I have a lot of USDA work today, so I'm turning the Ticker over to a new guest author, Paul M. League, an earnest layperson who is investigating his faith more closely -- as a disciple should! He has taken an interest in preterism of late and has composed this essay on its practical implications. There is a link below to this essay's version on his personal site, which includes some references I could not readily reproduce here.
Mankind’s search for “the (absolute) truth” has been historically both satisfied and proven through one, and only one book; namely, the “Old & New” Testament Bible of the Judeo-Christian heritage.
The Bible is considered by many to be the best preserved body of work of antiquity of any, and this is, in part, due to the strong tradition of the most consistent and error free translations of it down through the ages by scribes, scholars and others. This fact being irrefutably confirmed with the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls, where nearly whole books of the Bible proved that current translations had every material point correctly recorded. The most distinguishing aspect of this phenomena, however, is that it is the only book with a hundred percent accuracy in predicting both near and far future events, and in some cases, hundreds and thousands of years before their occurrence.
The most historical account and example of Biblical inerrancy and fulfilled prophetic pronouncements occurred with the incarnation of the prophesied Biblical Messiah, Jesus Christ, when, in the first century AD, he was born of a virgin mother, began preaching around the age of 13, and went onto to perform many miracles culminating in His later crucifixion, around the age of 33, with historical evidence confirming His Resurrection back to life three-days later. His tomb was heavily guarded, yet was found empty after His fatal torment on the cross and 3-days having been entombed. After about 40 days, where over 500 persons of His time personally witnessed His death to life triumph, He was seen to ascend to heaven, as attested to in the Bible, where He now reigns, in His Millennial Kingdom, as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, the God of all creation (“Millennial Reign” simply meaning a time period of long and undetermined length, and an event that began around the time just following His ascension in the 1st century AD). In theological circles, that time period is referred to as the “end of the age”, the age of law being thereafter replaced with the “age of grace” where salvation from evil and separation from our Creator God is secured through justification by faith and belief in the life and work of the incarnated Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior.
A careful study of the Bible reveals that all prophecies of God have come true exactly as they were made and documented in the Bible; however, often time prophecies were not understood well by contemporaries of the time, or subsequent generations, and so too is the case with the incarnation, death, resurrection and subsequent ascension of Jesus Christ. Because His generation did no better in understanding many of His prophetic pronouncements, such as contained in His famed Olivet Discourse, there remains confusion about all of what exactly He predicted and the time frame within which its components were to be fulfilled.
To the rescue came various theological interpreters trying to make sense out of it all from Gnosticism, Preterism and Dispensationalism, to present day soothsayers like Tim LaHaye, who have invented such non-Scriptural imaginings as a secret second coming, pre-millennial rapture of believers and the errant end-times concept of two distinct dispensations, one having to do with the Israelites and a separate other with the Gentiles. Unfortunately, for most of these, only a form of Preterism, called orthodox or partial preterism, has proven able to accurately interpret the Bible in light of the Bible. It is of the utmost importance for mankind to understand the practical implications of this form of Preterist view.
First, this Preterist viewpoint makes it clear that not all of prophetic pronouncements contained within Christ’s Olivet Discourse and Revelation have been fulfilled yet, although, most aspects were fulfilled in the 1st Century AD following Christ’s victorious (He conquered over death as witnessed by His historical and well documented Resurrection) ascension to His Heavenly Throne. What remains then are only two things; namely, the prophesied 2nd Coming (“bodily” return) of Jesus Christ (this time as Judge of all mankind and creation) and the bodily resurrection of believers – the one true “body of Christ”, who are those who believe in Him and consists of persons from all nations and peoples of the world - to eternal life with God.
What does all this mean for us today?
Primarily it means that we don’t have to be in the dark, confused or any longer led astray about where we are in the time line of Prophecy and in the Creator’s plans for mankind in general. And, it makes clear what we are to be doing with our lives in the meantime.
Specifically, we can avoid and keep ourselves protected from the false musings of modern day end-times prognosticators like: Tim LaHaye (“Left Behind”), John Hagee, Joel C. Rosenberg , as well as against Word of Faith & Prosperity misguided preachers like: Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer , a cast of characters whose heretical teachings have been well exposed and documented by Hank Hanegraaff in his award winning “Christianity in Crisis – 21st Century” (Thomas Nelson Publishing 2008. See www.equip.org). Add to this the following:
1) You don't have to be constantly watching the news for signs of prophetic fulfillment, or be suspicious of things like debit cards or microchips (at least, not on spiritual grounds) being implanted on or in you by a so-called modern day arch-Antichrist. All you need do is to prepare yourself for Christ’s any moment return by living Godly lives in the here and now and doing Godly works of love and caring towards your fellow man, all the while centered on faith in Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord.
Orthodox Preterism, therefore, helps protect persons from errant teachings that are doing more harm in fanning the flames of an Armageddon-like scenario that, as Preterism makes very clear, was the subject of Christ’s prophetic Words but applicable to the 1st century generation to who He spoke His prophecy, and not to a 21st century generation. The Book of Revelation employs highly embellished symbolic language that represents a writing style genre that uses Old Testament imagery to communicate truths that while beneficial to mankind of all generations, was meant to convey and usher in the final phase of God’s redemptive plan for all humanity beginning in the first century AD. It also shed additional light on how the rest of the Bibles prophecies would be further fulfilled through God’s, yet future, prophesized 2nd Coming. So, whatever holocaust-like horrors man conducts since the period around 70 AD, they are not to be confused as the “Great Tribulation” of the 70 AD event predicted in the Bible that demonstrated God’s wrath on the sinners and hypocrites of His first century advent.
Orthodox Preterism, therefore, short-circuits any attempts by cults or heretical teachers, like those noted herein, to be successful in attempting to use Biblical prophecy to persuade people to their non-Biblical viewpoints. For example, the Jehovah’s Witnesses can't link themselves to the 144K saved remnant referred to in the Book of Revelation, the final Book of the Bible, if those people were the people Jesus referred to and who survived in the first century AD, but who are certainly not 21st century believers. And, Latter Day Saints (better known as Mormons), despite their acknowledged substantive history of good works, can’t validate any original prophecies from Joseph Smith’s the “Book of Mormon”, because that book is man-made and therefore not the inerrant, inspired Word of God, and because Mormons do not accept the deity of Christ, thereby contradicting the Bible itself.
Believers today will not endure a “Great Tribulation” because that tribulation occurred in Jesus' generation, the ramifications of which included the deaths of well over 1.3 million Israelites and the imprisonment of another 100,000 – a tribulation greater than any before to those who had rejected their Messiah, the very incarnate God Himself.
2) You don't have to worry about Satan, his group of fallen angels or evil spirits influencing anything in your lives. Instead, you do have to be concerned about your own sinful nature, and that of others, and its power to lead you into total rebellion and ungodly actions, the outcome being death and eternal separation from God.
Lucifer (also known as Satan or the Devil) has been bound since around the time of the victorious ascension of Christ, such that the evil we see and experience in this world is not from bad or evil spirits or the devil, but generated from and by man’s own fallen sinful nature. What is evil, and what is the cause or source of it? Since God created the world “good”, evil is nothing more than good being corrupted and man, since Satan’s being bound, not God, is the source of that corrupted good. God has set a moral standard, embedded in every person’s conscience, and it is only by that absolute moral standard that anything can be determined to be good or evil. Without God and his goodness, mankind would have nothing but a relative basis on which to judge or determine right and wrong, or morality in general (i.e. the modern day philosophy of relativism), and such a Godless conscience leads to ruin, corruption and ultimately to mass confusion and societal moral disintegration.
3) Jesus will return, but it is yet future, a yet to be completed part of His full prophecy.
Preterists make clear that Christ’s prophecy was directed to “this generation”, the generation of His time on earth during the 1st century AD, and the things that were “near” and “soon” to take place immediately after, or following, His incarnation and subsequent ascension. Everything He predicted would occur in that generation occurred, leaving only future elements of His prophecy to be fulfilled.
So, what all this means is that we are, with every passing moment, actually ever closer to the Lord’s 2nd return, His yet future prophetic 2nd Coming, which is to include the resurrection of all, living and dead, to eternal life with God or to eternal separation from God (a.k.a. “Hell”) in a new earth and new heaven.
This also means that believers (those who believe in Christ Jesus’, His incarnation to save them and who, with that belief and faith, have repented or turned from their life of sin and placed their trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior) will one day soon see their trials, tribulations and the evil in this present world, in an instant and like the blink of an eye, washed away for evermore.
More to the point, understanding the Bible for all its worth, as Orthodox/Partial Preterism helps us do, only affirms the veracity of the inerrancy of the Bible as proven through the historically verifiable fulfillment of each and every one of its prophecies in time.
“What is truth”, screeched Pontius Pilate to our Lord Jesus Christ before His sentence of crucifixion (a clear part of prophetic Scripture itself), with the Lord answering back and since, throughout the ages, I am that I am and My Every Word is Absolute Truth!
We now not only have ample proof to believe, but we are promised, as believers, the indwelling of His Holy Spirit to guide and comfort us.
We are called to test these truths of Scripture, and test we must, as this is, literally, a life and death calling. Each one of us has a choice that will lead us to a life of eternal communion or separation from our Father God. The choice is rather simple when one considers the Truths and fulfilled prophecies of the one and only Lord God Almighty and His Word Incarnate - Jesus Christ our loving Messiah & Righteous Judge – and His Word, the one and only Holy Bible.