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Preston-Simmons Debate: The Perfection of Salvation and Passing of Torah– Simmon's First Affirmative

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Don K. Preston

 

 

 

Preston-Simmons Debate

 

When was Sin Defeated? AD 70 or the Cross?

 

Simmons’ First Affirmative

 

It is my turn to be in the affirmative. Here is the proposition I will affirm:

 

Resolved: The Bible teaches that the coming of Christ for salvation in Romans 11:25-27 occurred at the Cross at the climax and termination of the Mosaic Covenant Age.

Here are the definitions I will employ: “Coming” refers to the first advent of Christ, from his nativity to his ascension. “Cross” includes the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord. “Salvation” signifies the work of atonement accomplished in Jesus’ substitutionary death. “Climax and termination of the Mosaic Covenant Age” refers to the legal end and annulment of the covenant enjoined by Moses in the wilderness.

Don and I are both agreed that “salvation” in the passage refers to salvation from sin. In my negatives, I have already proved that the debt of sin was paid and expunged, and that grace was full and free from and after the cross. But if salvation from sin occurred at the cross, it then follows that the coming contemplated by the passage also refers to the cross. Thus, proof of one is proof of the other. Moreover, proof that the bondage of sin was broken and men were fully justified in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ also proves that the Old Testament was annulled. As long as the Old Covenant was in force, men were under bondage to sin. But beginning with the gospel, forgiveness of sins in the death of Christ was announced. It thus follows that the Old Testament was not in force or effect from and after Jesus’ cross. Reduced to a syllogism, the argument might be expressed thus:

The way into the Holiest was not open while the first tabernacle (the Old Testament) had legal standing (Heb. 9:8).

But the Holiest was a figure for the New Testament (Heb. 9:9).

The New Testament became of force at Jesus’ death (Heb. 9:17). Therefore,

The way into the Holiest was opened and the Old Testament (first tabernacle) lost legal standing in Jesus’ death.

Moreover, we have shown that it is impossible for there to be two concurrent, conflicting covenants in force at the same time. Therefore, proof that the New Testament was of force, ipso facto proves that the Old Testament was annulled. To the many verses we have already produced demonstrating this fact, we would add that Dan. 9:27 states that the “sacrifice and oblation” would cease in the midst of the final prophetic week, and that this is traditionally held to signify the legal cessation of the temple ritual by the death of Christ at the conclusion of his three and half year ministry:

On the ordinary Christian interpretation, this applies to the crucifixion of our Lord, which took place, according to the received calculation, during the fourth year after his baptism by John, and the consequent opening of his ministry.”[1]

 

Thus, proof that the power of sin was broken and men were justified after the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, also proves every other element of my proposition, all of
which we have already abundantly demonstrated in the course of our negatives. Therefore, we need not say or produce one proof more. Our proposition stands confirmed:

The coming of Christ for salvation from sin was accomplished in the cross at the termination of the Mosaic covenant.

However, since we promised that we could produce pages of verses showing that grace and full and free, and that the Old Testament was therefore legally annulled and taken out of the way at the cross, we will produce some of those now and then lay down our pen. The following are by no means exhaustive; many more could be produced. Don ignored all the verses we produced before. Perhaps he would grace us with his attention to them now. If not, we will consider Don to have surrendered his position and this debate concluded in favor of Christ’s cross.

Romans

1:5 – “By whom we have received grace.” Note the verb tense “have received.”

1:7 – “Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The gospel of Christ’s cross places man in a state of grace and peace with God. AD 70 is nowhere in sight.

1:1, 15 – “I am ready to preach the gospel (glad tidings)” The tidings are gladsome because they carry the present assurance of grace. Proof that the gospel was valid ipso facto proves the Old Testament was invalid.

1:16The gospel “is the power of God unto salvation.” The gospel is the offer of reconciliation.

Since the gospel was in force, the power of salvation and reconciliation were also in force. Not once verse can be produced showing the saints had to wait until AD 70 to be justified.

1:17In the gospel “is the righteousness of God revealed.” The gospel is the revelation of God’s justification of man in the atoning sacrifice of Christ.

3:21“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested.” The Greek for “righteousness” is dikaiosune or “justification.” The gospel is God’s justification of sinners. Paul says the justification was “now” manifested. This “now” manifestation of justification was also the manifestation of the way into the Holy of Holies (Heb. 9:8), for the one assumes the other.

3:24“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” The verb tense shows that the saints were in a present state of justification and redemption.

3:26“To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” Paul here specifically states that God’s justification of man was available “at this time” (e.g., it was not postponed to AD 70).

4:24“But for us also, to whom it [righteousness/justification] shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.” Paul here states that justification is imputed to all who believe. Again, no postponement until AD 70.

4:25“Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification [Gk. dikaiosin].” Christ’s resurrection is proof that Jesus was acquitted from the imputation of sin he bore upon the cross. But if Jesus died under imputation of sin, and was raised justified, then the blood of his sacrifice was received within the Holy of Holies before his ascension, which can only mean that God received it at Jesus’ death. The veil of separation was therefore “rent in twain” when Jesus died, showing the way into God’s presence was now open.

5:1 – “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

5:2 – “By whom we also have access by faith into this grace wherein we now stand.” Here Paul affirms that the saints “now stand” in a state of grace through the cross of Christ.

5:9 – “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” Notice the verb tense,
“being now justified.” What part of “now justified” would Don deny?

5:10“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, we shall be saved by his life.” Note the verb tense, “were reconciled.” By what, the removal of the law as asserted by Don? No! By the death of Christ.

5:11“And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” HAVE NOW RECEIVED THE ATONEMENT. Don, which part of “now received” would you deny?

5:14 – Adam was a “figure of him that was to come.” Here, Paul shows that it was in Christ’s first coming that humanity began anew (for those that believe), not his second coming.

5:15“But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.” Paul states “grace hath abounded,” perfect tense, showing completed action in the past.

5:17“They which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life.” Paul joins “abundance of grace” with the “gift of justification” and makes both the present possession of the church.

5:20“But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” The Greek here actually reads “grace super-abounded” over sin and the law. This verse completely overthrows “Covenant Eschatology,” by showing that grace triumphed over the law and did not need to be separately removed.

6:7 – “He that has died is freed from sin.” The Christian “dies” with Christ in baptism; he is made a participant in Jesus’ death, and is thus “freed from sin.”

6:14“Ye are not under law, but under grace.” What part of “not under law” would Don deny?

6:15“We are not under the law, but under grace.” NOT UNDER THE LAW, BUT UNDER GRACE.

6:18“Being then made free from sin.” Don, what part of “free from sin” would you deny?

6:22“Being made free from sin.”

6:23“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” In Rom. 5:15, 17, Paul says the saints had received the “gift” of justification and life in Christ. Here he says that eternal life was also the present gift of God by acquittal from the debt of sin under the law.

7:1-4 – “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ.” Don ignored these verses before. They teach that the law of the first husband (Old Testament) terminated with the death of Christ, so that we might enter a new covenant (the gospel). These verses teach the same lesson as those in Heb. 9 regarding the way into the Holiest by the sacrifice of Christ. The one covenant ends where the other begins.

7:6 – “But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held.” Note the verb tense: NOW DELIVERED FROM THE LAW.

7:25“I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord” [for deliverance from bondage to sin and death.]

8:1 – “There is now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” NOW NO CONDEMNATION. What part of “now” would Don deny?

8:2 – “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” HATH MADE ME FREE FROM THE LAW. Perfect tense, completed action in the past.

8:3, 4 – “God condemned sin in the flesh [of Christ] that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us.” By Jesus’ death, the law of sin and death was satisfied that God might acquit us.

8:30“Whom he called, them he also justified.”

10:4 – “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness for every that believeth.” END OF THE LAW.

Hebrews

1:3 – “When he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Note the verb tense “had purged our sins.” Perfect tense, showing completed action in the past. Christ “sat down” also shows the work of redemption was complete.

2:11“For both he that sanctified and they who are sanctified are all of one.” ARE SANCTIFIED.

2:14, 15 – “Through death he might deliver them.” It was in Jesus’ death that man was saved, not his second coming.

2:17“Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren…to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” Reconciliation was made in Jesus’ death, not removal of the law.

4:16“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” This verse compliments Heb. 9:8; 10:19 which invite believers into the presence of God within the veil, showing they have been justified from sin.

6:19“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.” Entering the veil is predicated upon prior remission of sins.

7:12 – “For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.” Here the fact of Christ’s priesthood is offered as proof that the law had been changed, for it is impossible to have two conflicting priesthoods both legally valid at the same time.

7:18“For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.” Here the commandment (Old Testament) is expressly stated to have been annulled.

7:19 – “For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did, by which we drawn nigh unto God.” MADE PERFECT, BY WHICH WE DRAW NIGH TO GOD. What part of “made perfect” would Don deny?

8:6 – “But now he hath obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much more he is the mediator of a more excellent covenant.” A MORE EXCELLENT COVENANT. The New Testament supplanted the Old; the two could not be valid simultaneously. Christ’s priesthood replaced the Levitical priesthood, and his Testament replaced the Old.

8:12“I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” This is the promise of the New Testament. The testament became of force at Jesus’ death (Heb. 9:17), therefore forgiveness of sins became of force at his death as well.

9:8 – “The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest was not yet made manifest, while as yet the first tabernacle was yet standing.”

No man could enter the Holy of Holies until the atonement was complete.

But the Holy of Holies was a figure for the New Testament and gospel.

The New Testament was of force from and after the cross. Therefore,

The atonement was complete and man could enter (legally and covenantally) the Holy of Holies from and after the cross.

9:12“Having obtained eternal redemption for us.” Perfect tense, showing completed action in the past.

9:15 – “He is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” This verse plainly shows that the New Testament was then in force and provided redemption that could not obtain as long as the Old Testament was valid.

9:17“For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all.” The New Testament supplants the Old; both cannot be valid at the same time.

9:26“But now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Christ’s first appearance dealt fully and completely with the problem of sin by Christ’s sacrifice. Thus, the coming in Rom. 11:25-27 being to save from sin, was clearly Christ’s first coming.

10:9 – “When he said, Lo, I come to do they will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.” Here we see that the first covenant was taken away at Christ’s first coming, not second. The first had to be taken away that the second (New Testament) could be established. Why? Because it is impossible both be valid at the same time.

10:10“By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” The “will” here is the New Testament, by which are sanctified through the offering of Christ. The passage is in the present tense, showing present sanctification.

10:12 – “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat sown on the right had of God.” That Christ “sat down” shows his work of atonement was complete.

10:14“For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” Note the verb tense, HATH PERFECTED FOREVER.

10:17“Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”

10:18– “Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.” The writer’s point here is to show that Jesus’ sacrifice totally supplanted the temple ceremony, so that there was no other offering for sin.

10:19“Having, therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.” The whole point of this verse is to show that because they had been perfected by Christ’s sacrifice, the saints can now enter the presence of God legally and covenantally through Christ.

10:22“Let us draw near in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience.” “Sprinkling” the conscience here signifies the removal of guilt, by which we are emboldened to enter the presence of God.

10:29“The blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified…the Spirit of grace.” The verb tense here shows that the saints were already sanctified by Jesus’ blood and the Spirit of grace.

12:7, 8 – “God dealeth with you as with sons.” Sonship is predicated upon reconciliation and atonement. Under the Old Testament men were deemed servants (Gal. 4:7; Rom. 8:15); but under the New Testament we received the adoption of sonship. This shows that the atonement has been made and that the Old Testament of servitude was annulled.

12:15“Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God.” Grace is the very essence of the New Testament and is predicated upon Jesus’ atoning sacrifice. Grace was already arrived when the gospel began to be preached on Pentecost after Christ’s ascension.

12:18“For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, etc.” Here the writer explicitly states that believers had left the Old Testament economy typified by Sinai and were come to the New Testament economy typified by Zion.

12:22“But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.” This verse is offered to prove that the time of our estrangement and banishment from God was over and the saints were now admitted (legally and covenantally) into the presence of God in the heavenly Zion.

12:23 – “To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.” SPIRITS OF JUST MEN MADE PERFECT. Notice that God “the Judge of all” is joined by the writer to the justification of spirits in Hades. Thus, God had acquitted them based upon reception of Christ’s blood. The saints on earth were numbered in the assembly of those justified.

12:24“And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” Abel was the first martyr, but his blood could not extinguish the debt of sin. Jesus was also a martyr, but his blood brought atonement. The passage shows that the sprinkling and thus the atonement were present realities.

13:10“We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.” The “altar” is Christ’s sacrifice. We “eat” from that altar probably the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, which Paul teaches is a participation (“communion”) in the body and blood (sacrifice) of Christ. Christians had an altar that unbelievers had no right to approach. The validity of the one altar implies the invalidity of the other.

13:20, 21 – “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in ever good work.” The resurrection of Christ assumes his justification from the imputation of sin he bore upon the cross. We participate in Jesus’ death through baptism (Rom. 6:3-6). Therefore, we are justified in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. The blood of the everlasting covenant makes perfect all who are in covenant relationship with God.

I Peter

1:2 – “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.” Peter here assures the Gentile believers in Cappadocia and the area of the Black Sea of their sanctification by the sprinkling of Jesus’ blood, and the grace attending their adoption of sonship by God.

1:3 – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” The verb tense here is perfect, showing completed action in the past. “Hath begotten us again.” The new birth is predicated upon reconciliation and atonement. The resurrection of Christ is proof that justification was a present fact.

1:18, 19 – Ye were redeemed by “the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” Verb tense shows present possession of redemption. What part of “were redeemed” would Don deny?

1:22 – “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth.” Perfect tense, showing completed action in the past. HAVE PURIFIED by obedience. (So much for “faith alone.” Man must obey if he would be purified from sin.)

2:10“Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” HAVE NOW OBTAINED MERCY.

2:24“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that ye, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” Perfect tense, completed action in the past.

3:18“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” This bringing to God implies our entrance within the veil, washed and made pure by the blood of Christ. His resurrection is evoked in token of our justification from sin.

3:21“The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us…by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Here, baptism is analogized to the waters of Noah by which the believing were saved. Peter makes Jesus’ resurrection the power that gives the sacrament and ordinance of baptism effect; viz., the blood of Christ received within the veil at Jesus’ deat
h made the atonement and justified him from the imputation of sin, so that his resurrection stands in power and evidence of the atonement in which believer’s share.

II Peter

1:2 – “Grace and peace by multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.” Grace is the state of present reconciliation.

1:9 – “And hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.” Past tense – was purged from his old sins. When? AD 70? No, AD 33 at the cross.

I John

2:2 – “He is the propitiation of our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” The word “propitiation” here is actually “mercy-seat” and shows that Jesus’ sacrifice enters within the veil, coving the debt of sin by the law.

2:12“Your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.” AD 70? No, AD 33.

Galatians

Gal. 2:4 – “Because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that hey might bring us into bondage.” The Judaizers, like Don, claimed that the law was still binding, but Paul told the church not to submit to obey its demands.

Gal. 2:9 – “For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.” By Christ’s atoning sacrifice, we are redeemed from the law and become dead to its demands.

2:21“I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” Here Paul shows that grace was the present possession of the church and that submitting to the law (which Don says was still obligatory) would frustrate God’s grace.

3:13“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” Note the verb tense, “hath redeemed.”

3:25“But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” The law was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. Paul says the church was no longer under the law once the gospel arrived.

5:1 – “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” If the law was valid as Don alleges, then Paul was under serious misapprehension of the facts.

5:18“But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” NOT UNDER THE LAW. If Christians were already delivered from the law, then the salvation from sin contemplated by Rom. 11:25-27 was clearly tied to the cross.

Colossians

2:9, 10 – “For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.” “Complete” here has the sense of soteriological perfection. In Christ the saints were complete, lacking nothing to make them acceptable for salvation. And when were they complete? At AD 70? Of course not. They were complete from and after the cross.

2:13“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of you flesh hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.” HAVING FORGIVEN ALL TRESPASSES. When, AD 70? No! The Cross!

2:14 – “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to the cross.” The “handwriting of ordinances” here is not the Ten Commandments as is commonly supposed, but a memorandum, like a mortgage, reciting our debt before the law. When a man paid off his debt, it was nailed to the post of his door, providing public evidence that he was freed of his former obligation. So here, Paul says C
hrist carried the debt of our sin to the cross, nailing it there, showing publicly its cancellation in his death. If Don were permitted to have his way, we would have to rewrite this verse so that the debt was nailed to a Roman catapult in the siege of AD 70!

2:15“And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it [his cross].” The principalities and powers Christ triumphed over were the very power and dominion of sin and death themselves. The sting of death was sin and the strength of sin was the law (I Cor. 15:56). Christ triumphed over the law, spoiling the strong man of sin in his substitutionary death and atoning sacrifice. He did not take the law away (the moral law still exists and condemns our sins as much as ever). Rather, he triumphed over it by bringing in his all sufficient grace.

Don’s Empty Boxes

The reader will recall that we challenged Don to produce verses showing that the saints were under the debt of sin until AD 70 and gave him a box to put the verses in (Box No.1). Don could not produce even one verse. We then added a box challenging Don to produce even one verse that showed the law was binding until AD 70 (Box. No. 2). Again, Don could not produce even one verse. We then asked him to produce even one commentator that agreed that Isa. 27:7-11 referrred to the AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem. Again, nothing. Finally, we challenged him to produce even one verse showing that the saints received justification from sin in AD 70. Still nothing. We on the other hand have now produced about nine pages of verses. Probably nine more could be added.

Don’s Box No. 1

Verses?

Don’s Box No. 2

Verses?

Don’s Box No. 3

Commentators?

 

 

Don’s Box No. 4

Verses?

 

 

In school sports, when one team cannot even get on the score board and the other has 7 touch-downs, the referee calls the game as a matter of good sportsmanship. That is what needs to happen here. Since Don has no verses, not even one, we feel there is no point in pursuing this discussion further. Don must directly refute each verse we have produced, or we will “call the game” and consider this debate over.

Conclusion

Scripture abundantly testifies to the fact that atonement was complete and justification full and free from and after Jesus’ cross. But if salvation from sin arrived at the cross, then the coming of Rom. 11:25-27 was Christ’s first coming. And if men could enter a state of grace from and after the cross, then the New Testament became of in force, and the Old Testament annulled in Jesus’ death. Covenant Eschatology is a system of error that denies Jesus’ cross.


[1] J. E. H. Thomson, Daniel – The Pulpit Commentary (Hendrickson, Peabody, MA), p. 275.


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