Hicks -V- Preston Debate on the Coming of the Lord – Hicks’ 3rd Affirmative

Olan Hicks – Third affirmative
Don began his second affirmative with a complaint, telling us most emphatically that the negative in a debate is obligated to reply to the arguments of the affirmative. Well, where is that idea now? Why does he not respond to my affirmative? When I presented my first affirmative, in his first “negative” he just continued to repeat his earlier arguments that we had already discussed when he was in the affirmative. In my second affirmative I reminded him that we had already discussed his arguments and now I am in the affirmative and we are discussing the scriptures and I invited him to join us in that discussion. Apparently he is not willing to do that. He is only willing to promote his theories. His second “negative” does the same thing. It is not a negative at all. It is another affirmative, repeating his arguments, ignoring my affirmative, and asking a long series of questions. Then he claims he has “trapped” me. It seems he doesn’t know the difference between a theory and a Bible statement.

Frankly Don, I think you need to do some thinking about our obligations. We were invited to present our divergent views on this list so that the readers could see the two concepts placed in open contrast with each other. It was understood that we would disagree, but in a gentlemanly way. Your obsession with trying to get some kind of strategical advantage and push your theories down everyone’s throat does not make for a wholesome discussion. Your constant complaining and trying to make yourself judge and jury is not interesting nor educational, such as saying that my presentation is the worst you ever saw. Each of us is obligated to simply present his views and his reasons for believing it, and let the readers judge for themselves which concept is most accurate.

Before I proceed with my third affirmative I will illustrate how fallacious his arguments are so everyone can see it. I will use two examples from his last essay, one near the first of it and the other near the end. He said, “Specifically identify  the city “where the Lord was slain” in Revelation 11:8. Well, Olan claims- with no proof- that “the city where the Lord was slain” is a symbolic statement. (Did he “SPECIFICALLY IDENTIFY” the city? NO! Come on, Olan, tell us, SPECIFICALLY, what city was that? Do not fail to answer!)”

Isn’t that remarkable? Don has a theory about everything. My reply was that Bible statements tell us He was crucified outside Jerusalem. We don’t have to guess about it. But Don, by virtue of his theory, knows otherwise.

And then near the end of this essay he said, “1 Corinthians 15 is about the fulfillment of God’s OT promises to Israel after the flesh. Until those promises were fulfilled, all of the Law of Moses will remain valid (Matthew 5:17-18). Paul emphatically posits the resurrection at the end of Torah.”

Talk about “pontificating!” The first thing Paul says at the start of that chapter is that he was declaring to them “the Gospel.” But Don says No, it “is about the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel after the flesh!” This illustrates my point. His arguments are all totally theoretical and in most cases contradict Bible statements. His theories, of course, are not confirmed by inspired statements. What answers one of them answers them all. They are wrong because the resulting conclusions contradict the inspired writers of scripture. Jesus and the apostles knew the OT prophecies and they were guided by the Holy Spirit to see the truth. Their descriptions of what these events would consist of is correct. When Don’s theory contradicts them that is proof that he is wrong.

But I am in the affirmative and I will affirm. I believe our readers want Bible proof, what the word says about a viewpoint, in this case mine. My proposition is, “The Bible teaches that the second coming of Christ will be in person, visible to all, accompanied by the resurrection and judgment, and will occur at the end of the world.”  The only way I have to know any of this is because the Bible says it. My obligation is to show where the Bible says this and Don, since he signed to deny it, is obligated to show why we should not believe it. Theory and assumed implications is not proof. I have placed each one of the statements in my proposition along side the Bible passages that expressly say it. The obligation of one denying it is to answer each one in turn,

We have discussed the weird theory that Jesus came in AD70 but no one has seen Him, the resurrection occurred but the dead are still in the graves, and the heavens and earth passed away but they are still here. This is foolish and self contradictory within itself. But it is seen to be incorrect by facts around us plus the fact that on each point there is a contradiction against expressly stated Bible facts. Don wants to keep wading around in his theory, what he assumes are inferences but cannot prove. Honest people want clear Bible confirmation.

By now the questions at issue here should be understood. We are discussing the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70 and the second coming of Christ, or “The day of the Lord.” Our central question is whether these are one single occurrence or two separate occurrences. Don contends that they are one and the same event and I contend that they are not the same event. What does the Bible say about it? Don’s conclusions are based on OT prophecies misinterpreted. He argues that some of the same things are said about both and that implies that they are the same event. One of these was “the avenging of the blood of the martyrs” and another was the judging of evil doers. My answer is that this is said of several events. In trying to show that the destruction of Jerusalem was the same as Christ’s return he offered only prophecies that say the destruction would happen. That is not our issue. The Jerusalem event did happen. But our issue is Was that the second coming, the only one that will ever be?

Each of these facts is stated many times, not just once, and in terms that are precise and explicit.

1. His return will be in person. Jesus said “I (personal pronoun) will come again” (John 14:3) and continued, “and will receive you to myself.” This is not symbolic. Paul confirmed it, “The Lord himself, (autos ho kurios)  (literally ‘Himself the Lord’) will descend from heaven with a shout…” (1 Thess. 4:16) Paul wrote, “Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the savior, the  Lord Jesus Christ.” (Phil.3:20) The military attack on Jerusalem in AD70 was a totally different matter.

2. His return will be visible.  Acts 1:11 says explicitly that Jesus will return “in the same manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” Words could not say it more clearly. He was seen going up and He will be seen coming back. This is confirmed repeatedly in other Biblical mentions of it. For instance Hebrews 9:28 says that He was once offered for our sins and “to those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”  Again, words could not say it plainer. And again, “Behold He is coming with clouds and every eye shall see Him.” (Rev. 1:7) And there is Paul’s statement that “The Lord Himself will descend from heaven.” The military attack on Jerusalem in AD70 was a totally different matter.

3. His return will be accompanied by the resurrection and judgment. “The hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth, those who have done good to the resurrection of life and those who have done evil to the resurrection of condemnation.” (John 5:28-29) How much clearer could it be said? This is confirmed in many other passages. For instance, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one might receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether god or bad.” (2 Cor. 5:10) And again, “Because He has appointed a day in which He will judge he world in righteousness by that man whom He has appointed…” (Acts 17:31) “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God, and the books were opened, and the dead were judged out of the things written in the books according to their works.” (Rev. 20:12) The Bible says a resurrection and judgment will occur at His return. The military attack on Jerusalem in AD70 was an entirely different matter.

4. His return and all this will all occur at the end of the world. Scoffers will be asking “Where is the promise of His coming?” (2 Peter 3:3-4) Peter answers in verse 10, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, the elements will melt with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are in it shall be burned up.” Then Peter said that we look for a new heavens and a new earth where in dwells righteousness. Other passages confirm this repeatedly. For instance in Revelation 21:1 John saw “a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away and there was no more sea.” Paul told the Thessalonians that Christ would return “in flaming fire, taking vengeance on those who do not know God and who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thess. 1:7-8) His return will be at the end of the physical world. The military attack on Jerusalem in AD70 was a totally different matter.

In like manner. A preposterous distortion.
Don said, “The Greek term “in like manner” (hon tropon) is used of a metaphorical likeness, not a precise likeness, in virtually all of its occurrences (cf, Matthew 23:37– “as a mother hen gathers her chicks).  Ignored.

This is absolute nonsense. “tropon” does NOT mean a likeness, metaphorical or otherwise. It means “like manner” as it is translated in all versions I know of. In Matthew 23:37, which he cited, the manner is specified, the manner in which a hen gathers her chicks. It does not mean an appearance in the likeness of a chicken. It means the manner of gathering the chicks together. In the same way, in Acts 1:11, the manner is specified, the manner in which Jesus ascended up to heaven. It has nothing to do with what His physical appearance will be like. But Don takes off on a wild escapade about his appearance being as it was on the mount of transfiguration and asks a question about what kind of physical appearance Jesus will have.

I tell you this to illustrate once again the foolishness of which Don is capable. He is always claiming he has “proven” something when all he has done is run interference for Satan to keep people from understanding what God has said. As I have said before, the Bible is not complicated until men make it so with their unreasonable interpretations and theories. The statement that Jesus will come back in the same manner as He went up is simple enough in the ordinary meaning of words just as it is written in the text. It should be left that way. The same is true of all Bible statements. We are repeatedly warned in scripture that our thinking is not God’s thinking and that there is a danger of getting misled when we bring in human philosophical systems.

This illustrates the level of “reasoning” that thinks the phrase “avenging the blood of the martyrs” proves that the second coming of Christ is being spoken of in a given prophecy and “the punishment of disobedient people” implies the same thing. On the other hand my argument is that those things were said of many events in the past and they were not thereby linked together. Avenging the blood of “martyrs” was done often. For example it was why Saul was sent to destroy the Amalakites. The same motive was present in other battles also. Punishing the people’s disobedience was also something that occurred several times, being accomplished by bringing their enemies down on them. The Egyptian captivity and the Babylonian captivity are cases in point. So the use of these expressions is not conclusive proof of anything. When you consider the fact that “logic” is the only case Don has and this is the kind of “logic” it is, you see that his theory is a long way from being what the Bible teaches.

Two important messages from God.
Let’s get away from theorizing, trying to derive some coded message from the Bible, and just look at the facts as stated in the Bible in clear terms. When we do that we find two clear cut occasions, widely separated from each other, and two very clearly stated objectives. These two events are in the Bible for a reason. Each one illustrates something important. When we confuse the two and merge them together, as the AD70 theory does, we block that message and miss some vital truths that are there the way the Bible puts them forth, before human theory intervenes. These two events are predicted in the Bible and specifications are given as to what each would consist of. Each one illustrates an important truth about God. This is why they must not be distorted.

The event at Jerusalem in AD70 has a message. This was an occasion of God‘s vengeance upon Israel for persistent unfaithfulness. Jesus said they killed the prophets and “stoned them which are sent to her.” (Mat. 23:37) What the “vengeance” consisted of was the military force of their enemies being unleashed upon them. Jesus, in predicting this in Luke 21, said, “These are the days of vengeance that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” (vs. 22) What is the message for us? “Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God. Toward them which fell, severity, but toward you goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.” (Romans 11:22) Paul wrote that many other things which happened to the Israelites are our examples, “to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. (1 Cor. 10:6) So we have an illustration of the important truth that persistent unfaithfulness incurs the wrath of God.

The event that is the day of the Lord, “will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise and the elements will melt with fervent heat.” etc. Jesus said of this day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven but the Father only. The lame argument that we can know the generation without knowing the day or hour, is a fallacious attempt to skirt the truth. Jesus stated clearly that His meaning was it will be a surprise. “At an hour that he is not aware of.” (Vs. 50) Peter and Paul both used the phrase “as a thief in the night,” obviously indicating the same, an unexpected surprise. What is the message for us? There is an appointed day coming, the end of the world and the judgment. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”(2 Cor.5:10) “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and Godliness?” (2 Peter 3:11)

Each of these messages is very important. They are like book ends bracketing the reality of what God’s message of redemption is about.The first is that we have a relationship with God in this life and if we are not faithful to it we will face the wrath of God. The second is that an end to this life is coming and then a determination will be made as to where we will be for eternity. When these two events are so badly distorted that they are thought to be the same event and are thought to have already occurred, it is spiritual disaster.

Five clearly defined differences between the two events.
In my previous affirmative (second) I laid out the differences between the two events as stated in the scriptures, which Don chose to ignore. Difference #1 was the signs. In Matthew 24 Jesus specified several signs by which they could know of the approach of the Jerusalem event. In the same chapter He said of the passing away of the heavens and the earth that no one knows when that will be. Difference #2 was the kind of action. At Jerusalem it would be an attack by armies. At the second coming no armies are involved. Difference #3 was the purpose. The purpose of Jerusalem’s calamity was vengeance. The purpose of the second coming is to be to reward the servants of the Lord. (Rev. 22:12) Difference #4 is that when Jesus returns He will take His people up with Him. At the Jerusalem event no one was taken up. Difference #5 was in what remains after it happens. When it was over at Jerusalem the same world still remained. But when the Lord returns the physical world will end.

I would remind us that these are explicit statements in the Bible, They are not theories, inferences, or speculation. The signs Jesus specified are recorded in Matthew 24 and His statement that no one knows the time of the passing of heavens and earth is recorded there also. The other differences are stated equally clearly. We don’t have to rely on interpreting prophetic “clues” to know the truth about these matters. The Bible states them. To deny them is to deny the word of God. So you have to choose between God’s word and Don’s theories..

There is one hope:  Ephesians 4:4
Paul said to the Ephesians, “There is one body and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling.” The hope that Christians have always had is for a perfect life in an eternity with God in a better world, to be obtained when Jesus returns. But the AD70 doctrine bids to take that away. This is contradictory to the whole Bible, Od Testament and New. Paul phrased it this way: “Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and savior Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13) This is an occurrence that the AD70 doctrine says will never happen because it has already happened and it turned out to be only symbolic.

So the one hope of Christians is negated by that doctrine. But the Bible tells us that we must hold on to the one hope that Paul preached, as he spelled it out here. To the Colossians he said that they would be reconciled to the Lord “if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the Gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.” (1:23) Notice, Paul said this is the hope of the Gospel, not the hope of “Israel in the flesh.” And he said their reconciliation to God would be real IF they held steadfastly to that hope and be not moved away from it.

This also involves the “rest” that God has appointed for His people. Don gets all tangled up with persecutions  in the local problems at Thessalonica and asks me whether Jesus came to alleviate their particular circumstance. Although Don didn’t get it, I pointed out that the writer of Hebrews said at the return of Christ we will all get “rest” from our earthly problems. “Therefore since a promise remains of entering into His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.” (4:1) All earthly troubles will end in that rest. Thus Paul told the Thessalonians this is the “rest” they will receive, as we all will, when Jesus returns. “And to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels.” (2 Thess. 1:7) But Don theorizes that Paul was promising the Thessalonians a personal deliverance from their local persecuters and he wants me to identify when and how that was accomplished. What a mixed up, confused person!

Obsession with a theory about a past time, AD70, undermines the one hope that Christians have which is in the future, not in the past. This hope has been the heart of the Gospel from the start. Paul said there is ONE such hope and he urged the Colossians not to ever get separated from it. (1:23) As I pointed out in my fourth negative, people who lived at the time of the AD70 event, some of whom were personal pupils of the apostle John, did not see that event as a fulfillment of their hope in Christ. Prior to that time they held to the hope of Christ’s return to take them to be with God and Himself, and after that event they wrote about this same hope, saying the same things they had always said. I  quoted two of them, Ignatius and Polycarp, who urged people to keep their faith in what they had been looking toward, that He will come back and His promises will be fulfilled. There are no writings by anyone living at that time who said anything had changed. So, according to the Biblical accounts by Jesus and the apostles, and according to the testimony of those who lived at the time, the AD70 event was not the second coming, nor the resurrection, nor the passing away of the heavens and the earth. It was an appointed “days of vengeance” as Jesus said it was, (Luke 21:22) that came upon Israel because of persistent unfaithfulness. It was not His second coming nor any of the things that are appointed to happen at that time.

I have never enjoyed telling anyone that they are wrong. But I would not be a true friend if I did not put forth this truthful information about the AD70 error. A good many people are making the mistake of their life, not really realizing what they are doing, and I am not going to sit back and watch that happen and do nothing. I will say it as kindly as I can, but I will say it. This very mistake is condemned in the Bible in 2 Thessalonians 2, in 2 Timothy 2:16-18, and elsewhere. As I have said before, this theory is so contradictory to so much of what the Bible says, that one cannot believe it and also believe the Bible. Two opposites cannot both be right.

I have also said before that I am nobody’s judge. I am trying to be a helper to all truth seekers. My concern is as Paul said, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord we persuade men.” (2 Cor. 5:11) What did Paul want to persuade men about? He wanted to persuade them to be prepared to stand before the final judgment (verse 10) where he said we all must appear. People who believe that this judgment is already in the past will not be ready for it when it comes. When those books are opened, as John said they will be, and those books still say that the day of The Lord will come as a thief in the night in which this world will be destroyed, and you are insisting that no such day is coming, you will not be ready to give an answer. The truth on it has been clearly revealed, as I have cited here, and if you have rejected it you are not ready to stand before the judgment of the God who sent those scriptures.

So I plead with everyone to please reconsider. Look at what is repeatedly said, as we have quoted, and look at what you are accepting on the basis of theory and speculation. Paul said that many perish “because they did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved.” (2 Thess. 2:10) We cannot afford to have a closed mind. Our eternal destiny depends on being open minded to the truth. I sincerely hope I can help you with that.

Olan Hicks