: Q&A
Hi Don,I was reading a few questions posted on the Planet Preterist forum today and wanted to run the question and response this fellow got. When you have some available time… could you provide any thoughts on this?Question – Did the church (as it is described in the NT) come to an end in 70AD?
Answer – Yes, the “church” and the “kingdom” definitely ended at the parousia and there is no direct relevance to Christianity after that time.Response: This claim flies in the face of multitudinous OT and NT statements that the kingdom, established in the days of the Roman empire, would never end. What does never end mean, if it was only to last for 40 years? This kind of claim makes a mockery of language.One has but to read Isaiah 9:6-9– where the prophet said “of the increase of his government (this is through evangelism!!) there will be no end”Daniel 2:44; 7:13f– speaking of the establishment of that kingdom says it would never pass away, and never be destroyed. This in direct contrast to the Old Covenant kingdom that would pass away (Daniel 12:2-7).While a great deal more could be said about this, take note of Revelation 21-22. The claim that the church / kingdom passed away and ended, thus having no relevance today, is a virtual denial of the description of the bride– the church– found in Revelation.Note that the bride comes down from God out of heaven. It does not leave the earth, and it is not destroyed!Note that the gates of the city are open and the nations flow into it– just as foretold by the OT prophets. This is evangelism among men, just as Ezekiel 37:26f foretold. This is not the end of the church, or the kingdom, it is the full establishment.
Here are just a few of the many passages which state this fact as clearly as any of the “time statements” put the parousia in the past:
“For I don’t want you, brethren, to be uninformed … a partial hardening has happened TO ISRAEL until THE FULL NUMBER OF GENTILES HAS COME IN, and so THE WHOLE ISRAEL WILL BE SAVED … ” (Romans 11:25-27)
This passage plainly states that there would be no Jews or Gentiles left to be saved or to “come in” to the Kingdom after the parousia. The words “full number” (or “fulness”) and “whole” (or “all”) mean that there is no one from any nation left to be saved or added after the parousia.Response: The text says no such thing as is being claimed. Part of the problem is that objector is relying on a mistranslation. The word “number” is not in the text, nor is it implied or demanded.Now consider something that we just noted: Isaiah said (and Revelation confirms), that there will be no end of evangelism in the kingdom. However, if one imposes the “full number” concept on Romans 11, then this flatly contradicts these prophecies, for it would say that there is indeed a full, definite number that was to be saved, and after that, no one else would be saved! This is simply false. See my discussion of the fulness of the Gentiles in my Who Is This Babylon book. The fulness of the Gentiles was the bringing in of the Gentiles into full equality with the Jews, in Christ, and that was Paul’s personal responsibility (Colossians 1:24-27). So, the fulness of the Gentiles was not numerical, it was status and standing.
“But each in his own order; Christ was first, and after that are those who belong to Christ AT HIS PAROUSIA, at that time is THE END … so that God may be ALL IN ALL” (1 Corinthians 15;23-28).
This passage plainly uses the word “end” to identify the time of the “parousia” as the point where God became “all in all”. This is the strongest way Paul could have emphasized that there was nobody left to be saved after the parousia. This means that there were no more elect to populate the Kingdom after that.Response: Again, this is pure presuppositional, and the claim is not found in the text. Notice what is being assumed:A.) That the end is the end of the church / kingdom! However, if one stays with the flow of the text, the end in few is the end of “the law” that was the strength of sin (v. 55-56). It is the end of the Old Covenant age, just as Daniel 12:2-7 said that the resurrection would be when the power of the holy people was destroyed. It is not the end of that which Jesus died to establish, the everlasting kingdom (Rev. 11:15f).B.) Scriptures are clear that Christ’s parousia would be at the end of the Old Covenant age (Matthew 24:2-3; 29-34). Not at the end of the New Covenant age.C.) The statement of God being “all in all” hearkens back to Zechariah 14, which is undeniably posited in the context of the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the Old Covenant age, and the full establishment of the kingdom on earth when men would worship and serve the Lord.
“For THE SON OF MAN IS GOING TO COME … and will RENDER TO EVERY PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS … some of those standing here will not pass away before the see the son of man COMING IN HIS KINGDOM” (Matthew 16:27-28).
This passage plainly states that “every” person was to be judged at the “parousia”. The word “every” indicates that there would be no more people or any other deeds to be saved or judged after that time. This means nobody gets into the Kingdom after that time.Response: Presuppositional claims without textual support. What the objector fails to realize is that the judgment in view has to do with the judgment of the Old Covenant world that had failed to bring righteousness, but, at the end of that system, salvation would then be offered to the nations (just as Revelation says), in the New Jerusalem.Matthew 16:27-28 is taken directly from Isaiah 40:10f; 62:9f– and both passages affirm the judgment of Old Covenant Israel, the marriage of Christ to his bride, and the sending of the good news to the gentiles! This does not support the claims of the objector in anyway.
“Seventy sevens have been decreed … to FINISH the transgression, to make THE END of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to being in permanent righteousness, TO SEAL UP VISION AND PROPHECY … ” (Daniel 9:24).
This passages plainly states that vision and prophecy would be “sealed up” at the end of the 70 sevens. The word “sealed up” means that the “books are closed” as far as any relevance or application of prophecy after that time. The words “finish” and “end” need no further explanation here either.Response: The objector makes some partially true statements, but makes the wrong application, it seems to me.The seventy weeks were determined to s
eal vision and prophecy. This means the confirmation through fulfillment of all prophecy, thus bringing the prophetic office to its close. There is no more unfulfilled prophecy today!However, to suggest that fulfilled prophecy means that there is no relevance for today is a true non-sequitur (It does not logically follow). Let me see if I can illustrate: Let’s assume that a father tells his son that when he turns 16 that the father will purchase him a car, pay his first year of insurance, and establish a college fund. So, when the boy turns 16 the father fulfills all of his promises. The boy gets a new car, the insurance is payed for a year, and his college fund is fully funded. Are we supposed to believe that the fulfillment of all of the father’s promises have no continuing relevance for that boy? Now, the promises are fulfilled, nothing is still future. Does that destroy the son’s hope, or, again, the continuing relevance of those fulfilled promises. I think it would be ludicrous to suggest such a thing.Just so, it is equally untenable to suggest that since forgiveness, eternal life, fellowship with the Father, etc. were all promises made to Israel, to be shared with the nations, that when those promises were fulfilled, that there is no relevance for those entering into those promises. Or worse, to suggest that no one can enter those promises today!Now, clearly, put an end of sin relates to Christ’s atoning work. And this means that his death is fully effacious, and when a person enters Christ through faith, then enter into that sphere where sin has been put away! This precisely what Revelation depicts, as I suggested above.Thus, the idea that just because prophecy has been fulfilled, that this means there is no relevance or application for those living post fulfillment is simply illogical, and, it fails to consider that in the OT prophets (and New), that the consummation would mean the end of the Old World, but he full establishment of the New. And it is in that New World wherein life and righteousness is found, for anyone and everyone that wishes it (“The Spirit and the Bride say Come!'”– the objector’s paradigm would suggest that Revelation should have ended with “All is done, no one can come”)!
The list goes on and on …
As a corollary here … if you can’t accept the plain sense of these biblical texts, then look around and ask yourself a few common sense questions:Response: The objector is claiming something about the “plain sense” of the texts above that is not, as we have shown, so plain, and in truth makes no sense. The claims are presuppostional and deny what the texts actually say.
1. Where has the God of the Bible been for the past 2,000 years if He still loves anyone after the Kingdom was finished?Response: The objector is once again imposing his / her presuppositional concepts on the promises. Where is Christ, where is God? Jesus said that at his parousia, the Father and he would come and dwell with the believer (John 14:1-23). This is a covenantal presence, not a bodily presence that the objector seems to be imposing. The failure to honor the nature of the parousia, the nature of the blessings of the parousia seems to be at the root of the problem, it seems to me.
2. Why has every human being (including so-called Christians) since the parousia experienced the same “pain in childbirth” and “you shall toil” and “you shall return to dust” curses (Genesis 3:16-19) that Adam and Eve had?Response: Once again, presuppositional arguments! This argument assumes that work is evil, or a curse! It assumes that physical death is the curse. None of these things is true.
3. Why do some people insist (especially $$$preachers$$$) that the “time statements” were “literal” in the New Testament, but don’t seem to take the other words like “the end” and “finish” and “complete” and “all in all” “full number” and “every” in a literal sense when these unequivocal words are also used of the same parousia?Response: What the objector is doing is two fold. They are guilty of what is known as petitio principii. That is, they are begging the question. They are assuming, without proof, that their claims about the nature of the end, the full number, all in all, and “every” are valid, without proving their case. Assuming their claims are true, they then make their argument that they have won!They make an argument against what is a false argument. If / when they demonstrate that the argument they are objecting to is false, they claim that this verifies their own paradigm. The problem is that if they are arguing against a false argument, then to demonstrate the falsity of that argument simply shows that the argument is false. It does not in fact falsify the real doctrine under consideration!
EXTRA CREDIT QUESTION: Why would God name only the “tribes of Israel and Judah” in the new covenant promise (Jeremiah 31:31-34) and then say that “ALL Israel” was saved at the parousia (Romans 11:26-27) if anything in the Bible was ever intended to apply to any other people?Response: This question betrays a woeful ignorance of what the OT promises actually promised.First of all, there is no question that the promises were made to the tribes of Israel (see John 4:22).Second, what the objector fails to honor is that when Israel received her promises, salvation would then be offered to the nations, to foreigners (In the OT, promises of being saved when the kingdom would be established are expressed as being offered to “foreigners.” In the LXX (the Septuagint), the word is allogenes, meaning “other born.” This means not of the 12 tribes. See Isaiah 49; 56, 61, etc.. So, there is no question whatsoever that when Israel’s promises were fulfilled, that “the residue of men might seek the Lord” (Amos 9:11—> Acts 15:14f). The objector is either ignorant of this, or is failing to honor it.It seems to me, if I may speculate a bit, that sometimes folks seek ways to avoid personal responsibility. To suggest that the kingdom does not exist, that the church no longer exists, that scripture and Truth are no longer relevant, certainly has the logical implications of no need for faith, no need for personal stewardship, no need for servanthood, no need for obedience. This is not the Biblical paradigm!
I hope that these few thoughts are helpful.For His Truth, and in His Grace,
Don K. Preston