Ed Stevens’ First Negative: Formal Debate on the AD 70 Rapture Theory
After four months of delay, Ed Stevens has finally submitted his first negative response to my first affirmative. On 3-11-19, I submitted my Second Affirmative. Unfortunately, Ed Stevens has informed me that he is too busy at the moment to review it. We can hope that the delay will not be long. In the meantime, here is Stevens first negative.
Preston-Stevens Rapture Debate
Stevens First Negative – March 6, 2019
MY PRAYER: Blessing and Honor, Glory and Praise be unto You, Oh Lord Most High! We exalt your Holy Name. We pray that this debate will bring glory and honor to You, and exalt your Truth above all of our feeble opinions. Please help us to express our differing views in such a way that Your Truth becomes clearly manifested to every truth-seeker who reads it. We pray this in the Name of Your Glorious Son, our God-Man in heaven, whose physical death on the Cross was our substitute sacrifice. May His Holy Name be blessed forever. Amen.
CBV = Collective (Corporate) Body View (Max King’s resurrection view) IBV = Individual Body View (preterist resurrection view)
DoA = Death of Adam
WSMHA = We Shall Meet Him in the Air, by Don K. Preston
I consider it a privilege and an honor to participate in this formal written debate with Don
- Preston. His reputation as a highly-skilled debater is well-known and well-deserved. And I greatly appreciate Don’s affirmation that he and I “are both full preterists,” especially since some of his CBV associates have called me a partial preterist. Don is right about that!
When Don and I collaborated to debate two Amillennialists in New York City (April 6, 2002), it was fascinating to watch as Don overwhelmed our opponents with negative arguments. Even when Don was allegedly on the affirmative, he was still dumping boatloads of negatives on those guys. I almost felt sorry for them. His strategy then, as it is here also, is to put his opponent on the defensive as quickly as possible, and then keep him there for the duration of the debate.
Don does not like to be on the defensive, and neither do I. Skilled debaters minimize the exposure of their view so that their opponents cannot easily see it, analyze it, and challenge it.
That may be why Don’s proposition statement seems so generic and bland. He alludes to the resurrection/rapture event in such nebulous terms (“restoration of fellowship”) that even a futurist could agree with it, except for its AD 70 timing. Thus, his proposition does not give me very much to negate.
However, Don is supposed to be on the affirmative, laying out his position clearly and comprehensively, and then defending it. Instead, the details and implications of his view remain mostly unstated and unclear, with much of his time spent trying to negate my view before I have even affirmed it. But I have no obligation to deal with his negative material until it is my turn to be in the affirmative.
And since Don did not give us very much information about his “collective body” view of the resurrection, bodily change, and rapture, it means that I will need to explain some of that here before attempting to negate it. So, let us begin:
What Should Don Be Affirming Here?
- Nowhere in his First Affirmative does Don explain and defend his “corporate body” (CBV) framework, even though his concepts of resurrection, bodily change, and rapture are built on that
- The closest he comes to mentioning his “corporate body” framework is when he refers to the restoration of fellowship between God and man as being the resurrection and rapture (points 11, 23). But he doesn’t explain his view that this “restoration of fellowship” was nothing more than a spiritual-only change of status for a collective body, and that it had absolutely nothing to do with the resurrection of individual disembodied souls out of Hades to receive their new immortal bodies and go to heaven where their fellowship with God was eternally restored.
- Both Don and I agree that Christ atoned for our sins, and reconciled to God all those who believe in Him. However, we disagree on how that reconciliation was accomplished by Jesus, and how it applies both to the first century saints and to us
- For instance, Don believes that the only kind of death that was both threatened and carried out against Adam “on the very day he ate” was spiritual-only death. He does not believe the threatened death included physical death in any sense. And since he does not think Adam died physically in any sense “on the day he ate,” he therefore teaches that Jesus did not die physically in order to overcome that spiritual-only Death of Adam. That is why he teaches that the substitutionary death of Jesus was spiritual-only, and that His physical death was not the substitutionary death. It is also why Don teaches that the blood shed for our forgiveness (Heb 9:22) was “not literal blood” (see paragraph #27 below).
- Furthermore, Don believes that Jesus divested himself of his individual flesh and bone human body at the ascension, and returned to his original unembodied glorious Logos form that He had before the incarnation. And he teaches that the individual flesh and bone human body of Jesus was destroyed (“completely consumed”) at the ascension, so that the only thing human about Jesus in heaven now is his memories of his incarnate life on earth. But Don’s “divest and destroy” doctrine necessarily implies that the individual “flesh and bone” human body of Jesus died twice – once on the Cross, and again when Jesus divested and destroyed it. James 2:26 says that “the body without the spirit is dead.” Thus, if Jesus separated himself (his soul/spirit) from his individual “flesh and bone” human body at the ascension (as Preston teaches), it means that His individual “flesh and bone” human body died a second time. But that contradicts Romans 6:9 which says that “Christ having been raised from the dead, is never to die again.”
- Don’s belief that Jesus no longer has his individual glorified human body in heaven after the ascension poses disturbing implications for our afterlife bodies. The dead who were raised out of Hades at the Parousia were supposed to get new immortal bodies just like Christ’s glorious body (1Cor 15), while the living saints were supposed to have their bodies changed to be like His individual glorious human body in heaven (Phlp 3:21; 1Jn 3:2). Thus, Christ’s individual glorified human body in heaven is the pattern for our afterlife bodies. If He no longer has his individual glorious human body in heaven, then we will not have individual glorified human bodies in our afterlife either. Therefore, Don’s “divest and destroy” doctrine robs us of our individual human bodily afterlife
- The nature of Christ’s individual body in heaven now, and the nature of our afterlife bodies are therefore directly related to the resurrection and rapture because they illustrate what kind of bodies the resurrected and changed saints received as they entered heaven at the resurrection and rapture. And the nature of their afterlife bodies helps define the nature of the resurrection and rapture events. Thus, I can understand why Don might have preferred to leave these two issues out of the discussion (see Don’s First Affirmative, point #2), because they
expose the devastating implications that his “divest and destroy” doctrine has upon the kind of body Christ has in heaven now, as well as the kind of bodies we will have in our afterlife.
- Moreover, Don denies that the first century living saints were changed into their new immortal bodies and taken to heaven at the Parousia (the rapture). He instead believes that those saints who remained alive at the time of the Parousia were still alive on earth after the Parousia, and that the only “change” or “transformation” they received at the Parousia was to share in a spiritual-only status change of the collective body. Don believes the collective body was composed of both dead and living saints, and that the resurrection/change of that collective body was a forty-year dying-rising process, rather than a one-time event at the Parousia. That gives us a glimpse at his concept of the resurrection and the rapture. Unfortunately, he did not explain any of this clearly in his First Affirmative, even though this is the place where he should have laid it out and defended
Don’s Proposition and Opening Statements:
- Don’s Proposition Statement: Except for the last clause which denies a removal of the living saints from the earth at the Parousia, I can totally agree with Don’s proposition statement as it is nebulously stated. However, when we discover what he actually means by those words, many questions and objections
- Don and I and all full preterists would agree that there was a “return of God to man, to dwell forever, reuniting heaven and earth in spiritual fellowship and life” at the Parousia. But we do NOT all agree on HOW those things were fulfilled in the experience of the saints who were alive on earth at the time of the
- For instance, Don denies there was a “departure or removal of the then living saints from the earth.” So, it is the NATURE of fulfillment that is under discussion here. HOW were these things fulfilled? Was it fulfilled in a spiritual sense only (as Don contends), or was there a literal experiential resurrection of dead saints out of Hades and a literal experiential bodily change and rapture of the living saints (Ed’s view)?
- Furthermore, Don’s concept of a spiritual-only nature of fulfillment of the resurrection and rapture is based on his presupposition that the Death of Adam (DoA) and the substitutionary death of Christ were spiritual-only. If his spiritual-only DoA presupposition is wrong, then his argument for a spiritual-only resurrection and rapture is also
- Don’s Opening Statements: In the last paragraph of his opening remarks, Don affirmed that “there was not a physical removal of the then living saints (living in AD 70) from the earth.” Notice the word “physical” here. He is imposing that idea upon my view. It is a misrepresentation. I do not affirm a “physical removal” of the pre-70 living saints. Instead, their mortal (physical) bodies were CHANGED into immortal bodies first before they were taken to heaven (1Cor 15:51-52; 2Cor 5:4; Phil 3:21; 1Jn 3:2). That change put them into the unseen realm with the resurrected dead saints. See my proposition statement for a clear explanation of this bodily change
Here is the plan we will follow
- First we will deal with the critical foundation of Don’s overall CBV framework, which is his spiritual-only Death of Adam (DoA) doctrine. Because the arguments in his first 38 points are based directly or indirectly on that spiritual-only DoA doctrine, I decided to address this issue first. And since many of his first 38 points contain strawman arguments or negative attacks on my view, instead of affirmative expositions of his own view, I will defer response to those matters until it is my turn to be in the affirmative. Furthermore, since Don has not presented his whole affirmative position on the “gathering” concept, I will not address points #39-51 until he finishes laying that out for us in his subsequent affirmatives. Points 52-60 are Don’s summary and concluding comments, which will be dealt with in my final remarks on pages 11-12.
First Things First!
- After Jacob worked seven years for the daughter of Laban, wedding night came. In the morning after, Jacob discovered that it was Leah and not Rachel (Gen 29). When Jacob complained about the bait and switch, Laban reminded him that it was not their custom to give their second-born in marriage before the firstborn. First things first!
- That is the way it is also in debates and apologetics discussions. Before the arguments can be formulated and critically analyzed, the underlying presuppositions have to be established. In this case, it means that before we can respond to Don’s arguments, we have to test the presuppositions upon which those arguments are
- In the first twenty pages of his WSMHA book, Don labors to point out that our eschatology (last things) cannot stand unless it is built on a solid biblical protology (first things). He goes further to assert that if our first things (our views on the Death of Adam) are “wrong,” then our last things (our eschatological views) will be “misguided.” Thus, we have to prove our protology first, before constructing our eschatology. First things first!
- And Don does not leave himself any wiggle room on this. On page 2 of WSMHA he states: “Examining the Presuppositions: The first thing we want to take a look at is the basic presupposition that lies behind the traditional interpretation of Thessalonians.” Don launches his attack on the futurist view by “examining their presuppositions first.” On page 3 Don claims that his spiritual-only DoA presupposition is “critical to understanding and interpreting 1Thessalonians 4,” and that a failure to accept his presupposition is a departure “from the proper foundation for Biblical ”
- Then on pages 4 and 20 of WSMHA, Don claims that if we wrongly identify the Death of Adam, we will automatically mis-interpret the story of redemption, wrongly construct our eschatological views, and wrongly identify the nature of the resurrection in the whole New Testament. He admits that “the implications of this study are profound.” Indeed they are! That is why we absolutely have to examine his DoA presuppositions first!
- All of Don’s arguments in his First Affirmative against the literal first century rapture spring from his collective body framework which is built on top of his spiritual-only DoA foundation. Before Preston started formulating those arguments, he should have taken the time to prove his DoA presupposition as true. He obviously did not do that. Apparently he expects us to give him a free pass on that. But that is not going to
- That is why this First Negative will laser-focus first and foremost on the DoA issue. It is the fundamental presupposition underlying Don’s CBV framework from which all of his First Affirmative arguments come. The debate cannot proceed until this DoA issue is resolved one way or the other. And Preston has made it clear (and I agree) that if his spiritual-only DoA presupposition is “wrong,” then his CBV view is “misguided” (his words). And that would mean that this debate is over if he fails to establish his spiritual-only DoA presupposition as true. So, let’s examine this “critical” issue of the Death of
Death of Adam: Spiritual-Only or Physical Also?
- The two major views on resurrection within the Preterist movement (CBV versus IBV) part ways at the very beginning of the Bible in regard to how we each define the “death” that God threatened and carried out against Adam “on the very day” he sinned. The CBV defines it as a spiritual-only death, while the IBV sees it as a comprehensive death, including physical, spiritual, and eternal
- Some might wonder how physical death (in any sense) could be included in the death that was threatened against Adam’s sin, especially since Adam did not personally die physically on that day. We will explain that
- The CBV affirms that the only kind of death Adam died on the day he sinned was spiritual. They deny Adam died physically in any sense “on the day” he sinned. In his book, We Shall Meet Him in the Air (WSMHA hereafter), Preston explains how crucial the spiritual-only Death of Adam is to his collective body framework:
To wrongly identify the death of Adam is to wrongly construct eschatology. To wrongly identify the nature and focus of Christ’s substitutionary, atoning work is to mis-interpret Thessalonians and the story of redemption. We must place our understanding of
1 Thessalonians and all eschatological passages within the proper context and framework or we are doomed to miss and/or misconstrue their message. [WSMHA, 20, boldface added]
- Do you see what Preston is claiming here? He makes the DoA issue “the focus of Christ’s end time resurrection work.” He says the implications of his spiritual-only view of the DoA are so “profound” that they “identify the nature of the resurrection in Thessalonians and all other New Testament passages.” He asserts that if anyone (including himself) mis- identifies the DoA, then both his protology and eschatology are “wrong” and “misguided,” including his explanation of Christ’s substitutionary atoning work and the story of redemption! He refers to his own spiritual-only DoA view as being “the proper context and framework” (or foundation) upon which we should build our understanding of all eschatological passages. Do you catch the importance of that?
- I do not think Preston has overstated the case here. The implications of the DoA issue are indeed very “profound” and far-reaching! And it means that if the CBV concept of a spiritual-only DoA is mistaken, then both their protology and eschatology are “wrong” and “misguided,” including their explanation of Christ’s substitutionary atonement and the story of redemption. And that would negate their collective body resurrection view which is built on their assumption that the DoA was spiritual-only.
- However, the CBV cannot be right about the DoA being spiritual-only, because it would necessarily imply both that Christ did not need to die physically in order to overcome the spiritual-only DoA, and that the physical death of Jesus was not His substitutionary death for our
atonement. But that fatally contradicts Hebrews 9:22 which states, “without the shedding of [Christ’s] blood there is no forgiveness.” That absolutely demands that the physical death of Jesus was his substitutionary death for our atonement. The CBV attempts to avoid this dilemma by redefining the “blood” in Heb 9:22 as being “not literal liquid blood.” Steve Baisden and Don Preston defended this spiritual blood idea on FaceBook in October and November 2018 –
Baisden said, “How many ounces of Jesus’ blood did it take to purchase that church? Did he get any enzymes in change back? … Were you washed in the physical blood of Jesus? And if so, where might I find that swimming pool at?” Preston came to the defense of Baisden by saying, “the blood being shed for remission of sin … was not literal blood.” In response to Scott Russell, Preston said, “You seem to be taking the position that Jesus’ literal liquid blood of red and white corpuscles is what saves us, and not what the blood represents.” [boldface added]
- So, we see that the core issue distinguishing the CBV from the IBV is our respective definitions of the death that Adam died “on the very day” he sinned. And since these two diametrically-opposed definitions of the DoA cannot both be right, it means that one of these two views is “wrong” and “misguided” (Preston’s words). Therefore, this debate between the CBV and IBV can be settled right here on this very issue of the Death of
- How we define the Death of Adam in Genesis will definitely determine what we believe about the Death and Resurrection of Jesus and His saints in the New Testament. This immediately raises the question, “Why does the CBV absolutely insist that the only death that Adam died on the day he sinned was spiritual death?” Let’s look at the Genesis text to see what kind of death was both threatened and carried out upon Adam “in the day” he
What Does ‘in the day you eat’ Mean?
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Gen 2:16-17, NKJV)
- Notice that whatever kind of death God threatened against Adam was to be executed upon him “in the very day” he ate from the forbidden tree. There is nothing ambiguous about this language. It is very explicit. Therefore, it cannot be talking about the physical natural death of Adam nine-hundred years later. Instead, it can only be talking about a penal death that Adam would die “in the very day he ate.” No other death at any other time will fit the clear language here.
- Many commentaries try to explain away this language by suggesting that Adam merely began to die on that day, or that he became mortal (subject to eventual death), or that the death penalty was only imputed against him on that day. But there is not a hint of those ideas in the context. God explicitly warned Adam that if he ate from the forbidden tree, he would die “in the very same day he ”
- Furthermore, we need to note that Preston totally agrees with me on this. In his book, he spends three full pages (WSMHA, 5-7) contending for this idea that whatever kind of death was threatened, it had to be the same kind of death that was actually carried out in the very same 24-hour day that Adam sinned. Here is how Don argues that case:
Did Adam and Eve die [physically] the day that they ate the forbidden fruit? … The vast majority say, “No, Adam and Eve did not die [physically] the day they ate.” Interestingly however, when we point out that God said they would die that day, and that Satan said they would not die that day, there is an immediate recognition that their view has a serious problem! The denial that Adam and Eve died the day they ate the fruit makes Satan the one who told the truth . . . This conundrum, is very real. Who really told the truth, God, or Satan?
It will be readily admitted that the term “day” can be used metaphorically. . . .[However] only context can determine what “the day” means in any given text. Do we have any contextual help for understanding what “the day” means in Genesis 2:16f? We do indeed.
Note that YHVH told Adam and Eve, “In the day that you eat thereof, you will surely die.” When Satan confronted Eve, he told her, “You will not surely die, but, God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). Notice the direct correlation between “in the day you eat you will surely die” and “in the day you eat you will know good and evil.”
Of course, Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. The question therefore is, in what day did they come to know good and evil? Was that knowledge imparted 900 years later? Did they continue in their innocence for several more centuries? The answer is obvious, is it not? They knew good and evil in that very day, the day marked by the sun, moon, and stars, a twenty-four hour day.
The identical term “in the day” is used to say they would die, and they would come to know good and evil. Where is the contextual evidence that “in the day that you eat you will surely die,” can be extrapolated into almost a millennium?
Consider the grammatical problem of saying Adam and Eve did die spiritually that day, but they did not die physically for hundreds of years. This means that the same identical term, in the same verse, has two totally disparate, contradictory, definitions. We are told that “in the day that you eat, you will surely die,” means that in that very same twenty-four hour period, they would lose their fellowship life with YHVH and be cast out of His presence. But then, that same identical statement, within the same verse, meant you will die physically hundreds of years from now! What rule of grammar, of linguistics, of semantics, of hermeneutic, allows the identical term, in the identical verse, to mean two totally different things? It appears from our vantage point that only a preconceived idea of the nature of the death of Adam can force this kind of meaning onto the text. [WSMHA, 5-7, boldface and bracketed words added for clarity and emphasis]
- Thus, it seems clear that the phrase “in the day you eat” in the context of Genesis 2-3 absolutely means that Adam would certainly die some kind of death within the same twenty- four-hour day that he ate the forbidden fruit. There is simply no grammatical or contextual justification for the idea that this death could occur sometime later. Whatever kinds of death were threatened (spiritual and/or physical), they all had to occur literally “on the very same day he ”
- And we need to note that Preston’s whole spiritual-only DoA position critically depends on this idea that the threatened death (whatever it was) must have occurred on the very same 24-hour day that Adam sinned. That raises the question: What kinds of death were threatened and carried out on the very same day they ate?
What Kinds of Death Did God Threaten?
- In the conversation between the Serpent and the woman (Gen 3:1-6), we can discern what her concept of the threatened death was. The Serpent questioned what God said: “Did God actually say that you could not eat from every tree in the garden?” The woman replied: “We do eat from the trees of the garden, except this one about which God said, do not eat of it, nor even touch it, lest you die.” But the Serpent said: “You will not surely die, for God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, a delight to the eyes, and would make her wise, she took and
- Notice the four italicized statements above: (1) not to eat of it, nor even touch it, lest you die; (2) You will not surely die; (3) good for food; (4) delight to the eyes. The woman associated three physical actions with the threatened death, eating, touching, and seeing. This implies that she understood the death threat to be physical death, since there is no indication that she already knew what spiritual death was. In fact, since they had not yet sinned, they could not have known what spiritual death was. Her spiritual eyes had not been opened yet. But she was able to see the delightful-looking tree with her physical eyes. And since she associated the threatened death with those three physical actions (eating, touching, and seeing), it strongly, if not necessarily, implies that her concept of the threatened death was physical.
- This conclusion is further supported by the fact that when the Serpent reassured her that they would not die by touching it or eating it, she understood that the fruit was safe to eat (i.e., “good for food” Gen 3:6). It would not kill them. It does not appear that she had any concept of spiritual death (sin-death) whatsoever. Her only concern appears to have been whether they would physically die from touching and eating the
- Furthermore, Eve got this physical concept of death from Adam, and Adam got it straight from God, which necessarily implies that physical death was at least included in the kinds of death that God threatened to execute upon them “in the very day they ”
- This means that when God showed up “in the cool of the day” they should have been struck dead on the spot, in the same way Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead on the very day they lied to Peter and the Holy Spirit (Acts 5). God did that to Ananias and Sapphira, so why did he not kill Adam and Eve “on the very day they sinned”? Below we explain how there actually was a physical death on behalf of Adam and Eve on the very day they
How Was That Physical Death Carried Out?
“The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” [Gen 3:21, NAS95]
- Notice that little word “skin.” Many commentaries point out that this necessarily implies that an animal was slain by God in order to provide these “garments of skin” for Adam and Eve. But God was not merely concerned about covering their physical nakedness. He was even more concerned about their forgiveness and spiritual well-being.
- Chandler and McKeever explain how the physical death of that animal in the garden on the very day they sinned brought provisional forgiveness to Adam and Eve, and was the beginning of the substitutionary sacrificial system which pointed straight to Jesus who provided the full and final once-for-all atonement through His physical death on the Cross. Notice Chandler’s emphasis on the idea of a “sacrificial substitute,” or “substitute victim,” which “represented the death owed by the man”:
In harmony with God’s preplanned arrangement for atonement, physical death was required “in the day” of the sin, and was just as surely given! An animal was slain from which clothes were taken in the form of skins. It must be so that the slain animal was the substitute victim for Adam and Eve. Physical death came into Eden “in that day,” but it came upon man’s sacrificial substitute. When the animal was slain, it represented the death owed by the man. [Darwin Chandler. “The Fate of Innocence,” Expository Review (vol. 1, no. 10, Oct. 1982) boldface added]
Throughout the rest of the Old Testament, this pattern of atonement for sins is followed: physical death of a perfect animal (i.e., without blemish or spot) on behalf of the sinner, although the blood of these bulls and goats could not take away sins (Heb 10:4). This pattern culminated in the real thing, which God had promised in the beginning – Gen 3:15
– the physical death of the perfect Lamb of God on the Cross on behalf of his people. [Stacia McKeever, “What Does Jesus’s Death Accomplish?” Answers in Genesis website article. boldface added]
Were Adam and Eve Forgiven?
- On Jan 18, 2019, in a FaceBook discussion with Rod Stokes, Preston was asked if he believed Adam and Eve were forgiven before they left the garden. He replied, “No, they were not forgiven [before they left the garden].” When asked if they were ever forgiven before they physically died, he replied, “We are not told if they were forgiven at some point subsequent to the Garden … that I am aware ”
- That is a very disturbing admission by Preston. If true, it would mean that the first parents of our human race died unforgiven and will spend eternity outside the Presence of God. Andrew Willet reminds us that the heretic Tatian taught that very same thing, i.e., “that Adam was damned [never forgiven].” But then Willet asks, “If Adam had no faith remaining, to what purpose should God have propounded the promise of the Messiah to a faithless man (Gen 3:15)?” [Commentary on Genesis, vol. 2. Thompson, ed., Reformation Commentary on Scripture, vol. 1, 162. italics added]
- The Protoevangelium, or first statement of the gospel (Gen 3:15), provides proof that God had forgiven them. The promise of a descendant to crush the Serpent shows that God gave them a future. They were not going to die on that day. The animal was slain in substitute for them, and its skin was a visible reminder of its substitutionary sacrificial death on their behalf. Thus, Adam and Eve left the garden in a forgiven
- Gulley notes that “As soon as there was sin, there was a Savior.” As soon as they sinned, God proclaimed the gospel to them (Gen 3:15) and offered a sacrifice for their provisional forgiveness as they looked toward the future Coming One who would fulfill that physical substitutionary sacrificial typology once-for-all by His physical death on the Cross. [Gulley, Creation, Christ, Salvation, Systematic Theology vol. 3, 416]
Restoration of Fellowship?
- Notice what the following writers have to say about the forgiveness and restoration of fellowship of Adam and Eve before they left the garden:
- Because [God] always seeks to forgive and restore what was lost, each covenant contains the element of forgiveness . . . and aims to restore what was lost…………………….. The church
has long understood the skin garment episode (Gen 3:21) as an adumbration of Christ and his sacrifice, in much the same way as the later Levitical animal sacrifices anticipate that of the Son. Surely this is correct. [Jeffrey J. Niehaus, “The Common Grace Covenants,” in vol. 1 of Biblical Theology, Accordance electronic ed. (Wooster: Weaver Book Company, 2014), 77-80.]
- God subsequently clothes them to signify their inaugurated restoration to him (Gen. 3:21). [G.K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2011), 41. boldface added]
- Yet God also revealed a way in which human sin could be forgiven and the broken relationship restored. God himself provided a substitute (an animal) whose blood (life) would atone for sin (Genesis 3:21). This began the sacrificial system. This revealed that once atonement had been made it was again possible for humankind to enter God’s presence However, this was done only through a mediator, the high priest, who
represented God’s people (Exodus 28:12, 29)…… [and] foreshadowed a coming sacrifice
and a high priest who would make atonement once for all. [Randall Price, Rose Guide to the Temple, 4. boldface added]
- From the beginning, some of the first notable changes that would attest to a new [covenantal] arrangement……………………… [was] a sacrifice-based relationship of blood atonement
with God (4:3–5). The blood sacrifice was the only acceptable means of reconciliation
for those faithful ones who sought to remain in personal fellowship with Him….. this alteration of relationship (now indirect) was portrayed in the first act of personal redemption as personally accomplished by the Lord for Adam and Eve (Gen 3:21). [Ervin Starwalt, “Issue 8: April 1999.” ConTJ 3 (Apr 1999): p. 109. boldface and bracketed material added for emphasis and clarity]
- The Protoevangelium (Gen. 3:15), God’s promise to bring forth a kinsman-redeemer from the seed of Eve who would crush the Serpent’s head, is further acted out in the substitutionary sacrifice that God performed in front of Adam and Eve. This certainly had to be the beginning of the sacrificial system, and the origin of the sacrificial lamb motif that recurs constantly throughout both testaments. For instance, we see Abel offer a lamb from his flocks, the ram (lamb) caught in a thicket on Mount Moriah, the Passover lamb in Egypt, the statement of John the Baptist about Jesus being the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, and preeminent of all, that marvelous text in Revelation (5:6) where John saw “a Lamb standing as if slain.”
‘Died With’ and ‘Put On’
- When God killed a sacrificial animal to provide skins for Adam and Eve to cover their nakedness, that sacrificial Lamb died in their place. They “died with” the lamb on that day, and “put on” the skin of that lamb to cover their shame. This is sacrificial language. Whoever pays for the sacrifice gets the benefits of that sacrifice (escape from death and forgiveness of sin).
- So, when the lamb died physically on that day, they “died with” it, just like we “die with” Christ on the day of our conversion (Rom 6:8; Col 2:20; 2Tim 2:11; cf. Rom 6:4-5; Gal 2:19-20; 1Pet 2:24). They “put on” the skins of the sacrificial lamb just like we “put on” Christ in our conversion (Rom 13:14; Eph 4:24; Col 3:10-12; Rev 3:5; 3:18; 19:8; 2Cor 5:21; Rom 5:19; Phlp 3:9), which covers our sin and enables us to stand righteous in God’s
- The skin of that animal not only covered their guilt and shame, but also pointed to their new immortal bodies which God would provide through the death of His Son, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29, 36). When we “die with” that Lamb and “put on” His garments of righteousness, we are given hope of life in heaven in our new immortal bodies.
- God promised a redeemer, and the sacrificial system was instituted on that very day to bear witness to the coming Son of Adam who would be the Lamb of God to die for us (Rom 5:8; 1Thess 5:10). They “died with” that lamb “on that day,” and thus began the redemptive drama through the substitutionary sacrificial system. In our closing comments, we will explain the profound implications that Genesis 3:21 has upon our understanding of the Death of Adam and our resulting eschatological resurrection
Don’s Summary of His First Affirmative (Points 52-60)
- Don lists the things he thinks he has “shown” and “proven” in his first 51 points. But all of his arguments spring from his “misguided” CBV view which is founded upon his “wrong” spiritual-only DoA
- Don claims that he has shown that the Death introduced by Adam could not have included physical death. But we have shown that the Death that was both threatened and carried out against Adam on the very day he sinned DID include physical death, because the animal that died on their behalf was their substitute. That animal died in their place, and they died with it, just as we die with Christ in a substitutionary sacrificial sense.
- [DON’S FIRST AFFIRMATIVE POINT 60] If Don is somehow able to establish his spiritual-only DoA presupposition as true, then (and only then) can he legitimately proceed to finish explaining his “gathering” concept so that I can interact with it. It is his responsibility (when he is in the affirmative) to lay out his affirmative position and defend it, instead of trying to negate my “gathering” view before I have even affirmed it. My only obligation (in the negative) is to negate his affirmative material, NOT his “negations” of my
- Preston claims (and I agree) that if we wrongly identify the Death of Adam, we will automatically mis-interpret the story of redemption, wrongly construct eschatology, and wrongly identify the nature of the resurrection in the whole New Testament. This means that if Don has mis-identified the DoA as being spiritual-only (and he has), then his CBV eschatological view is “wrong” and “misguided” (Preston’s words).
- Preston claims (and I agree) that no matter what kind of death was threatened against Adam, it had to be carried out on the very same twenty-four-hour day that Adam ate (Gen 2:17). We showed that Eve understood that threat to at least include physical death (Gen 3:1-6). And we saw how an innocent animal did die physically on that day as a substitute sacrifice for their forgiveness (Gen 3:21; Heb 9:22). That began the whole substitutionary sacrificial system which pointed straight to Jesus whose physical death on the Cross was the ultimate fulfillment of that substitutionary sacrificial
- However, Preston denies that the animal death on that day had anything to do with forgiveness of sin, and asserts instead that the only death Adam died on that day was spiritual. But this poses a dilemma for Don’s view. It would mean that Jesus did NOT need to die physically in order to save us from the spiritual-only Death of Adam. And that would fatally contradict Hebrews 9:22 which says, “without the shedding of [Christ’s] blood there is no forgiveness.” Don tries to overcome this dilemma by redefining “blood” in Heb 9:22 as NOT referring to literal physical blood. (See paragraphs 4 and 27 above).
- Don also teaches that the physical death of Jesus was only a “sign” of the spiritual death, which means that the physical death was NOT the substitutionary death for our atonement, but rather that Christ’s spiritual death was the real substitutionary death. That idea not only downplays the redeeming significance of Christ’s physical death, but goes even further to eliminate the physical death of Jesus from his substitutionary death. Folks, that is trampling underfoot the precious irreplaceable physical blood of Christ! The gospel is at stake here!
- Thus, we have demonstrated that physical death was included in the kinds of death that were both threatened against Adam and executed on the very day he sinned. This proves that Don has mis-identified the Death of Adam as being spiritual-only.
- And since the CBV eschatological view is critically dependent on that spiritual-only DoA concept, if that presupposition is wrong (and it is), then it automatically invalidates not only the CBV view, but all of Don’s arguments against the rapture that spring from
- Everything is at stake here for Preston. Therefore, in his Second Affirmative, Don must prove beyond a shadow of doubt that his spiritual-only DoA concept is absolutely true. If he fails to do that, then this debate is over. This debate can be settled right here on this issue of the Death of Adam!
– – – – – – – – – – – THE END – – – – – – – – – – –
Source: Don K. Preston