What About Acts 1?

What About, “In Like Manner?”

One of the most common objections to Covenant Eschatology is based on Acts 1:9f. The disciples, beholding the ascending Christ, were told that he would come, “in like manner as you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9f), this means, we are told, that Jesus must return in a physical body.

There are a variety of ways to counter this unfounded claim, including the fact that the Greek term (hon tropon) translated “in like manner” does not demand identicalness. As a matter of fact, those who press for the “in like manner” definition do not actually hold to a coming in identical manner as the ascent. For instance, Jesus left silently; yet, those who believe in a yet future parousia believe he will come with the literal sound of a trumpet.

While hon tropon can sometimes mean identicalness, it more often means general likeness, without specificity. For instance, in Matthew 23:37, Jesus said he had desired to gather Jerusalem “as (hon tropon) a mother hen gathers her chicks. Surely no one would argue that Jesus wanted to gather Jerusalem under his literal arm! Likewise, Paul said that the evil men arising in his generation withstood the truth “as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses.” Would anyone argue that Paul’s enemies were opposing him exactly and precisely as the false Egyptian prophets? In point of fact, hon tropon, seldom means exact likeness.

Jesus left, visible to only a handful of people. Yet, all futurists believe the Second Coming will be visible to every eye of every human on earth. Jesus told his disciples, “Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more; but ye will see me; because I live, you shall live also” (John 14:19). After his resurrection, Jesus appeared only to a select few (Acts 10:41), even including the 500 witnesses (1 Corinthians 15), and never appeared to the “world” at large again. And, here in John 14, he said that the world (kosmos) would never see him again. Jesus was never to appear in the flesh to the world again!

Jesus left without any “fanfare.” Yet, we are told that at the end of the present age, he will come with the destruction of material creation–which clearly did not happen at the ascension. And, he will come with 10,000 angels, when only one angel was present at the ascension.

There was no flaming fire, nor destruction of literal creation at the ascension. Yet, we are told that this is what happens when Christ returns in the future (2 Thessalonians 1; 2 Peter 3).

Jesus did not ascend on a white horse, with a sword protruding from his mouth, leading the army of heaven. Yet, John says that at the Second Coming, Jesus rides a white horse, leads the armies of heaven, and has a sword coming out of his mouth (Revelation 19). Where is the “in like manner” comparison here?

Consider the Transfiguration for a moment. (Be sure to see our articles on “Defining the Parousia” for a fuller discussion of this issue.) The Transfiguration was a vision of the parousia (Matthew 17; 2 Peter 1:16-19). However, what did Jesus look like at the Transfiguration? Did he look as he did at the ascension? Clearly not! The Transfiguration scene presented Jesus with the effulgent glory of Deity shining through. Jesus’ appearance was so radically transformed that the disciples were “scared out of their minds” to use a modern term. So, the Transfiguration was a vision of the Second Coming, but Christ’s appearance at the Transfiguration in no way resembles his appearance at the Ascension. Therefore, to overly emphasize “in like manner” in Acts 1 is patently wrong headed.

Likewise, in Revelation 1:13f, Jesus appeared to John in his post ascension form, and that description, that apocalupsis of Jesus, in no way resembles the ascension appearance of Jesus:

“In the midst of the seven lamp stands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and His hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; his feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.” (Revelation 1:13-16).

Notice that John saw, “one like the Son of Man.” The One he saw was so resplendently different than that One he had known, had seen, had touched (1 John 1:1-3), in his Incarnate existence, that John could only say that the One he now saw was like ( ìïéïí), the Son of Man.

Is it not clear that this appearance of Jesus was not Jesus in the flesh? This was not Jesus in his post resurrection earthly form. There is no physical, bodily likeness between this vision and what the disciples saw at the Ascension. Thus, to press the “in like manner” of Acts 1:9f to identicalness is misplaced. Both the Transfiguration and John’s vision on Patmos reveal Jesus’ parousia epiphany, and there was nothing of his earthly form revealed in either vision. In both of these visions, we see Jesus revealed as Deity, not as a man.

Very clearly, there are very significant and material differences between the Ascension of Christ and the traditionally taught Second Coming. Thus, the term “in like manner” should not be pressed too hard by those who insist on identicalness of manner. We have more to say about this in our book Like Father Like Son, ON Clouds of Glory. The book is currently sold out, and is under revision, but will be re-published in the near future.

For more information on Acts 1, go to www.eschatology.org.

Don K. Preston

The Truth About Isaiah 65:17-25

17  For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.

God’s creation and maturing of His new heavens and new earth arrived with the imminent return of Christ to end the “last days” of the old covenant age in AD 70 – according to (2 Peter 3 – being a “reminder” of 1 Peter 1:4-12; 4:5-7, 17 and Revelation 21-22: 6-7, 10-12, 20).  This is when the curse of the Adamic and Mosaic “the law,” “the sin,” and “the death,” creation was “about to be” completely removed for the Church (Romans 5-8). 
Some Postmillennial Partial Preterists such as Kenneth Gentry and Keith Mathison teach that Christ did in fact come in AD 70 which caused the “first” heavens and earth to pass away with God replacing it with His Church as the New Creation.  But eisegetically, they also try and maintain (at the same time) that the text is teaching a passing away of the first heavens and earth which involves a 2000 plus years and counting to the earth’s literal destruction/renewal.  This is supposed to be the “physical phase” of the passing of the Genesis 1-2 creation associated with the Second (third) Coming of Jesus.[1]  Gentry oddly interprets John’s use of Isaiah 65-66 as fulfilled in AD 70 in Revelation 21:1, but because 2 Peter 3 mentions “the beginning” of Genesis 1:1-2, he gives Isaiah 65-66 an “expanded” literal interpretation unlike some of his other partial preterist colleagues which place this as fulfilled in AD 70.[2]  His reasoning is more than odd, since the “first” heavens and earth of Revelation 21-22 is no less Genesis 1-3 material than 2 Peter 3 is.  The NT writers do not develop that there are thousands or millions of years associated with a “not yet”/ “ongoing” “literal phase” of fulfillment – in developing the restoration of creation motif of the OT prophets!             
18  But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.  19  And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.
According to the parallelism here, Jerusalem is equivalent to the “new heavens and new earth” or at the very least is inseparably connected with it in its prophetic spiritual substance.  So why are the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the “heavens” and “earth” rejoicing?  Because Jacob has been redeemed and glorified within Her (cf. Isa. 44:23).  Again, this redemption and glorification of the creation (Romans 8:18-23) was “about to” take place in AD 70.  There is no more weeping, because God’s people have been forgiven of their sins.  For all Partial Preterists and futurists, my interpretation is somehow “Gnostic.”  However, this is the NT’s eschatological goal of redemption, and we must reject their “literal phases” propped up with their invented “not yet” and “ongoing fulfillments” which the NT authors know nothing of.            
20  There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.
The “infant” and “old man” filling out their long days yet “die” is symbolic of eternal life (John 11:25-26).  But the “sinner” being “accursed” is symbolic of everlasting condemnation (cf. Dan. 12:2-3; Matt. 13:40-43)[3] and those without the City of Revelation 21-22 who die the second death in rejection of Christ (the Tree of Life).  Again, I see no literalization of “ongoing” or “not yet” teachings coming from Jesus in the Gospels, Daniel or John in the book of Revelation in addressing this Genesis 1-3 material. 
21  And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.  22  They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
This is the same concept as can be found in the joy of verses 18-19 of the inhabitants of “Jerusalem.”  Is “Jerusalem” there literal or the NC Jerusalem “from above” (Gals. 4)?  Under the OC everything was temporal and subject to being taken over by the times of the Gentiles.  Under the NC, this building, planting, and fruit are likewise equivalent to the spiritual “Jerusalem” and spiritual “new heavens and new earth” previously discussed. 
Through the preaching of the gospel by the apostles and the power of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, God was forming “dwelling places” (the side rooms of the Temple structure) for the Church in which He would be in His people and they in Him (John 14:2-3, 23; Gal. 4:19).  The building and dwelling places or houses that are eternally secure for the child of God, have to do with the building up of the NC Temple/the Church.  No man can plunder the riches of this heavenly Temple/Most Holy Place of God (Rev. 21:16).  God through Moses exercised dominion over Egypt and spoiled their gold which was used to beautify the Tabernacle. God did the same through David and Solomon to build the Temple in which even the floor was even made of gold.  However, one greater than Solomon (Jesus) has come to redeem His Temple/People with His precious blood which is more valuable than gold (Psalm 49:6-9; 1 Peter 1:18-19, 23-25).  It is the wealth of God given faith which adorns this Temple and comes through Her gates (Isaiah 60; 1 Peter 1:7-9).  He is the eternal Precious Corner Stone and through faith in Him, we become precious living stones and the jewels which adorn the New Creation (1 Peter 2; Revelation 21:18ff.).    
The “planting of vineyards” and eating of its “fruit” has reference to the planting of God’s Church (the NC Israel of God) whereby the apostles and the Holy Spirit labored and watered it continually so that it never ceases to bear fruit to God (Isaiah 27:2-6; 35, 44; Matthew 21:41-43; John 15; 1 Cor. 3; Gal. 5).  They enjoy long the works of their hands, because after they die they do not go to a waiting place, but “their works/fruit do follow them” (cf. Rev. 14:13).
Some Postmillennial Partial Preterists suggest that a part of the “ongoing” and “literal phase” of the restoration of the creation motif of the prophets, involves men beginning to live longer than they had a hundred years ago and that this is “proof” that we will live to be 950 years old one day – “as the days of a tree are the days of my people.”  The Church/New Man in union with Christ (The Tree of Life) has already lived for a thousand years in and unto the NC eternal age (Revelation 20-22).[4]  As John Gill suggests, “The Targum, Septuagint, and Arabic versions, render it, “as the days of the tree of life;” “…The allusion may be to the tree of life in paradise, and may be expressive of the long life of good men in this state; and as the tree of life was typical of Christ, who is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon him, it may denote that eternal life his people have by him.” (emphasis added).
The average long life of man is still 70-80 years just as Moses said (Psalm 90:10).  There is no exegetical or scientific evidence that would suggest that man is going to live to be a literal 900-1000 years old and that this is an “ongoing” or “not yet” fulfillment for the Church to enjoy as a fulfillment for the “healing of the nations.”       
23  They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.
Paul and the first century churches temporary eschatological “labour” (pains, persecutions in preaching the gospel, and groaning under “the death” of Adamic sin), were not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58; Romans 5-8; Gal. 4:19; 2 Cor. 3-5:5).  Their temporary labour pain would result in a nation being brought forth in one day – Zion/Jerusalem (Isa.  66:8). The “seed” and “offspring” are Christian converts – the true seed of the Abrahamic covenant (Isa. 53:10–Isa. 56:4ff./Acts 8; Gal. 3:29).              
24  And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.
The prayers of the saints for vindication and redemption/rewards of the New Creation were soon answered (Luke 17-18; Rev. 6:10-11; 20-22:10-12).   
25  The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.
Because many simply assume that the physics of the planet changed along with the dietary habits of lions and wolves after Adam sinned, it is also falsely assumed that all this needs to be restored as it once was as an “ongoing fulfillment.”  Therefore, many Evangelicals and Postmillennial Partial Preterists believe this “physical effect” of the fall will be restored (along with literal 900 year old ages).  I beg to differ. 
Older commentators understood these peaceful animal passages such as (Isaiah 11:6-9) to be a description of the peace the gospel produces among men – Jew and Gentile.  They had it right!  But because of their futurism and faulty presuppositions in Genesis, they also were forced into literalizing these passage of literal animals with “ongoing,” “physical phases,” when God’s creation would be finally restored.  The passage has nothing to do with “lion tamers” or lions becoming vegetarians as an ongoing reversal of the physical effects of the fall.    
Beloved, do not be deceived, Postmillennial Partial Preterism is not Biblical Preterism.  It is carnal futurism both in the timing and nature of fulfillment – plain and simple.  The “first” heavens and earth have passed away, the new is here, the healing of the nations is taking place, and it won’t be realized in an “not yet” of 900 year old naked men (fig leaves were a “physical effect” of Adam’s sin – right?) running around taming vegetarian lions and watching their children playing with poisonous snakes!            

[1] James Jordan, THROUGH NEW EYES Developing a Biblical View of the World, Brentwood, TN., 1988), 270-271.  Kenneth Gentry (multi-authored book), FOUR VIEWS OF THE BOOK OF REVELATION, Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1998), 89.  Peter J. Leithart, THE PROMISE OF HIS APPEARING AN EXPOSITION OF  SECOND PETER, (Moscow, ID:  Canon Press, 2004).    
[3] Gentry, DOMINION, Ibid., 538.  James Jordan, THE HANDWRITING ON THE WALL A Commentary on the Book of Daniel, (Powder Springs, GA:  American Vision 2007) 618-628.  Leithart, PROMISE, Ibid., 95.  
[4] See my chapter and response to Keith Mathison in, House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology a Preterist Response to When Shall These Things Be?” (Ramona, CA:  Vision Publishing, 2009), 122-123.

Tongues, Prophecy and Knowledge "Ceased" in AD 70 – A Study of "That Which is Perfect" (1 Cor. 13:8-12)

By: Michael J. Sullivan

It is my purpose in this article to tackle an issue that I struggled with a lot as a young Christian–namely 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 and the abiding or cessation of the miraculous gifts of tongues and prophecy. Are they for today or have they ceased? As a young Christian my Pastor was Chuck Smith (Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa), but I also briefly attended an Assembly of God College and as well began attending John Wimber’s church (The Vineyard). So in my walk with the Lord, I have had a wide range of “experience” within Pentecostal and Charismatic churches and institutions. As I began to grow in my understanding of God’s Word and His grace in my life, I became more Reformed or Sovereign Grace in my thinking. As I moved more into Reformed and Sovereign Grace circles, the less I saw “tongues” being spoken. Yet at the same time, I was not getting the exegetical evidence from Acts 2, 1 Corinthians 13, and Matthew 28:18-20/Mark 16:15-20 that I needed to be 100% convinced that these gifts had ceased. I had experienced the same frustration while briefly attending John MacArthur’s church (Grace Community) and The Master’s College. After many years of prayer over this subject, God led me to the preterist view of Bible prophecy to settle my mind and heart on this issue once and for all. Therefore, it is my purpose in this article to comfort and help others with the comfort God has given me through a correct understanding of His Word.

My proposition is simple — Christ promised to return within the lifetime and generation of the first century Church (Mt. 10:22-23, 16:27-28; Lk. 21:20-32) and He in fact did keep that promise. The New Testament inspired authors bore witness to the testimony of their Lord’s teaching (Romans 13:11-12, 16:20; 1 Peter 4:5-7; James 5:7-9; Hebrews 8:13-10:37; Revelation 1:1, 3:11; 10:6-7, 22:6-7, 10-12, 20) that He would in fact return in a “very little while” and would “not tarry.” Therefore, in this article, I will defend that “that which is perfect” and the “face to face” “knowledge” of 1 Corinthians 13:10-12, are references to Christ’s return and the arrival of the new heavens and earth by AD 70 (cf. Revelation 22:4). In so defending this position, it is my sincere prayer to help those ensnared in the false teachings of Charismatic and Pentecostal doctrine. This would also include those within the Reformed community such as John Piper and the churches that have been planted through his ministry.

Let’s begin with how Reformed and Evangelical Charismatic’s and Pentecostal’s understand and interpret 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 and then we will move into how others have sought to teach that the gifts have ceased for us today. Does either party make exegetically credible claims? Is it possible that both parties can be both right and wrong at the same time? If so, what pieces of this exegetical puzzle are missing to bridge the gap in this debate? Continue reading “Tongues, Prophecy and Knowledge "Ceased" in AD 70 – A Study of "That Which is Perfect" (1 Cor. 13:8-12)”

The Binding of Satan.

by Don K Preston

“Satan is bound?!? Why that is ridiculous; just look around. There is evil, temptation, suffering, and immorality. Satan cannot be bound if these things are present.”

This is a typical response to the contention of realized eschatology that Jesus has fully conquered Satan and destroyed his power. We well recognize the emotional response such a suggestion evokes. But we kindly challenge the reader to consider for a moment the exciting and comforting concept that Jesus has indeed cast Satan into hell and broken his power. Would it disturb you to know that Satan can have no power over you? Would it be upsetting to know that God has fulfilled his word and gives everlasting life now? Is it unsettling to know we can truly overcome the world? Would your life be more confident and victorious if you knew that Satan had no authority to accuse you before God?

Why Did Jesus Come?
Did Jesus come to bind Satan and destroy his power? Think carefully now for the answer has tremendous significance. Let us see what the Scriptures say about Jesus’ reason for coming. In Matthew 12:22-30, Jesus cast a demon out of a man. The Pharisees insisted it was by the power of the Devil. Jesus logically demonstrated the fallacy of Satan casting out Satan. He then challenged them “how can one enter into a strong man’s house and spoil his goods except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.” Jesus’ power to cast out demons demonstrated two facts: the imminence of the kingdom (v. 28); and the binding of Satan (v. 29). Satan was being bound by Jesus!

When the Lord sent seventy disciples out on a “missionary tour” he empowered them to cast out demons, heal the sick, and raise the dead (Luke 10). Their message was “The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you” (v. 9). When they returned they were ecstatic: “Lord even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.” He responded “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” Reader was Satan being bound? Was Satan suffering defeat? Was Jesus foreseeing his utter destruction? Was Satan only suffering a temporary set-back or was something even worse in store for him? Continue reading “The Binding of Satan.”

Cross-Examining the Critics of Preterism

Edward Hassertt

A Response To Kenneth Gentry

When addressing the scholars of the Reformed community, care must be taken to get our facts, logic, and scripture correct. Unfortunately, those scholars do not take the same careful approach in dealing with Preterist Theology or the people involved. These scholars play loose with the facts, use logical fallacies, special pleading, and personal attacks. What is even more disturbing is their pointed criticism of the “difference” in theology shown by preterists when even those organized to argue against it (e.g., the contributing authors in Mathison’s book) cannot agree on the interpretation or application of the key eschatological texts of Holy Scripture. Despite the overwhelming fact that they cannot agree on the most simple aspect of their own eschatology, these glass-house dwellers try to dispel their own disunity by casting stones at those trying to be biblically consistent with their theology and hermeneutic. If internal confusion and hasty attack were sound argumentative techniques, the responses to preterism would be daunting. As it is, however, they represent nothing more than a loud, shrill, persistent (but not ultimately significant nor convincing) critique of preterist theology.

As an introduction to the type of criticism being leveled against biblical preterism I will first deal specifically with the introduction to the Keith A. Mathison edited book, “When Shall These Things Be”, penned by R.C. Sproul, Jr. I will follow with a thorough cross-examination of the testimony offered in the chapter authored by Kenneth Gentry. In the end the evidence will show Continue reading “Cross-Examining the Critics of Preterism”

Can God Tell Time?

Don K Prestoon
Don K Preston
Almost two thousand years ago John the Baptizer said “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” Matthew 3:2. Jesus, Son of God, echoed those words “the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” Matthew 4:17. The Prince of Peace sent his disciples out to preach the same message, Luke 10. Jesus clearly said the kingdom, and other events as we shall see below, were at hand.
A common response to these Biblical statements of the imminence of the kingdom in the first century is this: “Well, yes, the Bible said the kingdom was coming soon, but remember, ‘One day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day.’ God doesn’t see time as man does; He is above time.”
Is there anything wrong with these statements? Well, if God cannot tell time there isn’t! But if God can read a calendar, and if God truly meant to communicate with man there is something drastically wrong! Essentially, what these statements say is that while God said the kingdom was “at hand,” God cannot tell time, therefore the “at hand” time statements mean nothing at all! Continue reading “Can God Tell Time?”