Jackson- V – Preston Formal Written Debate
Topic: The Cessation of the Charismata
Preston’s Second Negative
Richard says that I addressed “only one” of his three arguments. Well, technically that may be true. However, as I noted, if the one argument that I did address is nullified, then his other two arguments are de facto falsified. If we are not in the last days, then the signs (which per Richard) belong to the last days, do not follow the believer. If we are not in the last days then the charismata do not accompany the preaching of the gospel. (More on this below) The identity of the last days is the fundamental key to Richard’s entire theology, and he has not denied that.
Richard says that I did not follow him. Not true! He introduced, for instance, 2 Thessalonians 1 as an argument that Christ must appear literally, visibly and bodily in the future. With careful exegesis I demonstrated that Richard’s argument is false. What did Richard offer as rebuttal? Not one word! Furthermore, he offered his foundationally important argument on the last days, and I offered two full pages demonstrating from Deuteronomy 32 and the NT use of that prophecy, that Israel’s consummative last days were in the first century, and ended in AD 70. Again, he wrote not a word on Deuteronomy 32! Yet, Richard says I did not follow him!
Richard says there will be other occasions for he and I to discuss “radical imminence.” That is fine. I propose the following:
Resolved: The time statements of the nearness of the coming of the Lord and the end of the age (i.e. at hand, quickly, shortly, this generation, etc.) must be taken literally to indicate that the coming of the Lord and the end of the age was to occur in the first century, i.e. in the fall of Jerusalem (AD 70).
Affirm: Don K. Preston
Deny: Richard Jackson
Antithetically, I propose the following:
Resolved: The time statements of the nearness of the coming of the Lord and the end of the age (i.e. at hand, quickly, shortly, this generation, etc.) are not to be taken literally to indicate that the coming of the Lord and the end of the age was to occur in the first century, but, can be indicative of and inclusive of long periods of time (so far 2000 years).
Affirm: Richard Jackson
Deny: Don K. Preston
Richard, feel free to amend my suggestion for your affirmative to better express your view of those time words. But, I will await your response to the proposal. Now, since Richard says that we will and can discuss this important issue, here is his opportunity.
The fact is that in my affirmatives, when Richard was supposed to follow me, I repeatedly appealed to the undeniable first century nearness of the parousia, he refused to follow me! I offered extensive argumentation on Luke 21:8, and he offered not a word– while in the negative– to rebut my argument. But now, he insists that I follow him.
Richard’s Second Affirmative
I want the readers to ask yourself: what text did Richard exegete in his second affirmative? What text did he critically analyze with solid hermeneutic? Answer: none! What we have in Richard’s second is nothing but ad hominem arguments based on presuppositional theology. Because the world has not seen the parousia in the manner and nature expected by Richard, then the end of the age did not come! But, misguided and unrealistic expectations are what put Jesus on the cross and led to the rejection of the kingdom in the first place! Consider the following.
John 6:15– Richard tells us that Jesus came to re-establish the nationalistic kingdom of David. And, that is the kingdom Israel longed to have. Well, in John 6:15 the Jews offered that kingdom to Jesus! What was his response: “When he perceived that they were about to come and make him king, he withdrew himself.” Now, folks, if Jesus came to offer the kingdom that the Jews wanted, and if the Jews wanted the kind of kingdom that Jesus came to offer, why did Jesus reject their offer?
Here is the indisputable fact: The Jews did not reject Jesus’ offer of the kingdom until Jesus had first rejected their offer of the kingdom. Yet, Richard says we must yet have the very kind of kingdom that Jesus rejected!
The fact is that Jesus rejected the offer of a nationalistic kingdom because he knew that from the very beginning, a physical king on a physical throne was an act of rebellion against his Father (1 Samuel 8:6-9): “They have not rejected you, but they have rejected me.” Samuel later reiterated what YHVH said: “You have today rejected your God, who Himself saved you out of all your adversaries and your tribulations, and you have said to Him: ‘No, but set a king over us!’” (1 Samuel 10:19). And when Samuel once again reiterated his charge, Israel admitted her sin in asking for a nationalistic king: “Is today not the wheat harvest? I will call to the LORD, and He will send thunder and rain, that you may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking a king for yourselves. So Samuel called to the LORD, and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel. And all the people said to Samuel, ‘Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins the evil of asking a king for ourselves.’” (1 Samuel 12:17-19). So, on three different occasions we have the divine testimony that a physical king on a physical throne was an act of rebellion against the Father!
Readers, do not fail to catch this! Dispensationalism demands that Israel once again have a nationalistic king, on a literal throne, although Jesus himself rejected that, and even though such a king was from the beginning an act rebellion against God.
In The Glory of the Father
My friend scoffs at the idea of Jesus’ coming “in the glory of the father” as being a non-literal, non-visible, bodily coming of Jesus. Well, let’s see.
Jesus said– the words are unequivocal– that he was coming in the glory of the Father. (Matthew 16:27).
Jesus likewise said that the Father had committed all judgment to the son, so that henceforth, the son would judge, and, the son would judge as he had seen the Father judge (John 5:19-23).
So, Jesus’ coming in judgment– Matthew 16:27– would be his coming in judgment as he had seen the Father come in judgment before.
So, Richard, had anyone ever seen the Father come out of heaven, literally, visibly, bodily, before? You know they had not! Furthermore…
The coming of the Lord in Isaiah 64-66 would be the coming of the Lord to bring in the New Creation.
But, the coming of the Lord of Isaiah 64-66 would be a coming of the Lord in the same manner as the Lord had come in the past. Read the words of Isaiah 64:1-3:
“Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! That the mountains might shake at Your presence– As fire burns brushwood, As fire causes water to boil––To make Your name known to Your adversaries, That the nations may tremble at Your presence! When You did awesome things for which we did not look, You came down, The mountains shook at Your presence.” (Notice the past tenses!)
Therefore, the coming of the Lord to bring in the New Creation– the coming of Christ in the glory of the Father, i.e. 1 Thessalonians 4; 2 Thessalonians 1; 2 Peter 3; Revelation 19-22– would be a coming of the Lord that was not literal, not visible, not bodily.
Now, unless Richard can demonstrate for us that prior to Isaiah 64 YHVH had, literally, visibly and bodily, descended out of heaven, to make the mountains dissolve and the nations tremble (literally now!), then we have prima facie demonstration that the coming of Christ– as foretold in 2 Peter 3 and Revelation 19-22 for instance, to bring in the New Creation in fulfilment of Isaiah 64-66, would not in fact be a lit
eral, bodily, visible coming of Christ out of heaven. That coming would be a manifestation of his sovereignty, just as his Father had manifested His sovereignty when He “came” many times in judgment of the nations.
Two Last Days?
Richard argues (as he must) that the Bible speaks of two last days periods. But, notice Richard’s dilemma. He says that the church (and thus the church age) was not foretold in the OT (we have definitively falsified this claim). This means that all references to the last days in the OT are references to Israel’s last days. This in turn means all references to the last days in the NT are references to Israel’s last days because remember, the NT writers tell us emphatically and unambiguously that they preached nothing but the hope of Israel found in the OT (Acts 24:14f; 26:21f)! You must not miss this!
Paul knew nothing of Richard’s theology that says that the hope of the church is not the hope of Israel and vice versa. He said that his one hope (Ephesians 4:4-5) was nothing different from, nothing other than, that found in Moses and the prophets. He said the gospel that he preached, he preached from the OT prophets (Romans 16:25f– a text Richard has ignored). Richard has tried desperately to deflect this irrefutable truth, but it cannot be negated. Notice my argument in succinct form:
Paul had one eschatological hope. (He did not preach one hope for the church and another for Israel. He knew nothing of one covenant for the church, and another for Israel).
Paul’s one hope was God’s OT promises made to Israel, and Paul said he did not preach anything different from the promises found in the OT Prophets (Acts 24:14-15; 26:6f; 21-23, etc.).
Therefore, when Paul spoke of the events of last days, he was speaking of the last days spoken of in the OT– which were exclusively God’s promises to Israel for her last days.
Since Paul said that he did not preach anything but the hope of Israel found in the OT, then when Paul spoke of eschatological events of the last days in Corinthians, Thessalonians 2 Timothy 3, or 2 Timothy 4, or any other of the other passages cited by Richard, he was drawing from, and speaking of, the hope of Israel found in the OT! He was not speaking of a different last days from that in the OT. This logically falsifies my friend’s contention that the Bible speaks of two last days periods.
This definitively answers Richard’s challenge for me to respond to the “characteristics” of the last days described in the NT. Richard cannot prove that the descriptions of the last days found in the NT speak of the last days of (or as) the Christian age– distinct from Israel’s last days– for Paul said his eschatology (his doctrine of the last days)– was nothing other than that found in the OT prophets. Thus, every passage that Richard brought forth to describe the last days, is a description drawn from the OT prophecies of Israel’s last days! And since those days were present in the first century, beyond the cross, this irrefutably proves that there was no 2000 year gap between Daniel’s 69th and 70th week. Israel’s last days were not postponed!
Don’t forget, that Richard has already insisted that the OT never predicted the Christian age! So, if the OT never predicted the Christian age, then the OT never predicted the current age as the last days. Coupled with the indisputable fact that we have presented repeatedly, that the OT references and predictions are taken directly from the OT– according to all the NT writers- this completely nullifies and falsifies my friend’s charismatic and dispensational theology.
Richard cannot argue that the OT foretold the Christian age as the last days, for this would be to surrender his view that the church was not foretold anywhere in the OT.
He cannot then claim that the NT speaks of two last days periods, i.e. Israel’s last days and then the Christian age as the last days, for again, the NT writers preached nothing but what was found in the OT prophecies to Israel. These facts are fatal to Richard’s paradigm.
Thirdly, as I proved in my affirmatives, the Christian age has no end! Richard essentially ignored this fact. And little wonder, for if he admits this for even one moment then his theology is falsified.
Fourth, in his first negative Richard admitted the following: “I understand that Jerusalem’s destruction in A.D.70 put a catastrophic end to what may be referred to as the Jewish Age…well put by Don when he says this historical event broke “…Israel’s power(and) her covenant relationship with God”(DP).
What is the point? Well, if Israel’s age came to an end in AD 70, then there is not another end to another last days of Israel! Israel only had one “last days” and one “end of the age” in prophecy, and Richard has admitted that was in AD 70! There is therefore, not another, yet future, end of Israel’s age, at the climax of her last days. Israel’s last days, and Israel’s age ended in AD 70.
Consider a bit more the identity of “this age” in light of Richard’s claims. In 1 Corinthians 2 Paul said: “We speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world (age, dkp) nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8 Which none of the princes of this world (age, aion, dkp) knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
Richard, who crucified the Lord? It was the Jews, was it not? They are the ones responsible for involving the Romans. That guilt fell squarely on them. But, this means that the Jewish authorities were “the rulers of this age” that Paul was speaking about. That completely rules out “this age” being the Christian age, does it not? Were (are) the Pharisees and Sadducees the rulers of the Christian age?
Finally, while I cannot develop it in-depth here, consider the following:
Point #1– The Jews (and Jesus and his disciples) knew of only two ages. They knew only of “this age” and “the age to come.”
Point #2– What the Jews called “this age” was the age of Moses, Torah and Temple. What they called “the age to come” was the age of Messiah and the New Covenant, i.e. the kingdom.
Point #3– The Jews believed– and Jesus and his disciples agreed– that “this age”– the age of Moses, Torah and Temple– was to come to an end. However, the age of Messiah and the New Covenant was to never end.
In light of these facts, notice that the disciples directly connected the desolation of the temple with the end of the age and Christ’s coming (Matthew 24:1-3). Richard, what age did that Temple represent? It most assuredly did not represent the New Covenant and the Christian age!
The disciples expected the end of the age and Christ’s parousia at the time of the desolation of the temple. Jesus did not correct them. He did not chide them for any misunderstanding. He answered their questions about signs of the end and said it would be in his generation. Incidentally, I have written an article on the question of whether the disciples were confused or wrong to connect the end of the age and the fall of Jerusalem. It is on my website: www.eschatology.org.
Think of the implications of this. If the disciples linked the fall of Jerusalem and the end of the age, and they did, and if the disciples were not mistaken, and they weren’t, then all futurist eschatologies, including Richard’s, are false! And of course, this means that the charismata ended in AD 70.
1 Corinthians 10:11– Notice some important facts:
Paul said that “the end of the ages” had arrived. He uses the word telos for end. This word not only indicated termination, but more significantly “goal.” He also says that the end or goal of the ages had arrived. The word for arrived is from katantao meaning the arrival to a destination. Here i
s what this means.
Richard says the church was not foretold in the OT. Thus, neither the church nor the church age could be designated, in anyway whatsoever, as the goal of the previous ages! It was / is, in fact, an interim age standing between the Old Covenant age and the true “goal of the ages.” This is clearly false in light of Paul’s emphatic statements.
Richard’s view that the OT never predicted or anticipated the Christian age is false in light of Paul’s affirmation that the goal of the ages had arrived. Paul affirmed that the church was the anticipated goal of the ages. My friend denies it. Reader, who is right?
Thus, the last days foretold in the OT were present in Paul’s day, and the day of the Lord–when the charismata would cease– was truly near.
Consider also that Christ appeared “at the end of the ages” (Hebrews 9:26). This end of the ages is the identical “end of the age” foretold in Matthew 13:43 and Matthew 24:3 (same distinctive Greek term). Now, clearly, Jesus did not appear at the end of the Christian age, or the end of time. He did appear in the last days however, the last days foretold in the OT (Hebrews 1:1)! Now watch…
Christ appeared at the end of the ages (the goal of the previous ages of 1 Corinthians 10).
But, the consummation of the age was to be at Christ’s coming “when the righteous would shine in the kingdom (Matthew 13:43).
The time when the righteous would shine in the kingdom would be at the time of the end foretold by Daniel 12:3-4.
But, the time when the righteous would shine at the time of the end (of Daniel 12:3-4) would be “when the power of the holy people is completely shattered” (Daniel 12:7– which Richard has admitted was AD 70)!
Therefore, the end of the age (the consummation of the ages of Matthew 13:43, Matthew 24:3) when the righteous would shine in the kingdom was when the power of the holy people was completely shattered in AD 70.
This definitively identifies the last days and the end of the age, and proves that the charismata ended in AD 70.
Let me now address Richard’s other points since he says I ignored them (Keeping in mind all of my arguments that he ignored). Just keep in mind that Richard’s points #2-4 are all moot if we are not in the last days. Notice that Richard did not deny this, and he will not deny it. It will do him no good to insist that I respond in depth to points 2-4, for again, if we are not in the last days, those points are falsified. Nonetheless…
These Signs Shall Follow Them That Believe
Let me reiterate my main point: If the last days were the last days of Israel (not the church age), and if the last days were present in the first century, then the end of the age was truly near, and Richard’s other arguments are null and void. Richard’s entire theology stands or falls on the issue of the last days. All of his other arguments are totally dependent on this single argument. Nonetheless, since he complained that I did not address his other arguments, let me say a few things. Richard argued that the charismatic signs were to follow believers until the end of the age. I agree. However…
The charismatic signs would follow believers during the last days, until the coming of the Lord at the end of the age.
But, the last days were present in the first century and the coming of the Lord at the end of the age occurred in AD 70.
Therefore, the charismatic gifts of the Spirit ended at the end of the last days at the coming of the Lord at the end of the age the age in AD 70.
Richard’s argument is anachronistically applied, and is therefore, false.
Signs Shall Accompany the Great Commission
Richard’s argument is this: The charismatic gifts would empower the church to fulfill the great commission until the mission was fulfilled. I agree, in principle with this argument. It is just that Richard has, once again, made an anachronistic argument. Here are Jesus’ words: “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached to all the world, as a witness to the nations, and then comes the end” (Matthew 24:14). The problem for my friend’s position is that the great commission was fulfilled in the first century, before the end of the age in AD 70.
In my book Into All the World Then Comes the End, I demonstrate that every single Greek word that is translated as world, earth, nations, etc. in Jesus’ predictions and command to preach the gospel into all the world, earth, nations, every creature, etc. is used by the apostle Paul to say that the gospel had been preached to all the world, earth, all the nations and every creature!
Jesus said preach the gospel to all the nations (ethnoi, Matthew 24:14; 28:18) in all the world (Matthew 24:14, oikoumene) to every creature (ktisis) in all the earth (ge, Acts 1:8), or world (kosmos, Mark 16:15)
Paul said the gospel had been preached to and was bringing forth fruit in all the world (kosmos, Colossians 1:5f). The gospel had been preached to all men (Titus 2:13f). The gospel had gone into all the earth (ge), and to all the world (oikoumene, Romans 10:18). Furthermore, he said the gospel had been preached “to every creature (ktisis) under heaven” (Colossians 1:23).
All of these affirmations of the completion of the Mission were written before AD 70. And, in direct conjunction with these affirmations of the completion of the world mission, we find the declaration of the nearness of the end! Paul said, “And now, knowing the time, it is high time to awake of sleep, for now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the Day is at hand…” (Romans 13:11f).
So, Jesus said that the charismatic gifts of the Spirit would accompany the disciples as they preached the gospel to all the world. When the gospel had been preached to all the world, the end would come. And keep in mind that “the end” in view is the end that the disciples linked with the destruction of Jerusalem. The early church preached the gospel to all the world in the first century, and they said the parousia was coming “in a very, very little while” (Hebrews 10:37), and “the end of all things has drawn near” (1 Peter 4:7). This was all before the fall of Jerusalem.
Thus, Richard’s point is valid when properly considered. However, it is anachronistic. It ignores the first century fulfillment of the Great Commission before the end of the age in AD 70. And, it extrapolates the last days beyond its designated terminus in AD 70.
Let’s look now at Richard’s #4– “BELIEVERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO BE ‘FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT’ WHICH IS ONE OF THE WAYS IN WHICH GOD SUPERNATURALLY EXPRESSES HIMSELF IN THE CONTINUING LIFE, WITNESS, & MINISTRY OF THOSE WHO BELIEVE.”
1.) I do not deny that the first century saints were encouraged to be filled with the Spirit.
2.) What I am affirming / denying is that the saints today are to be filled (charismatically) with the Spirit, because we are not in the last days.
3.) It is not proper hermeneutic for Richard to ignore the chronological parameters clearly enunciated in the NT, that the end of the age was near.
4.) It is not proper hermeneutic for Richard to ignore the OT source of the NT predictions of the last days, and the NT application of those OT prophecies to the first century.
5.) It is not proper hermeneutic for Richard to ignore the fact that “that which is perfect” was to arrive, not at the end of the Christian age, but, at the end of the Old Covenant age, which he has already admitted occurred in AD 70 (cf. Isaiah 52– the time of the perfect, seeing “face to face,” is the time of seeing “eye to eye”).
WHERE ARE ALL THE GIFTS?
Richard argues that we need and should have the full complement of the charismatic gifts today. However, remember that Richard has admitted repeated
ly that we do not have inspired, infallible prophets living and operating in the church today. Why not, Richard? If the church should have the full complement of the gifts, we should in fact have “apostles, prophets, pastors, evangelists” (Ephesians 4:8-16) that are inspired and infallible in their doctrine.
Important: I am not speaking of their personal lives, nor am I suggesting that they would have to write scripture. I am however, insisting, as the NT teaches, that apostles, prophets, etc. were divinely inspired, and although they might not write a word of scripture, they could infallibly interpret scripture (Acts 15; 1 Peter 1:10-12) and, they could infallibly tell the future, e. g. Agabus, Acts 11). And let me take note that it will not help Richard to emphasize that this is not the traditional view of the churches of Christ. I am not concerned with defending the traditional church of Christ position on this issue. I am interested only in the truth of what scripture says.
Richard is assuredly correct to say that there are no such prophets or apostles alive in the church today, but of course, this admission is reveals the fallacy of his proposition.
Note that in Zechariah 13:2, YHVH said that the time was coming when the prophets would perish out of the land. They would cease to function. When would this be? It would be at the time when they would look on him whom they had pierce (Zechariah 12:10), which Jesus applied specifically to his generation and his coming in judgment of Jerusalem in AD 70 (Matthew 24:29-34). It would be the time when only a remnant of the people would survive (Zechariah 13:8f) and the Lord would come in judgment of Jerusalem (14:1-5).
Thus, we have an OT prophecy very specifically positing the time of the cessation of the charismatic gifts, specifically the prophetic office, at the time of the Lord’s coming in judgment of Jerusalem. Richard has agreed that the Lord came in judgment of Jerusalem in AD 70. He has admitted that Israel’s age came to an end at that time. He has admitted that we no longer have living inspired prophets. I suggest, as kindly but as firmly as possible, that this is definitive proof of my affirmative proposition (as already argued), and the total falsification of Richard’s theology.
So, if we do not have living, inspired apostles, prophets, pastors and evangelists, as Richard admits, then logically, to apply Richard’s argument, we have none of the gifts! After all, if is all or none!
Richard: My Eyes are Not Seeing What My Ears Are Hearing
Richard looks around him at the negative things in the world, and says “The kingdom could not have been established!” He sees the continuation of sin and corruption and says this proves Jesus is not the king over the world! (Of course, that kinda makes you wonder what Jesus meant in Matthew 28:18f does it not? “All authority has been given unto me in heaven and on earth.” That seems like total sovereignty to me!)
Richard is judging the kingdom through human standards, and refusing (failing) to view things as God sees them. But this has never been the way God has done things!
Richard wants Jesus to accept in the future, the very kind of kingdom that he rejected!
Richard fails to honor Jesus’ own words “The kingdom does not come with observation.” Richard wants a kingdom that has all the visible trappings of the nationalistic kingdom. This is not the kingdom Jesus came to establish. See 2 Corinthians 4:16-18– “We do not look at the things that are seen, but unseen…”
Richard fails to honor Jesus’ words: “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20f).
Richard fails to honor Jesus’ words: “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:35f).
Richard fails to honor Pau’s words: “Although we have known Christ after the flesh, from henceforth we know him no longer” (2 Corinthians 5:16).
Notice the following words: “Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.” (1 Corinthians 3:21-23).
Paul was writing to those who were in the kingdom of Christ. He said the world belonged to them! He said, “all things are your’s!” He said, “We are more than conquerors!” Now, to the visible eye– and from the perspective of Richard’s judgment of things– Paul must have been crazy! The Corinthians and Romans were persecuted, despised. They were hardly conquering anything! They were the off scouring of society because they were Christians! How could Paul say the world belonged to them? Couldn’t Paul see what a miserable mess the world was in?
Paul did not judge the existence or the nature of the kingdom based on what he saw with his physical eyes. He knew that the natural man judges things on one standard (what he sees or does not see); the spiritual man judges them based on what God says (1 Corinthians 2:6f).
Notice Luke 24:18ff. Two of Jesus’ disciples walk along discussing Jesus’ recent death. Unrecognized, Jesus joins them, and asks what they are discussing. Notice their words of despondency: “Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days? And He said to them, “What things?” So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel.”
There is no doubt that those disciples believed that Jesus’ death had postponed or destroyed their kingdom dreams. With all due respect to my friend, he today believes just like those two disciples! But, what was Jesus’ response to those disciples? Read what Jesus said: “Then He said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24: 25-27).
The dilemma for Richard is severe. He, like those disciples, believes that the kingdom offer had been either destroyed or at the very least postponed, because of Jesus’ death! They had a concept of the kingdom that matches the dispensational paradigm. But, Jesus said that concept was a violation of the prophets. He said that if they believed the kingdom plan had failed, that they did not understand the scriptures! I kindly and respectfully suggest that the modern dispensational paradigm is guilty of the same failure to understand the scriptures.
As long as we fail to see things through the eyes of God, and not man, we will fail to see that through his cross, Jesus won! He did not lose, and the cross was not, as Darby proclaimed, “The cross was the one grand demonstration—and there never was such a demonstration–that Satan is the prince and god of this world.” (J. N. Darby, Lectures on the Second Coming, (W H. Broom, Paternoster Row, 1868)31f). Contra Darby and dispensationalism, Paul exclaimed that through the cross, Christ, “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:15).
The cross postponed nothing. The cross was the pathway to the crown: “Ought not the Christ to suffer and to enter into his glory?”
Summary and Conclusion
So, all of my friend’s appeals to the verses that speak of the characteristics of “this age” fail to honor the actual texts. All of his appeals to look at the conditions of the world are merely ad hominem arguments that fly in the face of the nature of the kingdom as described by Jesus himself. All of his appeals for the establishmen
t of a nationalistic kingdom are falsified by Jesus’ own rejection of that kind of kingdom.
So, while Richard says I did not follow him, I have followed him, on every point! I have scrupulously demonstrated that the single most important point that he has raised, the identity of the last days, is false. I offered an extensive argument from Deuteronomy 32, but he ignored it.
Richard’s entire paradigm is built on his identification of the last days. However…
1.) Richard’s first point: The charismata would be manifested in the last days. True, but we are not in the last days.
2.) Richard’s second point, Signs were to follow the believer. True, but only during the last days. We are not in the last days.
3.) Richard’s third point: The charismata would accompany the preaching of the gospel into all the world. true, but the world mission was fulfilled in the first century and we are not in the last days.
4.) Richard’s fourth point: Believers were to be “filled with the Spirit.” True, but during the last days. We are not in the last days.
Do you see how fundamentally critical the identity of the last days is to my friend’s theology? Instead of focusing on the undisputed reality of what the Bible says of the charismata and believers, I would suggest that he focus on proving that the last days are still in existence. He can only do that by demonstrating the following:
A.) That the NT writers had an eschatological hope different from that foretold in the NT. In other words, he must prove that the NT prophecies of the end are not the OT prophecies of the end of the age. He cannot prove this, for as we have shown, the NT writers are emphatic that they had one eschatological hope, and that was the hope of Israel found in the OT prophets.
B.) Or, he must be able to prove that the OT actually foretold two different contrastive “last days” periods. Of course, if he did this, he would surrender the position he has already espoused, that the church age is not predicted anywhere in the OT. He cannot prove this.
I have responded to, and given rebuttal to each of my friend’s four points. I eagerly anticipate what my friend will now offer. But, he has but one presentation left in this discussion. He badly needs to offer the readers of this discussion some solid, logical, exegetical argumentation. So far, he has failed to do so.
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