I am continuing to critique Michael Brown’s book, Authentic Fire and responding to Charismatic arguments that I once used against Pastor MacArthur and other professors and students at The Master’s College (as a young Charismatic having graduated Calvary Chapel Bible College). Having become a Full Preterist (while attending The Master’s College in the early 90’s), I now have the exegetical answers that Futurism and MacArthur could not provide me in order to leave the false teaching of Charismatic theology behind. It was sad to read MacArthur’s book, Strange Fire, and listen to the Strange Fire Conference speakers, and see that after all these years they still are unable to answer these Charismatic arguments on an exegetical level. We now approach another of the Charismatic arguments (that I am listing as #3) – The Great Commission.
Argument #3 – The Great Commission Mrk. 16/Matt. 28
Charismatics argue that the miraculous gifts continue throughout the Great Commission period of the kingdom, and the Churches call to “wage war” by casting out demons will continue until we reach the “end of the age” (Mark 16:15-18/Matthew 24:14/Matthew 28:18-20).
Mark 16:15-18 reads,
“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
Michael Brown writes the following connecting the dots of Mark 16:15-18:
“…the first sign to accompany the believer is: “In my name they will drive out [ekballo being suggestive of the LXX’s rendering of garas, “to drive out,” used frequently with reference to the conquest of Canaan (see, Exod 23:28-30; Deut 33:27; less frequently, but in similar contexts, ekballo renders the Hiphil of yrs “to disposess”; see Exod 34:24; Deut 11:23). Thus, just as the Israelites were commissioned by Yahweh to drive out and dispossess the Canaanites, thereby taking the promised land, so also the disciples were commissioned by Jesus to drive out and dispossess demons, thereby taking back what rightfully belonged to God and making disciples for him, the new subjects of his kingdom (Matt 28:18-20; Col 1:13; Rev 1:5-6). This gospel of the kingdom was proclaimed by the early Church (cf. Matt 24:14; Acts 8:12, 20:24-25, 28:23, 31), suggesting that there would be a continuing pattern of miracles integrally associated with the message, since the battle for the final establishment of the kingdom of God raged (and rages) on.” (Authentic Fire, 178).
John MacArthur writes of Mark 16:17-18,
“These signs were promised to the apostolic community (Matt. 10:1; 2 Cor. 12:12), not all believers in all ages (cf. 1 Cor. 12:29, 30). All (with exception of drinking poison) were experienced by some in the apostolic church and reported in Scripture (e.g., Acts 28:5), but not afterward (cf. v. 20). (The MacArthur Study Bible).
Although aspects of what John says here are true, his argument ultimately falls flat in that since Mark 16:15-18 is parallel with Matthew 28:18-20, those “believing” are not limited to the “Apostolic age,” but extends to the “end of the age” which he believes has yet to be fulfilled. However, when we acknowledge the truth that the “end of the age” is referring to the OC age ending in AD 70, then it becomes even clearer that “these signs were promised…not [to] all believers in all ages.”
The other problem is that MacArthur believes many Charismatics are “demon possessed.”
Putting the two together – So if MacArthur believes we are commanded to preach the gospel and cast out demons from Charismatics until the end of the age arrives, then why can’t these other miraculous sign gifts (speaking in new tongues laying hands on the sick) accompany the casting out of demons from these Charismatics that MacArthur vigorously pursues?!?
Let’s now examine the Great Commission and waging war motifs in the OT – as they were related to the land promises (being “in the land”) and then how the Great Commission was fulfilled prior to AD 70 and being “in Christ.”
Moses and Israel’s Exodus – the Establishment of the OC “Heaven and Earth” (Isa. 51:15-16)
Moses performs physical miracles and takes Israel through a physical exodus to prove God is delivering them from physical slavery – while Jesus performs physical miracles to prove He is delivering Israel (through a second or new exodus) from the power and slavery of sin (spiritual). Through the Exodus and within a 40 year generation, Moses performed the most miracles in OT (cf. Deut. 34:10-11) – which pointed to Jesus and the Church OC / NC 40 year generation / transition period which produced even more miracles than that of Moses.
The Holy Spirit was poured out upon 70 elders to help Moses judge the people – which pointed to Jesus sending out 70 of His disciples to perform more miracles communicating that He was the new Moses and His disciples would serve as the new judges over Israel (through the gospel).
Moses miracle of striking the rock and water flowing through it — pointed to the living waters and eternal life coming through Christ and the giving of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit’s power was also given to enable the hands of Israel’s craftsmen to construct the building up of the physical tabernacle – while Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to the Apostles whom through the laying on of hands begins building up the spiritual tabernacle in the book of Acts (consisting of Jews and Gentiles).
The physical tabernacle and God’s presence in the midst of the twelve tribes of Israel pointed to Christ and the Father establishing their spiritual home within the believer at His Second Coming in AD 70 (John 14:23/Rev. 21:3).
Joshua’s miracles associated with the land promises
Through Joshua, God helps Israel Conquer the Promised Land miraculously and yet at the same time, through aiding Israel fighting with the sword they are able to cast out the unclean nations from God’s land. This points us to Christ and the early Church conquering the land of Israel and the Gentile nations not by means of the literal sword, but by the gospel and the sword of the Spirit.
“This Age” & “Age to Come”
The Jews during Jesus’ day understood “this age” to be the OC age of the law and prophets and the “age to come” to be the NC age of Messiah which would follow. As I point out in my/our book, it is Reformed and an orthodox Christian interpretation to identify Jesus and Paul’s “this age” to be the OC age (not the Christian age) and the “age to come,” to be the NC age of Messiah arriving when the OC age passed away in AD 70 (see HD, 91ff.). Jesus and Paul do not depart from this traditional Jewish two age structure as they look to an imminent fulfillment coming in the lifetimes of their first century audiences – in which the old would pass and the new arrives in a mature state (ie. AD 70).
The Second Exodus & Days of Messiah
Isaiah 11 predicted a second exodus coming for Israel. Some of the Jews prior to Christ and during his day based upon Psalm 90:15 and other OT passages, believed “the days of Messiah” would be a transition period between the OC “this age” and the Messianic NC “age to come” and that this would be another Forty Year exodus period. Not only that, but that in the Messianic or NC Age/World to Come/New Heaven and Earth – not everything would be “perfect” in the sense that Brown and MacArthur have portrayed it:
“There is no difference between this world and the days of the Messiah except the servitude of the heathen kingdoms alone; as it is said, “For the poor shall never cease out of the land” (Deut. 15:2) (Ber. 34b.), i.e. not even in the Messianic era.
Many Rabbis believed that the period of the Messiah was to be only a transitionary stage between this world [age] and the World to Come [age to come], and opinions differed on the time of its duration. ‘How long will the days of Messiah last? R. Akiba said, Forty years, as long as the Iraelites were in the wilderness.” (Dr. Boaz Cohen, NEW AMERICAN EDITION Everyman’s TALMUD, p. 356.
According to Brown and MacArthur’s hyper-literalism, isn’t there sin, evangelism, physical death, and procreation in the Messianic World/Age to Come or New Heaven and Earth in Isaiah 65:17-22? And yet, the Apostle John sees evil surrounding the New Jerusalem and evangelism taking place even after Christ comes and after the New Creation arrives continuing post AD 70 into the NC age — per Revelation 22.
“Waging War” & The Great Commission
Jesus is tempted for 40 days in the wilderness and overcomes as a sign to verify that He is the true and faithful Israel/Son (having come to establish her second exodus). And when He comes back in the land He begins gathering his disciples, healing the sick, proclaiming the kingdom of God was at hand, and conquering the land by casting out demons (as Israel had cast out the nations in the promised land) – demonstrating that He has come to establish a kingdom within the spiritual realm of man. And this again proves He is both the “Son of David” and “The Most High.”
David & Solomon – Kings and Prophets Typological of Jesus – Son of David.
God aided David miraculously to be a man of war and he reigned over Israel for 40 years. In Christ’s pre-parousia reign, he reigned through the Church over Israel subduing His enemies under His feet for 40 years and approaching AD 70 He was “about to consume” them at His “in a very little while” coming (Heb. 10:13-37).
God gave Solomon a miraculous expression of wisdom, he was allowed to build God’s Temple, and he ruled over Israel for 40 years of peace in fulfilling Israel’s land promises (they inherited ALL the land God promised them, and He kept their enemies away). Christ was the embodiment of God’s wisdom and peace, He was the cornerstone of His Temple, and in His 40 years transition / pre-parouia reign, He gave those who trusted in Him inner joy and peace (from the accusations and threats of the law and Satan – while giving them wisdom when brought before their persecutors – that their persecutors could not refute).
David and Solomon wrote Psalms and songs of “The Most High” which when sung, delivered those who were possessed by demons (1 Kings 4:29-34 mentions 1,005 songs, but the LXX adds many more and the Dead Sea Scrolls mention them as well. Psalm 151 LXX, and Psalm 91 [terror of the night=night demon & “arrow that flies by day” = day demon] are said to be a couple of these).
Jesus was both the “Son of David,” and “The Most High” who came to drive out demons and unclean spirits from the land and ultimately cast them into the Lake of Fire at His parousia in AD 70 (Zech. 13:2; Matt. 24–25:31-46; Rev. 20:10–22:6-12; Rms. 16:20). The miracle of casting out demons was a sign that verified what He was teaching about a spiritual kingdom “in” and “within” was true and that it was within their reach through faith in Him.
Israel’s Great Commission and 40 years of War and Peace
God chose Israel (a corporate Adam) to be His elect son and commissioned him to now subdue (Hebrew kabash) the wicked nations of the land (Num. 32:29; 2 Sam. 8:11; 1 Chron. 22:18-19) and to have dominion (Hebrew radah) (rule, reign, possess, plunder, & make slaves of) the other nations of the land (Lev. 25:44-46; 1 Kings 4:21-25; Isa. 14:2). Under the old-covenant God primarily dealt with His chosen Nation Israel and His purpose among the Nations was to drive them out and exterminate them and their idol’s from His Land (Deut. 6-7). The Jewish mindset considered the Promised Land of Israel with its Holy City and temple to be the Garden of God and where the light and life of Torah resided. They considered the heathen Gentile Nations to be dogs and wild beasts of the field in utter darkness and death needing to be re-created and subdued under the teaching of Torah.
At times members of some of the surrounding Gentile Nations would hear and witness the power of Israel’s God and would want to be gathered into the Nation and land in order to worship and serve Jehovah. The rabbinical usage and terminology of describing this conversion was to refer to the Gentile convert as a “new creation” or “creature.” Thus the “subduing” and exercising “dominion” over the earth/land finds its fulfillment in the conversion of the hearts and minds of people (Jew and Gentile) to the law of God. God said to not turn away the Gentile “alien” because at one time Israel’s forefathers (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) were “aliens” and “sojourners” in Canaan and Israel herself were “aliens” in Egypt – therefore they were to love them and treat them as if they were one of their own (Ex.6:1-4; Lev.19:34). The Gentile “aliens” would be circumcised and partake of the Passover (Ex.12:48). They could offer up burnt offerings and sacrifices to God, had to keep torah just as the Israelites, and were likewise susceptible to the covenant cursings if they disobeyed just as the native born Israelites (Lev. 17:8-13; Num. 15). It is a point of debate, but it appears that even in type form, they could inherit the land as well (Ezk.47:22-23). This lays the foundation for seeing the Jew / Gentile oneness “In Christ” under the new covenant. Even a precursor glimpse of the OC Jew/Gentile type of NC salvation destroys true “hyper-preterism” or the Israel-only view.
Although it can be correctly stated that Israel was not successful in fulfilling the great commission and being a light to the gentiles due to their propensity to fall into the sin of an exclusive self righteousness, it can also be stated that she temporary (in type form) did fulfill the great commission in a limited way. As God promised, Israel through Jehovah’s power did subdue and rule over all the land driving out the unclean beasts of the gentile nations: (Josh. 21:43-45; 1 Kings 8:56; Neh. 9:7-8). As previously pointed out, they experienced a typological subduing of God’s enemies and peace through the 40 year reigns of David and Solomon, which typified the warfare and peace of Christ’s pre-parousia reign and the early Church in subduing their enemies (Psalm 110/Heb. 10:13-37/1 Cor. 15:23-26) — this being a 40 year millennial reign before Christ returned in A.D. 70. The Great Commission was fulfilled in Jesus’ and Paul’s generation:
The Great Commission fulfilled by the end of the OC age in AD 70
|1. “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world [Greek oikumene] for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matt. 24:14)
* One def. – “The Roman Empire (Acts 17:6); the Jews in the world (Acts 24:5). Of Palestine and the adjacent countries (Luke 2:1; Acts 11:28).”
|1. “But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed:‘Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.’” [Greek oikumene] (Rom. 10:18)|
|2. “And the gospel must first be published among all nations.” [Greek ethnos] “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.’” [Greek ethnos] “‘. . . I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” (Mark 13:10; Matt. 28:19-20)
* These are “all the nations under heaven” in (Acts 2:4-5)
|2. “…My gospel… has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations. . . .” [Greek ethnos] (Rom. 16:25-26)|
|3. “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world [Greek kosmos] and preach the gospel to every creature” “. . . And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils;they shall speak with new tongues.” [Greek glossa] (Mark 16:15, 17)
* One def. – “The then–known world and particularly the people who lived in it…”
|3. “…of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world [Greek kosmos], as is bringing forth fruit…” (Cols. 1:5-6)|
|4. “And he said unto them ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’” [Greek kitisis] (Mark 16:15)
* The creation of men – “in rabbinical usage (by which a man converted from idolatry to Judaism was called).”
|4. “ . . . from the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature [Greek kitisis] under heaven, of which I, Paul became a minister.”(Col. 1:23)|
|5. “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth/land.” [Greek ge] (Acts 1:8)
* The then known lands, regions, territories, countries etc…
|5. “But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed:‘Their sound has gone out to all the earth/land [Greek ge], and their words to the ends of the world.’” (Rom. 10:18)|
|6. Prophecy had begun to be fulfilled: “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues [Greek glossa], as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation [Greek ethnos] under heaven. (Acts 2:4-5)||6. Prophecy would be fulfilled “shortly”: “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth/land [Greek ge], and to every nation [Greek ethnos], and kindred [Greek phile] and tongue [Greek glossa], and people.” [Greek laos] (Rev.14:6). “The scene is Pentecost, 30 A.D. (cf. Heb. 12:22-24). This is when the gospel began to be preached under the authority of the great commission (cf. Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15-16; Lk. 24:46-49) and the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8; 2:1-4; 33; 1 Pet. 1:12). From here the gospel was preached to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people (cf. Matt. 24:14; Mk. 13:10; Rom. 1:16; 10:18; Col. 1:23).” (Arthur Ogden, The Avenging of the Apostles and Prophets Commentary on Revelation, pp. 292-293).
Premise #1 If it is true and orthodox to believe that the NT only addresses ONE Great Commission to be completed at the end of ONE “end of the age” (Matt. 24:14/Mk. 13:10; Matt. 28:18-20/Mk. 16:15-18; Acts 1:8) – both of which are to be fulfilled just prior to the ONE Second Coming or parouia of Christ (Full Preterists, classic Amillennialists & Charismatics agree)…
Premise #2 …And if it is also true and orthodox to believe that the Great Commission in (Matt. 24:14/Mk. 13:10) and the “end of the (OC) age” was fulfilled at Christ’s parousia in AD 70 (Full Preterists and Partial Preterists agree)…
Conclusion: …Then it is also true and necessarily follows that the ONE Great Commission (Matt. 24:14/Mk. 13:10; Matt. 28:18-20/Mk. 16:15-18; Acts 1:8) was completed at the end of the ONE “end of the (OC) age” at Christ’s ONE parousia in AD 70 (“Reformed and always reforming”).
A = (Matt. 24:14/Mk. 13:10)
B = (Matt. 28:18-20/Mk. 16:15-18)
C = (Acts 1:8)
If A (Matt. 24:14/Mk. 13:10) was fulfilled in AD 70.
And A (Matt. 24:14/Mk. 13:10) is = to B (Matt. 28:18-20/Mk. 16:15-18).
And B (Matt. 28:18-20/Mk. 16:15-18) bears some resemblance to C and is = to C (Acts 1:8).
Then A (Matt. 24:14/Mk. 13:10) is = to C (Acts 1:8).
Therefore, A (Matt. 24:14/Mk. 13:10) is = to B (Matt. 28:18-20/Mk. 16:15-18) is = to C (Acts 1:8) and all ABC (the ONE GC) was/were fulfilled by the end of the OC age in AD 70. “Two or more things that are equal to another thing are also equal to each other.”
Satan & Demons
Between AD 26 – AD 66 Christ and the Church conquered the promised land of Israel and the Gentile nations inwardly through the gospel (sword of the Spirit) and by casting out demons and driving them from the land (Zech. 13:2) and ultimately to the Lake of Fire. Between AD 66 – AD 70 many of the Churches persecutors died in that slaughter and were thrown into the Lake of Fire with the Devil and his angels (Matt. 25:46/Rev. 20:10). Satan was truly “crushed” “shortly” and was “shortly” thrown into the Lake of Fire per Paul and John (Rms. 16:20; Rev. 1:1, 20:10).
Premise #1 If it is true and orthodox to believe that the ONE final crushing and judgment of Satan and demons takes place at Christ’s ONE Second Coming or parousia event (Rms. 16:20; Matt. 25:31-46; Rev. 20:10–22:6-12) (Full Preterists, Classic Amillennialists, & Charismatics agree)
Premise #2 And if it is also true and orthodox to believe that if the NT says an eschatological event would be fulfilled “shortly” it refers to AD 70 and that Christ’s coming in Matthew 24–25:31; Rev. 1—22 was fulfilled in AD 70…(Partial Preterists agree 99% [minus Rms. 16:20 for creedal purposes] with Full Preterists)…
Conclusion: Then it is also true and necessarily follows that the ONE crushing and judgment of Satan and demons was fulfilled “shortly” at Christ’s ONE Second Coming or parousia event in AD 70 (Rms. 16:20; Matt. 25:31-46; Rev. 1:1; 20:10–22:6-12) (“Reformed and always reforming”).
Concluding Charismatic Argument #3 The Great Commission Mrk. 16/Matt. 28
Jesus foretold that the Great Commission would be fulfilled in His contemporary “this generation” and the Apostle Paul – under inspiration of the Holy Spirit uses every Greek word Jesus used to describe the GC to confirm that it was fulfilled within that first century time period (Cols. 1:5-6, Rms. 10:18; Rms. 16:25-26). Post parousia and arrival of the New Jerusalem the gates of the city remain open and the Spirit and the Bride say “come” and the leaves of the Tree of Life (Jesus Christ) continue to be healing (spiritual) for the nations (Rev. 22:17).
Adam was to subdue and have dominion over the animals. Then OC Israel was given the sword to subdue and have dominion and cast out the unclean nations from God’s promised land. Jesus and the Church during the OC / NC transitionary period casted out demons and was establishing the kingdom “within” the spiritual realm (within the hearts of His followers). And through the Gospel and the Sword of the Spirit, the Church exercised her dominion over Israel and the Roman world. Post AD 70 the Church continues wielding the Sword of the Spirit and preaching the gospel – bringing hearts and minds into the submission of Jesus Christ the King of Kings.
The book of James tells us that fights and wars come from the sinful hearts of men. Therefore, we don’t need to have Satan and demons around to blame for sinful behavior. And it is gross error to claim that evil in the world is “evidence” which allegedly proves Christ did not come when He promised He would. There is clearly evil-workers outside the gates of the New Jerusalem and evangelism continues post AD 70 in the NC age of which we live in today.
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 Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.
 Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.