Jackson-V-Preston Written Debate on the Cessation of the Charismata
Richard Jackson’s Third and Final Negative
“For the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us, to the intent that, denying ungodliness & worldly lusts, we should live soberly & righteously in this present world; looking for the blessed hope & appearing of the glory of the Great God & our Savior Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, & purify unto Himself a people for His own possession, zealous of good works.
These things speak & exhort & reprove with all authority. Let no man despise thee”(Titus 2:11-15 ASV).
The powerful words of the apostle to his friend & loyal companion in the work of the gospel.
This being my third & final negative presentation of Mr. Preston’s proposition…i must be careful not to introduce any truly new material to which Don will not have opportunity to respond. I find it amusing however, that Don complains of my lack of response to his arguments…& then HE HIMSELF overlooks at least ten points of interest…essential in every way to this debate…in his overall responses to my negatives. He did not touch top side nor bottom side to the two contrasting characteristics of this ‘present age’ of sin, sickness, disease, & death…with that predicted ‘world & age which is to come’ in which there is to be no pain, no sickness, no disease, no sorrow…INDEED A TIME WHEN GOD SHALL WIPE AWAY EVERY TEAR FROM HUMAN EYES, & DEATH SHALL BE NO MORE(Rev. 21:3-4).
It must be obvious to everyone but the determined preterist…that an exhaustive fulfillment of the prophetic word relative to the heavens & the earth…to the church & to fleshly Israel…& to the Gentile nations of this world & to humankind in general…has not yet occurred. Only by an unauthorized spiritualization of prophetic language can Mr. Preston arrive at his preterist conclusions!
Personally, i understand how easily it is to overlook material presented in the course of an oral or written debate, & it is not always intentional. So i will forgive Mr. Preston in advance for doing the same thing that he finds me thrice guilty of!
It is my obligation once again, in this, my final negative speech, to straighten Mr. Preston out on the nature of Christ’s second coming, & the gifts of the the Holy Ghost.
HYMENAEAUS, PHILETUS, & MR. DON K. PRESTON
The relationship of Don to these early preterists is plain. They all mistakenly see fulfillment where there is none. Erring brother Hymenaeaus(for whatever reasons)denied a future physical resurrection in Paul’s day. Perhaps he misunderstood the apostle’s description of conversion as a ‘resurrection of sorts'()& identified this figurative application as fulfilling ALL RESURRECTION POSSIBILITIES. Or maybe he saw in the resurrection of Christ & those who returned with Him to life(Matt. 27:52&53) as fulfilling ALL RESURRECTION PREDICTIONS. The issue then, as now, is not so much a failure to recognize an allegorical & figurative sense to prophetic language…but to make them EXCLUSIVELY SO with no literal/grammatical application as well. Don correctly states that the only problem with these trouble makers in the early church was that their ‘timing was off'(DKP). Maybe. Maybe more. But know matter how you shake it Don…YOU LIKEWISE ARE DENYING A FUNDAMENT AL EXPERIENCE TO THE CHURCH WITH YOUR 70 A.D.ISM! No? The belief of the early church in regards to the final REAL & ACTUAL PHYSICAL RESURRECTION from the dead ‘at the end of time’ was apparently crucial to the understanding of the completion of the whole redemptive work of Christ(1 Cor.15:13-17) Notice…
Because God raised Christ He set His seal on the atoning work wrought out of the Cross. He demonstrated His divine power in the face of sin & death, & at the same time His will to save all men…& belief in the resurrection for the believer reminds us all that we are not men(& women)for whom this life is all(1 Cor.15:19). Our hope lies elsewhere. THIS GIVES THE CHURCH PERSPECTIVE & MAKES FOR DEPTH OF LIVING…& little wonder Paul did what he could to expose these first attempts at preterism! A metaphorical application to all resurrection prophecies is unwise, unwarranted, & results in a doctrinal departure from true apostolic teaching on the final resurrection & judgment(1 Cor.15:12).
“But now hath Christ been raised from the dead, the FIRST-FRUITS of them that are asleep”(1 Cor. 15:20). Mr. Preston will say that he does not deny the resurrection…but i submit to the reading audience that in all reality HE DOES, & that in a most subtle way! But heresy at times has been the best thing for the church. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good(1 Thess 5:21).
THE KINGDOM OF GOD & OF CHRIST…
Mr Preston insists that since the Kingdom of Heaven was announced as ‘near’ & ‘at hand’ by both John the baptizer & Jesus Himself…it would have been impossible for this offered Kingdom NOT to have been established within a short time frame of it’s pronouncement. If the ‘Kingdom of God’ proclaimed as ‘at hand’ by John & Jesus did not quickly appear(at least within the lifetime of the disciples)…then Christ & John were mistaken & the ‘prophecy failed'(DKP).
It may be that at some future time, Don & i will discuss exclusively the Theocratic Kingdom concept in the scriptures. Now is not the time for such a discussion. But let me point out, once again, to Mr. Preston that the national rejection of God’s Christ by Israel, foreknown by God, did indeed interrupt the flow of prophetic history as several inspired statements show(Matt 12:14&15, 12:46&50 23: 37-39, Lk. 19: 43-44). The foreknown result made no difference as to the sincerity of the offered Kingdom to Israel at the first coming of Christ. Indeed, God’s determinate counsel was shaped by this foreseen voluntary choice of that nation, & the manifold wisdom of God was equal to this emergency of national disbelief & rejection of Messiah. The Theocratic Kingdom program continued to be developed…& Christ prepared His disciples through many progressive announcements that assert the withdrawal of the offer of the Kingdom(see above).
In the beginning of the gospel John announced the the Kingdom of Heaven to be ‘at hand’…but the Kingdom did not then come, but was rejected…John was martyred, & the King was crucified(Matt. 3:2, Lk. 10:23&24, Matt. 15:24, 23:27-39). Don Preston is free to deny this interpretive view of the ‘Kingdom of God’ as developed in the scriptures…but his alternative hyper preterist interpretations relative to God’s program to manifest His sovereignty by His rule ON EARTH..including the consummation of that program in universal acknowledgment(Philip. 2: 9-11, Rev. 1: 7&8, Rev. 2:26&27)), is wholly inadequate. This is not to deny that in one sense Christ now reigns in the hearts of believers, & that the church represents the Kingdom of God to-day…what was not established but offered at the first coming of Christ was the Kingdom of God in the earth, in open manifestation & supreme power—the subject of a large body of prophetic scripture.
PROPHETIC SOPHISTRY & DANIEL’S 7OTH WEEK…
I remarked in my last speech that there is evidence in scripture to suggest that the offered Kingdom to Israel was postponed early in the ministry of Christ. Mr. Preston answered that…’Richard’s postponement theory is false,(& which shows)his entire negative is false…his eschatology is likewise in error, (and) in fact there is no evidence that the Kingdom was postponed'(DKP). He then reiterates the preterist interpretation of Daniel’s seventy weeks.
Don insists that there can be
no gap of time in Daniel’s prophecy & yet he himself has no answer as to why this prophecy contains three time divisions(7+69+1)with each period having it’s own particular activity. The fact that each period is mentioned separately is an ‘intimation, if not direct proof, that in the mind of God there was to be a break, if not a ‘gap’, between them'(Larkin).
To be specific…that which demands a ‘gap’ between the 69th & 70th week is the prophecy itself & it’s actual fulfillment. If as Don teaches, the 70th week must immediately follow the 69th week, then Jerusalem’s destruction by the Roman armies some 38 years following Christ’s crucifixion places this part of the prophecy AFTER the 70th week.
The intervention of two events after the 69th week which in their historic fulfillment occupied almost forty years makes necessary a gap between the 69th seven & the beginning of the 70th seven of at least this length of time. Mr Preston’s preterist continuous fulfillment theory breaks down in light of an actual fulfillment of Daniel’s words.
I ask the reading audience to read again Daniel’s prophetic words…& see if Mr. Preston’s interpretation allows for a full fulfillment to the prophecy. Who would confuse ‘Messiah the Prince’ with the ‘Prince that shall come’…a fiendish despot related to the Roman people(vs.25&26)? The people belonging to Christ were the Jews, not the Romans. Hence it follows that there are two Princes demanded by this prophecy of Daniel. It is this second prince, Roman in character, who establishes a one week(7 year) covenant with the many…& who…in the midst of this seven year alliance causes the sacrifices & oblations to cease. This cannot refer to Jesus Christ & His death at the cross, because, as a matter of fact, the sacrifices of that time did NOT stop until some 40 years later, & certainly not by Christ, but by Roman soldiers.
What is contemplated in this entire prophecy by Daniel(& overlooked by Don)are events, some of which have never had historical fulfillment. Daniel’s great prophecy of the seventy sevens comprehends the total history of Israel from the time of Nehemiah in 445 B.C. until the second coming of Jesus the Christ. In my humble opinion(smile), only a furturist interpretation allows for an exhaustive fulfillment to Daniel’s prophecy.
I do sincerely believe that the King & Kingdom of God, in fulfillment of prophecy, was offered to Israel & rejected by them at the first coming of Christ…& which rejection set in motion their temporary blindness, & Gentile opportunity during THIS AGE. Romans chapter 11 summarizes this very thing. Since Mr. Preston has allowed me to touch upon Romans 11 in this final negative…i will do so at the proper time.
DON K. PRESTON & THE AGE OF MIRACLES…
Mr Preston’s inadequate grasp of the design & scope of God’s power in the gospel dispensation is typical church of Christ doctrine. While i concede that believers are not promised ‘power'(Acts 1:8) in the same sense, kind & degree as demonstrated through the apostles…it is apparent at the same time that believers are right to expect supernatural manifestations within the body of Christ subject to the will of the Spirit(1 Cor. 12-14).
Restricting the miraculous to the age of the apostles as a systematic theology of sorts has no true basis in scripture, nor in history. The idea that miraculous gifts of the Spirit mentioned in the New Testament ceased after the Apostolic Age is an unfortunate concept which began to be developed by Reformation theologians…& is, i believe, an over-reaction to the false claims of the Roman church.
Mr. Preston rightly affirms & teaches that the true time for the termination of healing & spiritual gifts is THE RETURN OF THE CHRIST FROM HEAVEN. But if his pretersist eschatology is wrong & CHRIST HAS NOT COME BACK A SECOND TIME…then healing & spiritual gifts as outlined in Corinthians, Romans, & Ephesians are available to the church today, & supplied to Christ’s church for it’s profit.
I look forward to a fuller explanation of these things when i am in the affirmative of the matter.
THE CHURCH AS A MYSTERY & UNFORESEEN…
If i appear to be a ‘sophist’ when i see the need for a possible gap between Daniel’s 69th & 70th week…a gap made necessary by the nature of the prophecy & the events to be fulfilled…then Don certainly out shine’s me with ‘sophistry’ in his denial of the MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH AGE. Why? Now watch this closely.
Don says…”It was not the church itself that was spoken of as the mystery. The ‘mystery’ aspect was Jew & Gentile equality in Christ” And again..”Richard wants to tell us that that OT never predicted the church or the church age!”.
Mr Preston insists that the church & church age is not a mystery …but there is(he admits)a mystery aspect to the church & this age. He says it is the ‘equality’ of Jew & Gentile in Christ, in the church, that is the mystery component of the age. But the divine program developed in the church making Jew & Gentile equal, forming them all into One Body, establishing Gentiles as ‘fellow-heirs, fellow-members, & fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel’…is the ESSENCE OF THE MYSTERY! Don’s quick admission of a ‘mystery aspect’ in the church in order to avoid the idea that the whole age itself is referred to as a MYSTERY PROGRAM is a cleverly devised avoidance of the apostle’s statements.
A revelation of a divine mystery was given to Christ’s apostles & prophets in the church.
This mystery ‘which in other generations was not made known unto the sons of men'(Eph. 3:5)), for it had been a ‘mystery which for ages had been hid in God(Eph.3:9), indeed it had been ‘kept in silence through times eternal(Rom. 16:25))…but NOW HAS BEEN MANIFESTED THROUGH NEW TESTAMENT APOSTLES & PROPHETS(Rom. 16:26) puts a rod in the spoke of Mr. Preson’s end time theology. Why? Because if the church age came in as a prophetic mystery…then there is allowance for an uncramped exhaustive fulfillment of all prophecy as it relates to Israel as God’s elect, & to us who are blessed through them(Rom. 11:11&12)).
In order for Don to be consistent in his belief that the church is the consummation of God’s program…he must be prepared to deal with the apostles inspired words describing the church & it’s Age as an unpredicted mystery. Paul said the church was a mystery which had been hid in God & therefore not made known to the sons of men. When i therefore repeat the words of Paul & speak of the church & of this Age as mystery…Don says ‘there is not a word of truth in it’. And so he plays upon a grammatical construction to dodge the apostle’s obvious implication of an entirely new revelation of truth.
The Greek word translated “as” in Ephesians 3:5 is subject to a variety of interpretations. One of the great defending Amillennialists of his day, Oswald T. Allis, admitted that this ‘declaration by Paul(in Ephesians) taken by itself would seem to imply that it(Paul’s revelation) was absolutely new’. Don would have the reading audience to think that Paul was merely declaring that his revelation into these matters was only greater in degree, not that the ‘Church & Church Age’ was unknown to the Old Testament prophets…& he bases this idea upon the conjunction ‘as'(Eph 3:5). Watch him dodge…”Note that Paul said that the mystery was ‘not made know 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!”.
Don’s grasping after such an interpretation only does violence to the whole of the apostles thought, not to mention it violates the general meaning & usage of the word (as) it is used throughout the New Testam
ent. It is used here for the purpose of further explanation, & is simply declarative. Paul is not discussing varying degrees of revelation! What he was declaring to the church at Ephesus was the committal of a new revelation to him & to others regarding the mystery program of the church, which, had been kept secret in God & had not been made known in ages past…but IS NOW REVEALED to the apostles & prophets.
I ask the reading audience to carefully review those scriptures which speak of the church as a ‘mystery’ program in God’s prophetic plan…& from thence draw their own conclusions on the matter(Rom 16:25-27, Eph. 3:1-6, Col. 1:26-27).
THE REIGN OF CHRIST ON DAVID’S THRONE…
It is Mr. Preston’s position that Psalm 110 is fulfilled in Christ & in the church…& thus the psalm does not look beyond to events which could only be completed by Christ’s second. I agree with Don that importance of Psalm 110 is attested by the remarkable prominence given to it in the New Testament(Don counts 32 New Testament citations of it). I do not deny Christ’s present all-inclusive sovereignty…a foremost position held by Him as the resurrected & glorified Son of God. He sits now at the Right Hand of God exalted, a position of supreme authority. But the reign of Christ includes a sphere of rule & governmental authority which God had delegated UNTO DAVID, & which Christ, by virtue of his Davidic descent in the royal lineage, has legally inherited from his father David… which is a throne & a dominion HE HAS NEVER OCCUPIED(Matt. 19:28, 25:31. The throne of David is not the Right Hand of God where Christ now sits with supreme power & amp; authority. It must be understood that Christ is NOT NOW ACTIVELY EXERCISING governmental rule in the realm of David.
So while portions of Psalm 110 refer to the resurrection & present exaltation of the Christ at God’s Right Hand…it’s full prophetic fulfillment(the appearing of the rod of Jehovah’s strength…the deliverer out of Zion…Israel’s conversion…judgment upon Gentile powers…& the final exaltation of Messiah in His Kingdom)requires both advents of Christ. All of these themes are present in the Messianic Psalms(2)(8)(72)(110)etc.
Mr. Preston’s preterist system of prophetic interpretation does not give God’s prophetic word the widest possible context of fulfillment in relation to His purposes from eternity past to eternity future. Christ is yet to appear a second time in glorious manifestation(Titus 2:13)to judge the living & the dead(2 Tim. 4:1) & to establish in open & outward manifestation the Kingdom of God in the earth(Matt.6:10 1 Cor. 15:24). And Ladies & Gentlemen of the reading audience…healing & spiritual gifts will remain in the community of Christ UNTIL HE COMES AGAIN.
For Don to say that all prophecy concerning the second coming of our lord Jesus Christ was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70…& that the church is now living in the endless age of the new creation is prophetic fantasy. Charles Spurgeon said of the preterism, even it’s mild form, ‘fails reasoning’. What would he conclude of it’s revived & most radical form & it’s newest vendors?
THE TWO COVENANTS…
I do not deny that the Judaic system of worship(Old Covenant)continued beyond the institution of Christianity with the first coming of Christ. What i do say is that the death of Christ, His ascension to the Right Hand of God, & the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost effected the foundation of the New Covenant…all of which effectively abolished the first Covenant made with Israel.
Don is mistaken to think that the church is now fulfilling Israel’s New Covenant. That Gentile believer’s in Christ partake of some of the spiritual blessings(Rom. 11:17 note partake ‘with’ them)promised in this Covenant is clearly brought out in the New Testament scriptures…but the relation of the church to the New Covenant is not one of replacement but mutual participation. Besides, the gospel is not a covenant, but the revelation of the salvation of God. It proclaims the great salvation. We indeed enjoy all the essential privileges of the New Covenant, its foundation being laid on God’s part in the blood of Christ, but we do so in spirit, not according to the letter.
Christ, by His death, has laid the foundation for Israel’s New Covenant, but it’s benefits will not be received by Israel until the second advent(Rom. 11:25).
PROPHETIC TIME STATEMENTS…
Herein is the actual cradle of preterism. One of my professor’s in school used to say, ‘truth stretched out of proportion always becomes error’. Mr. Preston & his group has made this T-R-U-T-H stretching a science. He takes the truth regarding the predicted ‘COMING AGAIN OF CHRIST TO THIS WORLD A SECOND TIME TO JUDGE THE LIVING & THE DEAD’ & demands that EVERY reference requires a NEAR FULFILLMENT. And why is this? Because of the ‘nearness language’ that is often associated with Christ’s coming again. Now then…is the over-spiritualized system of preterism the ONLY OPTION OPEN for prophetic interpretation? NOT AT ALL!
It has been recognized by almost all systems of prophetic interpretation that both the figurative & the literal must be carefully distinguished in any prophetic passage. Prophetic pronouncements relative to the ‘Coming of Christ’, either by Himself(John 14: 1-4), or by His apostles(Acts 1:10&11)who spoke & wrote by His Spirit requires special attention to these matters.
Because Mr. Preston rightly sees in many passages…not a literal return of Jesus to this earth in final judgment, but perhaps a ‘coming again in spiritual presence’ to execute a judgment upon certain individuals or a nation for that matter(Rev. 1:16)…he theorizes that EVERY REFERENCE must have a figurative or spiritual application & fulfillment. Here is Preston’s error in a nutshell. He must now squeeze every prophecy to fit his new novel of interpretation. What began in truth, now becomes error. Watch carefully.
The following prophecies may be understood figuratively & no doubt are prophetic of Jerusalem’s impending destruction(bear in mind that a prophecy can contain a dual, partial, & ultimate application, but let us not discuss that here)…
Matt. 10:23…”you will not have gone over through all the towns of Israel, before the Son of man comes”. Or
Matt. 26:63 & 64…”…hereafter you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, & coming on the clouds of heaven.” Or
Mark 13:26…”And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power & glory.”
All of these & several other predicted ‘comings’ of Christ are no doubt fulfilled upon the Jewish nation in the first century. But there are something like 318 references to the return of Jesus Christ in the New Testament & not ALL of them can be understood as an invisible spiritual presence. Indeed, second coming language demands at some point an OUTWARD VISIBLE RADIANT MANIFESTATION(Phanerosis Pet. 5:4) of Christ to the church…& which ‘coming’ is described as an UNDISCLOSED & OPEN REVELATION of His Power & Kingdom…a revelation from HEAVEN WITH HIS MIGHTY ANGELS IN FLAMING FIRE dealing out retribution to all those who do not obey the gospel…when ‘HE COMES’ to be glorified in His saints on THAT DAY, & to be marveled at among ALL who have believed(2 Tim. 4:1)(2 Thess. 1:7-10).
In order for Don the preterist to put all 318 references of Christ’s coming again into a first century fulfillment he must seek out ‘strange fire’ interpretations for these prophecies. Everything is redefined. The entire Bible is recast to fit this new novel doctrine. He has no serious answer to the continuing cycle of life, the presence of sin & death, the unbroken curse of sin upon creation, THE IMPERFECTION & IMMATURITY OF THE BODY OF CHRIST, the vast
majority of the nations continuing in defiance & unbelief. HELLO DON????? Where do you live??? Don will say that we only fail to see with the eyes of faith the reality of Christ’s presence in the church & if we could but receive it…all of this is nonetheless true but invisible & hidden to the eyes of unbelief. BOSH!
The truth of the matter is there remains for the comfort & encouragement to the church of Christ the coming crown of history…the final coming of the incarnate Son of God to this world.
THE RESTORATION OF ALL THINGS…
Mr. Preston forces New Testament expressions of thought to fit his prophetic model of end times. He confuses the first coming of Christ which effectively abolished Jewish ceremonial ordinances for the more clear, vital, & spiritual worship of God. The gospel dispensation is a reformation of these things. But what is accomplished at ‘the times of reformation’ in the coming of Christ & Christianity into the world is not identical with what is COMPLETED BY CHRIST’S APPEARING A SECOND TIME for the ultimate salvation(that great inclusive word gathering into itself all redemptive activities)for His church…a COMING AGAIN A SECOND TIME to finish & fulfill purposes which were not accomplished at His first coming.
I have never seen a biblical commentator as yet mix & smash the ‘reformation’ of Hebrews 9 with the ‘restoration’ of Acts 3 as Mr. Preston does. Don is rare, unique, & unusual! All have recognized that both advents of Christ(as normally understood)are required to give the prophetic language of scripture an exhaustive fulfillment. Now with that in mind, we understand that Hebrews 9 contrasts & explains the better covenant established by Christ’s first coming(& for the most part Don’s commentary is quite good)…& this explanation concludes with a reference to that time when Christ shall appear a second time for those believers whose sins have been washed away in His atoning blood…& it is then that they enter into the fullness of salvation, & the actual presence of God. It is here where Mr. Preston’s preterist mystical interpretations become apparent.
Don says i must show the reading audience that ‘diorthosis’ & (apokatastasis’)are NOT synonymous term referring to the same time & the same event’. I take the opportunity to do so now.
The ‘reformation’ of Hebrews 9 speaks of that which was accomplised at the first coming of Christ. The ‘restoration’ of Acts 3 speaks of that which shall be accomplished at the Second Coming of Christ. Indeed…Hebrews 9 concludes with the very idea that the ‘reformation’ brought about by Christ’s first coming is to be completed by His ‘Second’ & final appearing unto the church. The two terms are not synonimuous, nor to they speak of identical times. Mr. Preston presses himself against the scholarship of the world in an attempt to do so. I repeat…it requires both advents of Christ (& both literal)to establish fully both the internal reality of the Kingdom of Christ in the church, & it’s eventual exterior & open manifestation to the world. Both Acts & Hebrews touch upon these different aspects of the Kingdom. What can i say? The ‘restoration’ referred to by Peter in Acts resulting from the RETURN OF MESSIAH FROM HEAVEN could only be seen as fulfil led by an unwarranted mystical & spiritualized application of the apostles words. But such is the interpretive method of preteristic eschatology. It claims to uphold the integrity of God’s word by proclaiming to the church it’s ‘ALL IS FULFILLED & WE ARE NOW LIVING IN THE ENDLESS AGE’ novel doctrine of all things prophetic. Most often, & in the end however, as a system of interpretation it fails to convince.
The ‘times of restitution’ of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began must include the promised ‘restoration’ of Israel under Messiah in the latter days…if we believe what God has spoken through the prophets(Deut. 4: 27-31, 30:1-10). THE RESTORATION OF THE KINGDOM TO ISRAEL UNDER THE TERMS OF THE NEW COVENANT WAS A MAJOR THEME OF ALL THE PROPHETS SINCE THE WORLD BEGAN! These prophecies do not find their fulfillment in the church of Christ. They were given to the fleshy descendants of Abraham through Jacob, & they will be fulfilled in them as promised(Acts 26:6&7).
THE TRANSFIGURATION, A REHEARSAL OF THE SECOND COMING…
It has never been my intention to ‘evade with obfuscation’ nor to deal out ‘ad hominem arguments’ in my replies to Mr. Preston’s views in this debate. I do sharply disagree with him on the matters of biblical prophecy & the cessation of healing & spiritual gifts. I have never questioned in this debate his sincerity nor his personal integrity. I do demand however, an open mind between us as to the various possibilities in approaching these scriptural themes. I agree to disagree in compassion, sympathy, kindness, & love as we press forward in His gracious Spirit.
Mr. Preston’s spiritual application of the events of our Lord’s transfiguration would make an excellent Sunday sermon, for it was filled with some beautiful thoughts & reflections. But his preteristic interpretive method freezes this glorious event to fit only his view of prophetic fulfillment.
Don cannot speak for the dispensationalist, or even the modified dispensationalist for that matter when he says that ‘this was a vision of the end of the Christian Age’…or questions why(according to the dispensational scheme)the destruction of the cosmos, the re-creation of the physical universe, or the resurrection of the dead do not appear in the vision…if the vision is a prevision of the Second Coming & it’s associated events. I understand this vision granted to the disciples certainly contains several applications…metaphorical, spiritual, & literal. To miss any of these possible applications of the vision would be unfortunate to say the least.
To sum up Mr. Preston’s application is quite simple. The vision is to be understood spiritually as a visible demonstration of the coming end of the Old Covenant, & the establishing of the more glorious New Covenant by Christ Himself. Don’s spiritual application of the vision is quite moving. But it stops short of the prophetic picture hidden within the vision, & which would be of vital interest to the disciples.
Peter states the vision granted by Christ to the disciples was a preview of THE POWER & COMING OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST which confirmed the prophetic hope of the church(2 Pet. 1: 16-18). The significance of the various features of the vision say far more that what is allowed by Mr. Preston. The purpose of the vision was to give assurance to the disciples of the yet future COMING OF CHRIST TO REIGN WITH RADIANT GLORY WITH HIS RESURRECTED & TRANSLATED CHURCH IN HIS MESSIANIC KINGDOM. Don continues to smash everything into a first century fulfillment & in so doing he forces fulfillment when there is none. I would agree with Don that this vision is one of the most sublime & ‘incredible events in the Bible’…it is also one of my favorite topics as well. And it should be to every prophetic student of scripture.
Don is wrong to limit the meaning of the vision to the spiritual aspect of the Kingdom of God now fulfilled in the church, & the transition made from Judaism to Christianity fulfilled by Christ’s first coming & in the subsequent destruction of Jerusalem. The vision must contain much more than what is allowed by Mr. Preston, especially in light of the apostle’s statement that what they saw on the mount somehow previewed the RETURN OF CHRIST IN GLORY(2 Pet. 1:16).
I wish to maintain the concept that ‘truth stretched out of proportion becomes error’ & this is the predicament Mr. Preston places himself in. It was not the purpose of the vision to show forth EVERY END TIME EVENT…& so Don need not wonder why EARTH’S DESTRUC
TION BY FIRE, OR AN ORGANIC RESURRECTION OF DEAD PHYSICAL BODIES DO NOT APPEAR IN THE VISION(2 Pet. 3:12)(1 Cor. 15:52). The vision merely assured the disciples in regards to THE COMING OF CHRIST & HIS KINGDOM IN GLORIOUS POWER. This vision of the radiant Christ, Moses & Elijah with it’s obvious application to the COMING OF CHRIST WITH HIS RESURRECTED SAINTS(represented by Moses)TOGETHER WITH THE TRANSLATED & TRANSFORMED SAINTS(represented by Elijah)AS A FUTURE CERTAINTY is no doubt part of the message conveyed through the vision.
By the way, the transition from the Mosaic system of worship to Christianity only confirms the continuation of the miraculous among the Lord’s people. Mr. Preston presents a prophetic puzzle whose pieces in the end are too small to fill up the framework of the overall picture. It’s close. But close don’t cut it. His preterism is a recasting of the whole Bible. It must be exposed as false, & rejected by the church.
ROMANS 11…& THE DEATH OF AMILLINALIALISM…
I am surprised that Don would even call the attention of the reading audience to Romans chapter 9 through 11. It is dangerous ground for him & his preterist brethren. Why? Because if the apostle sets forth & establishes anything in these chapters with regard to a definite future destiny for fleshly Israel…IT IS HERE!
To highlight briefly some of the prophetic statements relative to God’s elect…quickly note the following.
>The purposes & promises of God to Israel in spite of the nation’s past shame, failure & unbelief is clearly set forth in these chapters as it is related to divine sovereignty.
>Paul reveals that as a result of Israel’s unbelief, the mass of natural Israel is in a state of insensitivity(poroo/porosis 11:7)
>God’s sovereign purposes are being fulfilled through Israel’s rejection & unbelief in Messiah Jesus…Because
>Through their fall…SALVATION IS COME UNTO THE GENTILES.
>But that God IS NOT THROUGH WITH NATURAL ISRAEL becomes a major theme in these chapters(11).
Clearly then, Mr. Preston’s approach to the prophetic word cannot render an exhaustive fulfillment to the words of Paul here, & other statements of scripture appertaining to the same. I ask the reading audience, with Don’s approval,…to carefully read Romans 9 through 11 & see if the apostle does not hold out a ‘a destiny for Israel which requires a yet future fulfillment(A. Campbell).
The great Walter Scott said of the return of Christ…’It is important to the character of those who have entered upon discipleship to Christ by obedience to the true gospel, that they have their hopes elevated to the appearing of Christ, & fixed upon the purity, perfection, & glory of His Kingdom…LET US PREACH THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST WITH ALL IT’S ADJUNCTS, FOR IT’S INTRINSIC MERITS, & IT’S OWN DIVINE IMPORTANCE…”(private source)
FINAL THOUGHTS & CONCLUSION…
Mr. Preston took upon himself the impossible task of affirming a past fulfillment of the final return of Jesus Christ to His church & to this world in 70 A.D…which of course, if it were true, it would have terminated the need & function of healing & spiritual gifts. He attempted to establish his proposition by a most amazing use of scripture juggling. He is deceptively quick & dexterous. Some of the emails to me during the course of this discussion, while perhaps disagreeing with me on healing & spiritual gifts, do not hesitate to identify the teachings of Don K. Preston as ‘deep doctrinal error’.
His attempt to make good the idea that healing & spiritual gifts have ceased in the church of Christ awaits another time. That which he proposed to do, he did not do.
Don to me is an erring brother, a man whose is nonetheless deeply committed to the christian life. I thank you Don, & the debate administrator’s for the honor of this engaging discussion!
My first affirmative presentation concerning healing & spiritual gifts for the church today will be posted ASAP.
May God bless,