Engaging the Critics

Response to Ronnie Wade- #3– What About Acts 1?

Responding to the Critics:
A Look At Ronnie Wade’s  Rejection of Covenant Eschatology #3
by Don K. Preston

This is the third in a series of articles responding to Ronnie Wade of Springfield, Missouri. Wade has written and lectured against Covenant Eschatology. He is considered by many to be an excellent and experienced debater. His real field of “expertise” is debating on whether or not there should be multiple cups used during the Communion service.

Recently Wade ventured into the field of eschatology to condemn Covenant Eschatology as heretical. As a result, I contacted him inviting / challenging him to debate me on the question of the coming of the Lord. Wade refused, stating that such a debate would be “unprofitable.”                             
Wade has produced an article setting forth his objections to Covenant Eschatology. Since he refused to debate the topic in formal public, or written, manner, I will offer in a short series of articles what Wade says by way of objection, and then offer my thoughts in response. This is my third in that series.

Wade says: “There are at least three passages that create real problems for the proponent of this theory.” Here is the first of what he considers problem texts for true preterists.

“Acts 1:9-11.  Note that Jesus shall come “in like manner” as he ascended.  In what manner did Jesus go into heaven?  He ascended in to heaven actually and personally.  Such phrases as “were looking”, “out of their sight”, “looking steadfastly into heaven”, and “beheld him” all indicate actual sight was involved on this occasion.  1 Thess. 4:16-17 teaches that this is the manner in which he will return.  Since Christ did not personally come in the events of His coming kingdom Mt. 16:28, the destruction of Jerusalem Mt.24:30, or in the defeat of the powers of Rev. 1:7, we can only conclude that his personal bodily return is yet future.”

Response:

I urge the readers of this article to search this website and you will find some great articles about Acts 1, all of which totally refute Wade’s objection.

Wade’s emphasis on “in like manner” betrays his lack of attention to the text, and to the use of the Greek term that is used. His argument is presuppositional in the extreme.

Wade’s argument is totally arbitrary and presuppositional. Notice that he says: “Since Christ did not personally come in the events of His coming kingdom Mt. 16:28, the destruction of Jerusalem Mt.24:30, or in the defeat of the powers of Rev. 1:7, we can only conclude that his personal bodily return is yet future.” Do you see what he has sone?

Wade has imposed a literalistic interpretation on the theme of the parousia. He sees the temporal parameters in the texts of Matthew 16, Matthew 24 and Revelation 1 that demand a first century fulfillment, but argues that since his concept of Christ’s coming did not occur in the time frame demanded by those contexts, that therefore those texts speak of a different coming from that in Acts 1, 1 Corinthians 15 and Thessalonians. His concept of the nature of the parousia is his guiding hermeneutic, not the actual wording of the texts.

What is Wade’s justification for delineating between the coming of Matthew 24 and Acts 1? Well, to reiterate, it is his presuppositional concept of the nature of the parousia. Note this.

Wade argues that Acts 1 is the same parousia as 1 Thessalonians 4. Okay, let’s take a look at this idea by comparing 1 Thessalonians with Matthew 24:29-31.

Matthew 24:29-31  —>  1 Thessalonians 4
Coming of Christ    —>    Coming of Christ
With the Angels    —>    With the Angels
With the trumpet —>   With the trumpet
On the clouds      —>    On the clouds
Gathering of the elect —>    Gathering of the elect
Resurrection (Matthew 24:31 is a citation of Isaiah 27:13 which is in turn a prophecy of the resurrection) —>   Resurrection
This generation shall not pass until all is fulfilled —->  We who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:15, 17).

Now, Wade and his amillennial fellows would cry “Foul” at this comparison, and yet, in formal public debates, when I have challenged my amillenial opponents to present their exegetical, contextual justification for such a delineation, not one of them has offered a word of proof. These comparisons have been totally ignored.

Now, remember that Wade affirms that Matthew 24:29f refers to Christ’s AD 70 coming in judgment of Old Covenant Jerusalem. The question is, what is the justification for saying that Thessalonians is a different coming, of a different nature, at a different time? What is the contextual justification for saying that the angels, the trumpets, the clouds, etc.  in Matthew are not literal, but that in Thessalonians, they are literal? See my book We Shall Meet Him In The Air, the Wedding of the King of kings, for a fuller exposition of the comparisons between Matthew and Thessalonians. There is no support for the idea that these are different comings of the Lord.

Notice also that Wade admits that Revelation 1:7 does not refer to a yet future coming of the Lord. Well, first of all, that puts him at odds with most of his brethren who do see Revelation 1:7 as referent to the second coming. Be that as it may, notice the following:

Revelation 1:7 is the coming of Christ at the end of the millennium, the coming of Christ in Revelation 19f.

The coming of Christ at the end of the millennium is the coming of Christ of Acts 1– Ronnie Wade would agree.

But, the coming of Christ at the end of the millennium, being the same coming as Revelation 1:7, was at hand and coming quickly (Revelation 22:10-12) when John wrote.

Therefore, the coming of Christ in Acts 1- being the same coming of Christ of Revelation 19f, the coming of Christ at the end of the millennium, was at hand and coming quickly (Revelation 22:10-12) when John wrote.

You see, it is bad hermeneutic to ignore all of the Biblical evidence in regard to Christ’s parousia. Ronnie Wade’s amillennial eschatology is, to say the least, confused and confusing. (In fact, the amillennialism of the churches of Christ as a whole is very confused, and without merit.) He seeks to isolate Acts 1 from the rest of the Biblical testimony about the nature and time of that event. He totally ignores the connections that are undeniable, as evidenced in the chart above.

It is wrong to isolate Acts 1 from the rest of that Biblical testimony. When we take a holistic approach to the Scriptures, we avoid the errors so evident in Wade’s approach. See my book Into All the World, Then Comes The End, for further study of Acts 1 and the Olivet Discourse. There is a pattern in Matthew 24 that is likewise found in Acts 1, and that pattern definitively proves that Acts 1 refers to the AD 70 parousia!

We will have more as we proceed.

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