JACKSON-PRESTON FORMAL WRITTEN DEBATE
Once again, my friend has essentially ignored my arguments, sweeping them aside, this time by associating my claims with Hymenaeaus and Philetus, and those in Thessalonica that believed that the Day of the Lord had already come. Unfortunately for my friend, this “argument” does not help him! It presents major problems for my friend.
1.) If the Day of the Lord is what my friend says, either the rapture or the second coming, Richard needs to tell us how anyone in their right mind, could believe that the Day was already past. How could anyone believe– if the coming of the Lord is an earth burning, time ending event– that it had happened yesterday? If the rapture was what Richard believes it to be, the sudden disappearance of all the faithful, how could anyone believe it had already happened. and yet Paul– one of the most faithful, as well as themselves– was still present? Do you see the problem?
2.) The problem with Richard’s argument is that those in Thessalonica and Ephesus were all operating before the end came! Remember that Richard has agreed that the end of the age, the time of the resurrection predicted by Daniel 12, was in AD 70! So, Hymenaeaus and company all taught before the end of the age in AD 70, but they said the end had already come. Their timing was off! We today live on this side of when God said the resurrection would occur– AD 70. Thus, I am right to affirm that God kept His word, and that the end of the age, the time of the harvest, and the resurrection came “when the power of the holy people is completely shattered.”
Richard, as the old saying goes “Timing is everything.” You have taken situations that were true when they were stated, and extrapolated them to a time when they are no longer true Such anachronistic hermeneutic is detrimental to the truth.
Richard says: “There is evidence to suggest that the offered Kingdom to Israel was thus postponed early in the ministry of Christ.” I have noted repeatedly that if Richard’s postponement theory is false, that his entire negative is false, and his eschatology is likewise in error. In fact, there is no evidence that the kingdom was postponed. So, let me give a small portion of that here again.
Seventy weeks were determined to make the Atonement and put away sin.
The death of Messiah to make the Atonement and to put away sin would be after the sixty ninth week (Daniel 9:26). This is indisputable.
Therefore, the death of Messiah to make the Atonement and to put away sin was in the seventieth week. This is undeniable.
This argument totally nullifies the idea of a 2000 year gap between the sixty ninth and the seventieth week. It likewise demands that the cessation of the charismata was not delayed for 2000 years!
If there is a gap in Daniel 9, then if Jesus knew about that predetermined gap– and who would argue that he would not know? – then Jesus was patently wrong to say “the kingdom of heaven has drawn near” (Matthew 4:17). He knew the kingdom could not be near, for he knew that Daniel included a gap of so far 2000 years! The fact that Jesus said the kingdom was near proves definitively that there is no gap in the text of Daniel 9– and Richard’s theology is falsified. It is little wonder that he completely ignored this exegetical demonstration and instead simply restated the gap theory.
It was good to see Richard finally at least attempt to give a response to my material on the postponement / gap theory (with no success, however). Here is what he offered:
“The ‘cutting off’ of Messiah at the end of the 69 weeks, or after the 69 weeks does not of necessity place the crucifixion of Christ & the destruction of Jerusalem into the 70 weeks. To say as Don does, that ‘after’ automatically necessitates that the ‘cutting off’ of the Messiah would take place during the seventieth week is a grammatical fallacy. The word translated ‘after’ in Daniel 9:27 is a word that is just as easily translated to say…’when the 69 weeks are completed’.
: Would you take a look at that, please? Richard actually wrote: “The ‘cutting off’ of Messiah at the end of the 69 weeks, or after the 69 weeks does not of necessity place the crucifixion of Christ & the destruction of Jerusalem into the 70 weeks.” (My emphasis). Okay, so at the end of the 69th does not mean in the seventieth, and after the 69th does not mean in the seventieth! Richard, this is sophistry.
To exacerbate his problem, he says that the words may mean “when the 69 weeks are completed. If anything, the language here would indicate that these events precede the 70th week, and the reading audience should bear in mind that intervals of time often do divide a prophecy’s fulfillment.” (My emphasis).
Richard, if the 69 weeks are completed, as in finished, as in being over, then since the death of Jesus comes when the 69 weeks are over, finished, completed, then what comes after and when 69 is over, completed and finished? Isn’t it, 70? If not, why not?
Amazingly, Richard claims that, “If anything, the language here would indicate that these events precede the 70th week.” Really? How in the name of reason can a person construe “when the sixty nine weeks are completed” to mean “before the 69 weeks are over?” Where do you get the idea that these events precede the 70th week? Please! Give us some exegetical, logically necessary proof (not your presuppositional dispensationally necessary ideas). Incidentally, I looked on the Internet and compared a large number of translations, as well as all of them in my library (not a few). Not one of them supported Richard’s claims about the translation. Every one of them said “after.”
The text lists seven sevens and then– catch this, then the sixty two weeks. The seven weeks come first, and then the sixty two. Now, my math is not too good, but, seven plus 62 is 69 any day of the week, and it would be after the 62nd week (which follows the seven weeks!) that Messiah would be cut off! That means that the cutting off of Messiah, to make the Atonement and put away sin, would, after all, come after the 69th week. But, remember that the making of the Atonement and the putting away of sin belongs to the 70 weeks! Any way you want to slice it, or calculate it, Richard, the text says that the making of atonement and putting away of sin belongs to the seventy weeks!
I should point out also that Hebrew scholars note that the language of “make the atonement” refers to the ritualistic process of making the atonement, not the application of what was accomplished through the ritual. I document this in my book Seventy Weeks Are Determined…For the Resurrection. Here is what this means.
The making of the atonement refers to the ritual of making the atonement. The ritual of maki
ng of the atonement belongs to the seventy week countdown. Richard denies this, without a shred of evidence. His position is that Jesus’ death and ascension– part of the ritual of making the atonement– actually postponed the seventy week countdown. But wait! You must catch this….
Richard believes that Jesus’ second coming– which is the final act in fulfillment of the typological actions of the high priest in making the atonement (Hebrews 9:24-27), occurs at the climax, but within, the seventieth week! This is the dispensational view!
Thus, Richard unwittingly posits the making of the atonement within the seventy weeks, all the while claiming that the death of Jesus postponed the seventy week countdown! Richard, you cannot on the one hand claim that the making of the atonement, initiated in Jesus’ passion, does not belong to the seventieth week, and then affirm that the final act of making the atonement must belong to the seventieth week after all! That is self-contradictory to the extreme.
So, you cannot, no matter what your presuppositions, place the making of the atonement outside of the seventy weeks without denying or manipulating the text. But, since the making of the atonement and the putting away of sin indisputably belong to the seventy weeks, then:
1.) The death of Jesus did not postpone the seventy week countdown, it was part of it.
2.) The death of Jesus did not postpone the kingdom plan, it was integral to it. Jesus himself said it was necessary that Christ was to suffer and “to enter into his glory (Luke 24:25).
3.) The charismata have ended, because Christ came at the end of the seventy weeks, just as predicted, to establish the kingdom in glory!
Richard tried awfully hard, further, to support his gap theory. He says, “The full fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1&2(as quoted by Christ in the Temple)includes the whole intermission between the first coming of Christ in which the ‘gospel is preached to the poor’, & His second coming which brings the ‘Day of vengeance of our God'(luke 4:16-21).”
Response: I agree with the statement in principle. The trouble is that Richard’s 2000 year gap theory denies the emphatic time statements of the New Testament. There is no gap of 2000 years between the Acceptable Day of the Lord and the Day of Vengeance. They belonged to the same generation!
Richard has failed to understand the hermeneutic of Jesus’ day. As well attested by numerous scholars (I can give lots of documentation if Richard wishes) when a teacher cited part, any part, of a text, he was bringing that entire context to the mind of his listeners / readers. The dispensational claim that because Jesus only cited the first part of Isaiah 61 about the Acceptable Day of the Lord, that this indicated a gap of so far 2000 years is a violation of the common teaching practices of the day, This idea is a theological invention of dispensationalism. Furthermore, Richard’s argument is another falsification of his claim that the church was not predicted in the OT! Did you catch it?
Richard says that the “acceptable day of the Lord” is “the whole intermission between the first coming of Christ in which the ‘gospel is preached to the poor'”! In other words, it is the Christian age! But Richard, you claim that the church was a total mystery, unpredicted anywhere in the OT! How can you now claim that Isaiah 61 foretold the Christian age? This is a fatal admission. It surrenders one of the supporting pillars of dispensationalism. Please answer!
Richard fails to acknowledge that Jesus himself posits the fulfillment of the Day of Vengeance in his generation, and he does so in a passage that even dispensationalists agree was fulfilled in AD 70! Take a look at Luke 21:22: “For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.”
I noted earlier that even Thomas Ice admits of this text: “Those first century days are called the ‘days of vengeance’ for Jerusalem is under the divine judgment of covenantal sanctions recorded in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. Luke notes that God’s vengeance on His elect nation ‘is in order that all things that are written may be fulfilled.’ Jesus is telling the nation that God will fulfill all the curses of the Mosaic Covenant because of Israel’s disobedience. He will not relent and merely bring to pass a partial fulfillment of His vengeance. Some of the passages that Jesus says will be fulfilled include the following: Leviticus 26:27-33; Deuteronomy 28:49-63; Deuteronomy 32:19-27; 1 Kings 9:1-9; Jeremiah 6:1-6; 26:1-9; Daniel 9:26…” (Kenneth Gentry and Thomas Ice, The Great Tribulation Past or Future, A Written Debate, Grand Rapids, Kregel, 1999, 98).
Now, if AD 70 was when God fulfilled all of the Mosaic covenant sanctions and curses, and brought complete vengeance, as Ice acknowledges, then this includes Isaiah 61, for Isaiah 61 is most assuredly written within the context of the Mosaic Covenant! And this means that the coming of Christ in the Day of Vengeance– the time when the charismata would end, was at the end of the Mosaic Covenant age in AD 70!
Also, I did an extensive exegetical examination of Luke 21:22 and the meaning of “all things written” in Luke 21:22. Richard simply denied those things, not through exegesis, or solid hermeneutic, but by his appeal to his dispensational dogma. This is not good enough.
Richard’s Rejection of My Definition of Miracles
Richard’s objections to my definition of a Biblical miracle are false objections easily refuted. He claimed: “Don’s definition of miracle has several problems. Biblical demonstrations of Divine power were not always instantaneous(Mk.8:24), they were not always for dramatic demonstration, but simply a Divine expression of compassion(Matt 8:2-4), they could often be denied(Lk 16:31), & though perhaps perfectly given, they were not perfectly received by imperfect humans(1 Cor. 12:1).”
If Richard wishes to take up this objection further– as if it would actually help his case– then he can pursue this, and I will respond. At this juncture, I do not feel that it needs to be addressed at length.
THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH
As I noted in my second affirmative, it is imperative that the reader understand the dispensational paradigm. Richard claims that “his rejection & withdrawal of the offered Kingdom prepared the way for the establishment of an entirely new, unheralded, & unexpected mystery program.” He then says, “This formulation of the church…made up of both Jew & Gentile…to form ‘the body of Christ’, the church, is spoken as a ‘mystery’, & declared by apostolic authority as something not previously revealed, & was therefore unknown, but now has been revealed.” Let me be candid: there is not a word of truth in these claims!
It was not the church itself that was spoken of as the mystery. The “mystery” aspect was Jew and Gentile equality in Christ. And even this aspect of the mystery was foretold, but not understood by the prophets who predicted it. Notice Paul’s words: “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but
now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith–– to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen” (Romans 16:25-26).
Now ask yourself this question: How could Paul preach the mystery of the church– from the prophetic scriptures– if those prophetic scriptures did not speak of the church? And keep in mind that Paul said that his gospel was nothing other than, nothing different from that found in Moses and the prophets (Acts 24:14f). Thus, the prophetic scriptures that Paul said were his source for preaching the gospel of the mystery of Christ was the Old Testament! And yet, Richard wants to tell us that the OT never predicted the church or the church age!
In Ephesians 3:1-6 Paul defines the mystery: “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles––if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel.”
Note that Paul said that the mystery was “not made known to the sons of men “as it has now been revealed.” Notice the “as.” He did not say that the mystery had never been predicted! He said it had not been revealed like it was being revealed through his ministry! Furthermore, notice that he specifically defines the mystery, not as the church being unpredicted, but, he defines the mystery as “that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the Gospel.” The mystery was Jew and Gentile equality, not the existence of the church!
Let me drive this home. In Psalms 110:1, the Lord said, “Sit at my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” Now catch this. Psalms 110:1 is cited, quoted, alluded to 32 times in the NT as being fulfilled in Christ reigning over the church! Peter, on the day of Pentecost when the church was established, cited Psalms 110 as fulfilled, and because it was fulfilled, “He has shed forth this which you see and hear…” So, here is the argument.
Psalms 110 predicted the enthronement of Messiah at the right hand of the Father.
Peter (and the other NT writers) says Psalms 110 was, in the first century (not a yet future event), fulfilled in Christ and the church.
Therefore, Psalms 110 predicted the first century reign (not a yet future event) of Christ and the church!
Not one NT passage posits the fulfillment of Psalms 110 for the future! All 32 citations say Psalms 110 was being fulfilled in Christ’s reign over the church! This indisputable fact falsifies my friend’s gap / postponement theory for it says that God’s plan was right on time! It falsifies his claim that the church was not predicted in the OT. And, this likewise falsifies his claims concerning the charismata.
Richard, since Psalms 110 was being fulfilled in the first century, in Christ and the church, then the church was not an unforeseen, unpredicted mystery. The church was not an interim measure established due to Israel’s rejection of the kingdom offer. The church was the fulfillment of God’s kingdom plan!
Note also that Richard actually admits that the OT did predict the church. Yes, he does. Read this carefully: “Much of what Mr. Preston says is certainly true, such as the symbolic nature of the first Covenant was in many ways only representative of that true worship of the Father now offered up through the church.” My friend, if the first covenant was symbolic of the blessings of the church and the gospel, then it is irrefutably true that the OT predicted the church! If the OT symbolized the church, then it predicted the church!
I must address some claims by Richard. He wrote: “The mosaic covenant effectively ended at the rejection, crucifixion & resurrection of Christ(Rom. 10:4). Israel at this time was set aside because of blindness of heart(Rom. 11).
: No, Richard, the Mosaic Covenant did not pass away at the Cross. The Hebrews writer said that the Old Covenant– note, the Covenant, not just an external form of the Covenant, was ready, when he wrote, to vanish away. Note Ice’s comments that the fulfillment of Mosaic Covenant wrath was fulfilled in AD 70. Well, if Covenant Wrath was applied, then the Covenant was still in effect!
You don’t apply covenant wrath if the covenant is no longer binding!
Furthermore, in Paul’s famous allegory in Galatians, the two women and two sons represent two covenants and two people. Due to persecution of Christians, the spiritual seed, (which clearly did not take place before the Cross), Paul said, “Cast out the bondwoman and her son.” Now remember, it is not just the people, but the covenant. So, note the argument:
The Old Covenant and the Old Covenant people would be cast out for persecuting the New Covenant seed of promise i.e. Christians.
The Old Covenant people did not persecute Christians prior to the Cross (e.g. the New Covenant people of promise did not yet exist!).
Therefore, the Old Covenant people, and the Old Covenant, was not cast out at the Cross.
Paul is emphatic that the casting out of the Old Covenant and the Old Covenant people was yet future to him, not something of the past. Thus, Richard’s claim is false.
Richard then says: “The New Covenant originally made with & promised to Israel (Jer. 31:31-37) will have a future application with those to whom it was made(for God’s word cannot be broken)…but for now many of the blessing of this New Covenant is opened unto all who believe. The church participates in the ‘root & fatness’ of the olive tree, which is Abraham & Israel(Rom.11). If Mr. Preston wishes to know how Gentile believer’s since the first coming of Christ partake of a Covenant not made with them…I answer that while the New Covenant was not made with anyone except Israel, the blessings of which it speaks can be ‘ministered’ to us(Eph. 3:1-6).”
: Well, yes, Richard, I (and others I am sure) do want to know how the promised Covenant (Of Jeremiah 31), that has not yet been made with Israel, could in any way be currently blessing the church, to whom the promise– per dispensationalism– was never made! Take a look at the problem:
The promises and provisions of a covenant cannot be applied if that covenant is not fully in effect and binding on the covenant parties.
The covenant promised to Israel and Judah in Jeremiah 31:29ff is not fully in effect and binding on the covenant parties.
Therefore, the promises and provisions of the covenant promises in Jeremiah 31:29f are not being applied.
I challenge Richard to refute this argument, for it is so axiomatically true as to be beyond refutation. But, let’s take a closer look.
If the promises and provisions of a covenant cannot be applied if that covenant is not fully in effect, then it is irrefutably true that the church cannot be currently enjoying the benefits of that promised covenant. How can a non-existent covenant can be blessing anyone? How can the Gentiles be enjoying the benefits of Israel’s promised New Covenant (although that covenant has not yet been made), when according to scripture, God’s blessings were supposed to be “to the Jew first, then to the Greek”? Tell us, Richard, what is the authority for giving the benefits of Israel’s (not yet existing) covenant to the Gentiles first? A non-existent covenant cannot give blessings of any kind to anyone, because, well, because it does not exist!
Or, Richard, are you saying that the promised Covenant actually was made? If so, then your postponement doctrine is gone! I know of no other dispensationalist that would admit that. Thomas Ice certainly doesn’t! That would be a stunning admission, but if so, it would present insurmountable problems for the dispensational view.
Please pay close attention to this, because we really need to know. In the millennial scheme of things, under the promised Jeremiad Covenant, the Aaronic priesthood, animal sacrifice and physical circumcision will once again be imposed. So, if the Covenant was actually made, and if the church is currently enjoying the benefits of that New Covenant, why isn’t the church–and Israel– currently subject to the mandates of a restored Aaronic priesthood offering animal sacrifices and practicing physical circumcision? And a final thought here.
What happens to the gospel
if / when that Jeremiad covenant is supposedly made in the millennium? According to Paul, physical circumcision, animal sacrifices, genealogies and the Aaronic priesthood have now been invalidated by Christ. In fact, to be circumcised for religious reasons is to sever oneself from Christ (Galatians 5:1-4). Yet, in the dispensational view of things (Per Ezekiel 43-44), in the proposed millennium, physical circumcision is a mandate from God! So, Richard, what happens to the gospel in the millennium? What happens to those who come to faith in Christ, and obey the gospel? If they then submit to circumcision they are cursed from Christ. If they are not circumcised, they can’t enter Jerusalem and worship, thus incurring divine wrath, per the dispensational view of Zechariah 14. So, Richard,
what happens to the gospel?
SECOND COMING LANGUAGE AND PROPHETIC TIMING
Richard seeks desperately to mitigate the nearness of the parousia in the first century. He knows that if Christ’s second coming was to be in the first century, then his charismatic doctrine is falsified, prima facie. Unfortunately, his comments are woefully self-contradictory. He says: “Certainly many references by the apostles may be best understood as a ‘coming of the Lord’ in judgment upon Jerusalem in 70 A.D…which to the eyes of the world ended fully the dispensation of Judaism to the age of Christianity. Thus this explains many of the ‘nearness’ & ‘at hand’ language attached to the Coming of Christ in the letters to the early churches. But the attempt of Mr. Preston to cram ALL SECOND COMING LANGUAGE into an AD 70 fulfillment is simply poor biblical hermeneutics.
He then says: “Because the Holy Spirit had revealed to the apostles neither the hour nor the day of Christ’s return, but only it’s certainty…we find in the apostolic church an eager anticipation of a personal, bodily, perceivable, & unmistakable ‘coming’ again a second time to this world to judge the wicked, redeem the righteous, & purge the earth of all evil(2 Tim. 4:1).”
: On the one hand, Richard admits that the language of imminence–revealed by the Spirit!– is objective, speaking of the Lord’s coming in judgment of Israel in AD 70. Then, he claims that the Spirit only conveyed the certainty of the Lord’s coming, not the “day or the hour.” (You will note that his statement is also a tacit admission of the metaphoric use of prophetic language. He admits that the NT predicted a spiritual, non-literal coming of Christ in AD 70! He does not tell us how to tell the difference between that language and the predictions of Jesus’ “real” coming).
Well, if the language of the nearness of the Lord’s AD 70 was objective, then all language of the soon coming second coming is likewise objective. You simply cannot, logically, say for instance that when the Lord spoke of his coming being soon that this was AD 70, and then turn around and say that when, in Revelation 22:6-12 (as just one example), Jesus said the things were at hand, and that he was coming quickly, that this did not mean soon, but simply that he was certain to come. This is to manipulate (distort) language. It is illogical and wrong.
Richard continues: “No matter how Mr. Preston chooses to view the above statements, he must know that while the ‘the Kingdom of God’ was presented as ‘at hand’ in the early ministry of Christ…this was not the message of Jesus toward the close of His earthly ministry. He did not again proclaim the Kingdom as nigh to the nation.”
:– No, I know no such thing. Note the following from Acts 1.
Jesus had opened the disciples’ eyes for 40 days to understand the nature of the kingdom (Luke 24:24-46; Acts 1:4).
He told them “that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (v. 4-5).
In response to his promise that they were about to receive the Spirit, the disciples asked “Will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
The Lord said it was not for them to know the times and seasons (the day or the hour), but, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth” (v. 8).
Here is what is so critical: Jesus’ promise was the promise of the Spirit. But the Spirit would be poured out to establish the kingdom (Joel 2). The Spirit was to be given to raise Israel from the dead (Ezekiel 37:12-14). The Spirit was to be given to establish the Messiah in righteousness on his throne (Isaiah 32). The outpouring of the Spirit was an Old Covenant promise made to Israel and inseparably tied to the establishment of the kingdom!
Just a few days later, the Spirit was poured out on Pentecost. And remember that Richard agrees that what happened on Pentecost was in fulfillment of Joel 2:28f!
So the point is that when Jesus told the disciples to go into the city to await the Spirit that was an emphatic declaration of the nearness of the kingdom. His promise of the Spirit was an eschatological promise that elicited an eschatological question from the disciples. The Spirit and the establishment of the kingdom go hand in hand. Thus, Jesus’ promise that they were to wait in the city unt
il the Spirit was given was an incredible statement of the nearness of the kingdom. The kingdom was coming soon, while they were in the city! No postponement! Richard’s claim is wrong.
By the way this is another falsification of Richard’s claim that the church was not predicted in the OT! If Joel predicted the events of Pentecost, as Richard has admitted, and if Pentecost was the establishment of the church, then Joel predicted the establishment of the church! This is logically inescapable, but, we dare say, Richard will ignore this like he has my other arguments.
LUKE 21:8 AND THE PROPHETIC TIME STATEMENTS
Richard desperately needs to mitigate the NT statements regarding the nearness of Christ’s parousia, for as he has admitted, the charismata were to cease their active function at Christ’s coming. So, he repeats the mantra of so many commentators that the “day or the hour” was not made known to the disciples. This supposedly means that even though it appears that the disciples said the end was near, in fact, they did not know if it was truly near or not. This will not work.
In Luke 21:8 Jesus said, “Many will come in my name saying ‘I am he’ and, ‘The end has drawn near.’ Do not go after them!” Notice carefully that Jesus was warning his disciples (Peter, Andrew, James and John were there that day), against believing, and thus making, premature declarations of the nearness of the end.
However, in Matthew 24:32, after giving the signs of the end, he told those same disciples “When you see these things come to pass, then know that it is nigh, even at the door.” Also, while Jesus said that he did not know the day or hour (Matthew 24:36), he told the disciples that when he returned to the Father, the Spirit would be sent by the Father. When the Spirit came to them, He would “shew you things to come” (John 16:12). What does all of this mean? Well, let’s see.
Every NT book that contains statements of the nearness of the end was written after the sending of the Spirit by the Father. It was thus the Father Himself –who knew the day and the hour–who was inspiring the disciples to say “in a very, very little while, the one who is coming will come and will not delay” (Hebrews 10:37–By the way, this is the second coming of Christ to consummate the “to make the atonement” ritual of Daniel 9. Thus, the end of the seventy weeks was coming in “a very, very little while!”). And notice in Revelation 1:1-3 that it was the Father who revealed to Jesus, who in turn informed John, that, “these things must shortly come to pass….the time is at hand.” These were not declarations of Jesus in his Incarnate “ignorance!” These were statements from the Father, through Jesus! Thus, there can be no dispute about the truthfulness of whether the end was near. The Father knew the time, and the Father was revealing that the time was near! But, there is more!
Remember that Jesus told his disciples not to make premature declarations of the nearness of the end. Strangely however, to just give one example, notice 1 Peter 4, keeping certain things in mind.
A.) Jesus said the disciples were not to believe (or make) premature declarations of the nearness of the end.
B.) Jesus told those disciples (Peter included) that when they saw the signs of the end, that they could know the end was truly near. Thus, they could then say, truthfully, that the end was near.
C.) Peter, who knew of Jesus’ warnings against making premature declarations of the nearness of the end, said, “The end of all things has drawn near!” (1 Peter 4:7, 17).
Here is the question, Richard: Did Peter become one of the false prophets that Jesus warned about, making premature declarations of the end? Yes or No? Please answer this directly. And please, do not tell us that Peter was “confused,” or merely “hopeful.” Peter was revealing, through the Spirit, what the Father wanted him to write.
Was Peter wrong in his statement? Remember, it was the Father, sending the Spirit to show Peter things to come, and who caused Peter to write those words!
Now, if Peter was not a false prophet– and of course he wasn’t– then the end was truly, objectively near. And remember that Richard appealed to 1 Peter 4 as a second coming text.
Since Peter was right, the second coming was truly near, and the end of the charismata was at hand.
AGE WITHOUT END!
Feeling the force of my argument that the church age has no end, my friend expends a good deal of keyboard time simply denying the testimony of scripture, but not doing any real exegesis. Do not fail to catch the importance of this issue! I have repeatedly demonstrated that the church age has no end! I noted that F. F. Bruce, one of the greatest Greek scholars of the last generation, said that Ephesians 3:21 is the strongest expression for endlessness to be found in the entire Greek language. How does Richard respond? By saying that it simply does not mean that! What was his exegetical proof? It was not offered. By the way, note that Richard totally ignored my offering of Hebrews 12:25f and Revelation 11:15f that says that the kingdom that the first century church was then receiving could not be removed! He ignored all of my other arguments in regard to this as well. My argument stands, and it establishes my affirmative and refutes Richard’s attempts at negation.
I must reiterate one of my arguments from my second affirmative. The argument is definitive proof that the parousia was to be at the end of the Mosaic age, not at the end of human history, and not at the end of the Christian age. The argument was ignored by Richard and there is little wonder why. He cannot answer it lexically, exegetically nor hermeneutically.
I fully established that the Greek words apokatastasis (restoration, Acts 3:21) and diorthosis (reformation, Hebrews 9:10) are synonymous terms referring to the same time and same event. (The LXX used these words synonymously to speak of the restoration of Israel under the Messiah). The Greek lexicons agree on this as well. Richard did not offer one word of refutation. Not one word!
Jesus’ Second Coming was to occur at the time of the apokatastasis (Acts 3:21). This is the time of the cessation of the charismata, per friend Richard.
In Hebrews, Jesus’ Second Coming was to occur at the time of the diorthosis (reformation, Hebrews 9:10), when man would be brought into the Presence of God (Hebrews 9:28).
Thus, Jesus was to come at the time of restoration/reformation, (Acts 3; Hebrews 9:10). This is the time of the cessation of the charismata.
But the time of reformation (diorthosis) was the end of the Old Covenant age (Hebrews 9:10). The Mosaic Law would stand valid until the diorthosis!
Therefore, Jesus’ parousia– and the cessation of the charismata– occurred at the end of Old Covenant age– which Richard has already admitted was in AD 70! Remember also his admission that there are no living inspired prophets today. This demands that the charismat
a have ended!
I challenged Richard to address this argument exegetically or lexically and to demonstrate that apokatastasis and diorthosis are not used synonymously. I challenged him to demonstrate exegetically that Hebrews 9 and Acts 3 must be speaking of different times and events. He spent almost a full page of text denying the truth of my argument, but his complaint was based, not on exegesis, but on his presuppositional, literalistic view of the nature of the restoration. Interestingly, my friend even says: “Now Mr. Preston will complain that I am ignoring his points. I apologize in advance if this appears to be the case.”
Yes, my friend, you are ignoring my arguments! What you have to do to refute my argument on apokatastasis and diorthosis is to show that they are not synonyms. You have to prove that Acts 3 and Hebrews 9 speak of different times and events. Yet, Hebrews 9:28 is the time of the second coming, when man could enter the MHP, i.e. the time of reformation– just as Acts 3 is the time of the second coming, the time of the restoration. Thus, let me make the argument even simpler:
Acts 3 predicted the second coming of Christ to perfect the restoration of all things.
Hebrews 9 predicted the second coming of Christ to perfect the time of reformation.
But, Hebrews 9 posited the time of the reformation (the time of the second coming) at the end of the Mosaic Covenant.
Therefore, the second coming of Acts 3 is posited at the end of the Mosaic Covenant
Richard, all of your verbiage about the nature of the restoration of all things is falsified by this argument. This argument exposes your rigidly literalistic hermeneutic as fatally flawed, for it rejects the analogia scriptura principle. Acts 3 and Hebrews 9 interpret one another as unequivocally the same. The synonyms of apokatastasis and diorthosis prove it. The motifs and themes of each passage proves it. Your effort to deflect my argument has failed. Acts 3 and Hebrews 9 proves that the charismata were to end their active function in the church at the end of the Mosaic age in AD 70.
THE TRANSFIGURATION AND THE END OF CHARISMATA AT THE END OF THE MOSAIC AGE
Building on the argument above, let me offer another affirmative argument. I suspect I will have to complain, again, about Richard ignoring my argument, but, I will offer this anyway for the reader’s consideration.
The Transfiguration of Jesus is one of the most incredible events in the Bible. It is one of my favorite topics as well. It positively defines the time and nature of the second coming in such a way as to totally refute Richard’s theology, and validate mine.
I know of no dispensationalist that denies that the Transfiguration was a vision of the second coming of Christ to initiate the millennium. If Richard differs with his dispensational brethren on this, he can tell us why. This means that the Transfiguration is a vision of the time when the charismata would end. But, this is where Richard’s theology fails to honor what the text actually says. I ask the readers of this debate to pay very close attention to what I am about to say.
If the Transfiguration was a vision of the second coming, as all dispensationalists agree, then it should have been a vision of the end of the Christian age, right? After all, that is when Richard says the second coming is to be. If the Transfiguration was a vision of the second coming, then it should have been a vision of the destruction of the material cosmos (or perhaps, the restoration of the physical creation) per the traditional paradigms. If the Transfiguration was a vision of the second coming, it should have been a vision of the raising of biologically dead human beings out of the ground. The trouble for Richard, and all futurist eschatologies, is that the Transfiguration was not a vision of any of these things! The Transfiguration was, instead, a vision of the end of the Mosaic Covenant and the establishment of the surpassing glory of the New Covenant of Jesus!
Richard, let me recount that marvelous scene. If I say anything in error, I will expect you to correct it with text and context.
On the mount, Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus. Moses and Elijah represent the Law and the Prophets– i.e. the Mosaic Covenant.
Peter wanted to build three tabernacles, one for each of the three.
Moses and Elijah disappear, and the bath kol, the Voice of God, says of Jesus, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, hear him!” It is important to note that in the Greek we find the emphatic mode that tells us that establishes Jesus as priority, not Moses and Elijah! In other words, we find a transition being predicted!
The Transfiguration is therefore a vision of the transformation from the Mosaic Covenant glory to the New Covenant glory of Jesus!
The implications of this are astounding. Let me express it succinctly: (Let me interject this: If the Mosaic Covenant was abrogated at the cross, then the Transfiguration should have been a vision of the cross. But, the Transfiguration was patently not a vision of the cross. Peter said the Transfiguration was a vision of the parousia, 2 Peter 1:16f)! So…
The Transfiguration was a vision of the Second Coming of Christ (2 Peter 1:16f).
But, the Transfiguration was a vision of the end of the Mosaic Covenant and the establishment of the New Covenant of Christ.
Therefore, the Second Coming of Christ occurred at the end of the Mosaic Covenant.
We would take note that Richard has already concurred that the Mosaic Covenant– the power of the holy people– was destroyed in AD 70. (Of course, he then contradicted himself by saying Torah was annulled at the cross). Thus, the Second Coming of Christ and the end of the charismata, occurred in AD 70. This is, therefore, irrefutable.
Richard, my friend, I am going to ask that you address this argument directly, without evasion, without obfuscation. Deal with it contextually, hermeneutically and logically, if you can. Don’t give us a bunch of ad hominem arguments about not seeing the restoration of dirt, rocks and trees, or the nation of Israel! Give us exegesis, solid hermeneutic and logic!
1 CORINTHIANS 13 AND THE EYE TO EYE STATE
I knew that my argument on that which is perfect– the time of the cessation of the charismata– would be deeply disturbing to my friend. And it patently was! He complains about the “non-literal approach to Isaiah,” although he admits that the apostles used this interpretative approach. We appreciate that admission. My friend then simply denies my argument– again with no exegesis. But this will not do.
Paul preached nothing but the hope of Israel. This means that “that which is perfect” was the hope of Israel! Richard says we must understand that this is a multi-varied hope. Well, Paul says there was “one hope” (Ephesians 4:4f). He affirms this repeatedly (Acts 24:14f; 26:6f; 26:21f; 28:20). He did not preach promises to the church different from the promises made to Israel
! This is crucial to understand, since in Richard’s view, the promises to the church and the promises to Israel are totally separate. According to Richard’s theology, Israel’s hope had been deferred, remember? Why did Paul, as he preached the gospel of Christ and the body of Christ, say that his gospel was nothing but the hope of Israel, if those things were unrelated to the hope of Israel? This undeniable fact is fatal to Richard’s theology.
Now, Richard admits that Isaiah 52 is about the restoration hope of Israel. Of course, he insists it must be fulfilled in a future, literal restoration. That is not Paul’s view. Before I reiterate my argument on that which is perfect and the “face to face” state when the charismata was to end, let me demonstrate that Paul most assuredly believed that Isaiah 52 was being fulfilled in his day, and in his ministry, in Christ and the church.
Isaiah 52 is the prediction of the restoration of Israel– Richard agrees.
The time of the restoration of Israel was to be “the acceptable time, the day of salvation” (Isaiah 49:6-10), the time when Israel and Judah would be saved, and the Gentiles called into that salvation.
Paul, who preached nothing but the hope of Israel said, writing to the church at Corinth: “Now is the acceptable time. Today is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2). He is quoting Isaiah 49! The implications for Richard, and dispensationalism, are staggering. Here is the argument:
The time of Israel’s salvation would be the acceptable time, the day of salvation (Isaiah 49:6-8).
But, Paul said the acceptable time and the day of salvation was occurring in his generation and in his ministry (2 Corinthians 6:1-2).
Therefore, the restoration of Israel was occurring in Paul’s generation and in his ministry!
This argument proves that Paul, through the Spirit, was interpreting Isaiah spiritually (just as he said was supposed to be done, 1 Corinthians 2:6f!). He was not improperly allegorizing. He was revealing what those OT prophecies actually foretold. See 1 Peter 1:10f on this.
According to Richard’s paradigm, the acceptable time and the day of salvation could not be present in the first century. The acceptable time had been postponed, so far 2000 years. But, Paul, who preached nothing but the hope of Israel disproves that! The acceptable time and the day of salvation foretold in Isaiah, and promised to Israel, was present in Paul’s day. No postponement, no delay! Now, let’s apply that to Paul’s anticipation of “that which is perfect.”
Paul preached the arrival of “that which is perfect” the time of the cessation of the charismata (1 Corinthians 13:8-13), Richard and I both agree.
“That which is perfect” is the “face to face” state, the time of the restoration of Israel under her Messiah (Isaiah 52).
The time of the restoration of Israel would be in the acceptable time, the day of salvation (Isaiah 49:6f).
The acceptable time and the day of salvation was present in Paul’s generation and in his ministry (2 Corinthians 6:1-2).
Therefore, the face to face state, the arrival of that which is perfect, belongs to Paul’s generation and his ministry.
I suggest that this argument is unassailable. I likewise suggest that Richard will wave it aside with continuing appeal to his presuppositional theology, with no attempt at exegesis. His failure to substantively examine the argument will be demonstration of the validity of the argument.
Summary and Conclusion
I have presented argument after argument, based on solid exegesis in verification of my proposition. Richard tacitly admits that he has not actually responded to my arguments. He does exclaim, “Don, much learning has made you mad!” Well, as when that accusation was originally made, the charge was false, and the accused was speaking the truth! 🙂
I have shown that the charismata were to end at the resurrection and second coming, which Richard admits– and that the second coming was to occur, and did, at the end of the Old Covenant in AD 70. Richard himself admitted that Daniel 12 was fulfilled in AD 70!
All that Richard has done, repeatedly, is to object, with no exegesis. Just go back and read all of my affirmatives, and take another look at how he has essentially ignored them. He has appealed to his ad hominem, presuppositional arguments that “no one sees the restoration of all things.”
In truth, Richard has not offered one single substantive, exegetical argument to even attempt to refute my affirmatives. He keeps promising us some strong arguments. I am hoping– and suspecting– that Richard will appeal to Romans 11:25-27 in his affirmatives. If and when he does, I will demonstrate beyond any doubt that Paul had a first century fulfillment in mind. So, Richard, feel free to introduce Romans 11!
My affirmative proposition stands proven beyond any successful refutation, but, we will eagerly await Richard’s attempt.
SUBJECT: THE TIME OF THE CESSATION OF THE CHARISMATA
(THE MIRACULOUS GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT)?
THIRD AND FINAL AFFIRMATIVE BY DON K. PRESTON
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