Stephen Whitsett BA
Giving an orthodox apologetic answer for Preterism / Dispensationalism
Passing of the Earth
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.. Math 21.17
Here is our problem; Don Preston says when quoting this scripture.
“Did you notice that Jesus said heaven and earth had to pass away before the law could pass?!?”
But when we allow scripture to
interpretation scripture or even as important we take the literal words and the meaning of those words at face value. If the plain meaning of the words used convey a reasonable thought or understanding then the words used are not "figurative" as figurative language is words used that cannot possible mean what they literally say.
“But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void”. Math 16.17
When we understand that Jesus is using a hyperbole we then understand that heaven and earth do not have to pass away in order for Christ to fulfill the law. If this first point is not followed all argument that proceeds becomes moot.
“If we understand the "heaven and earth" as literal, physical heaven and earth then this means the Old Law is still in effect. Simply put the argument would go like this: If heaven and earth had to pass before the Old Law could pass; and if heaven and earth refers to literal, physical heaven and earth, then, since literal, physical heaven and earth still exist, [have not passed], it must be true that the Old Law has not passed”.
He creates a false dichotomy based on the false premise. In 2
Peter 3.7 it does say this literal earth will pass away in the last day, the Judgment day of Christ, the Great white throne,
THE HEAVENS AND EARTH DO NOT HAVE TO PASS AWAY.... IT IS EASIER FOR THE HEAVEN AND EARTH TO PASS AWAY THAN FOR ONE SMALL PART OF THE LAW TO BE VOIDED OUT WITH OUT BEING COMPLETED. the TERMS MUST BE COMPLETED FOR THE OLD COVENANT TO END.
“But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the Day of Judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on
it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found
for them”. Rev 20.11
He then goes on and tries to explain why “heaven and Earth” is not literally the created heavens and the earth but fails to observes the context of 2 Peter 3 in the comparison he draws of the old earth “perishing” under the flood waters, by the same word this earth is stored up for destruction by fire.
What “perishes” is all the ungodly and the works of man,
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then
the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be
burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it
will be burnt up.” 2 Peter 3.10
In the context of Mathew 16 the "heaven and earth" that are being talked about IS the literally creation. It easier for the creation of God to end than for the terms of the Old Covenant to become void or annulled without being completed or fulfilled. In no way is this verse saying the heaven and earth have to end in order for the Old Covenant to end. This would tad amount to be saying, "The Old Covenant law has to pass away before the Old covenant law can pass away" or "the Old Covenant will pass away when the Old covenant passes away."
So in no way can we substitute the "false" metaphor of Heaven and earth being the Old covenant as
Preterist claim is what 2 Peter 3 is talking about. This is an example of the inconsistency of preterism. If the figurative meaning cannot be applied in every instance of the literal words used then the figurative or metaphor fails.
In trying to apply the “new Heavens and earth” as a metaphor for the New Covenant becomes a contrived forced meaning applied from outside of scripture as no scripture every associated the two. We understand the Old Covenant passed on the cross and the new one was written in His blood, a truth Don fails also to realize, that even though the Jews continued to sacrifice after his death and resurrection it had no efficiency to remove sin. The Law and all of its ceremonies passed away when the temple veil was torn in two. It was the Jewish outward system then of worship that ended in 70 AD, not the Old Covenant.
Again because of his faulty premise he comes to another false conclusion,
“Since the giving of Covenant created "heaven and earth" the New Heaven and Earth of Christ would not be completed until the New Covenant was completely revealed. It therefore follows that if the New Heavens and Earth of Christ has not arrived then CHRIST'S NEW COVENANT HAS NOT YET BEEN FULLY REVEALED!”
The New Covenant never created a new heaven and earth as the term is always used either for creation itself in Genesis 1.1Open in Logos Bible Software (if available) or concerning the people who live on the face of the “earth, under the heavens”. The New Covenant was completely revealed especially forty days later when Peter gave his first sermon and the church was born under the terms of the New Covenant Peter explained!
So based on his failed hermeneutics and associating scripture with the wrong scripture and his inability to identify hyperbole we get a false statement that says,
“In Isaiah 51:5-6O God predicted the "heaven and earth" would vanish. This is the same "heaven and earth" he had established at Sinai. This is not a prediction of the passing of literal heaven and earth--it is a prediction of the passing of the Old World of Israel so that the New Covenant World of Messiah would be established. We believe this heaven and earth that Isaiah said would perish is the same heaven and earth Jesus said must pass before the Old Law would pass”.
Again Isaiah points us right back to 2 Peter 3 and Revelation 20.11the destruction of the physical earth. As Isaiah 65 is painted again Revelation 20-21 there is a new creation, it becomes a New Heaven and earth literally.
“My righteousness draws near, my salvation has gone out, and my arms will judge the peoples; the coastlands hope for me, and for my arm they wait. 6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die in like manner but my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed”
We do acknowledge Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD for the full measure of her sin had come but this is judgment only on Jerusalem and not the whole world. We also acknowledge the Old passed away and the new came in but never does the bible use “heaven and earth” as a metaphor for the New and Old covenant. Again this a contrivance placed on scripture by Don Preston theology. It his assertion when “heaven and earth” are used it is about the old and new covenant.
He cites Hebrews 12:25-28 as part of his proof but a careful examination of the whole text is the literal passing of the “physical creation” Because of a New Covenant with better promises has been made. The two phrases are side by side indicating a relationship, “we have” “Because”, “we have a kingdom that cannot be shaken “because” of the New Covenant’.
How do we know the Old Heaven and Earth have not passed away besides the obvious facts
the earth did not burn up by fire in judgment from God in 70 AD...
" 4He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 5And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
"4They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
In the economy of the New heaven and earth the curse has been removed, literally and not just figuratively. As we will see him face to face is not a "metaphor" for having a relationship with Jesus on earth. No man has seen God, but when we are with him we will see him face to face. In the heaven economy there is no pain, sorrow, or even death as death is abolished, the last enemy of man, as we were not created for death. With Christ in the New Jerusalem there is no growing older and suffering the pains of old age and of a frail body with all its weakness and suffering that we have to endure. All of these things are of the physical realm and not of the "spiritual" condition of man, or are these terms ever used in a metaphorical way to describe mans fallen nature in scripture.
Further it says
" I saw the holy city, new
Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride
adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne
saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell
with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with
them as their God." Rev 21.2-3
When we dwell with him we will see him face to face, as God exists his place from heaven. To say that we are living in the new heaven and earth is to say the heavens have passed away and God now lives with man on earth, there is no more heaven as i not the place where God chooses
to dwell with man. Where was man created to live? Here on earth in the splendor of his creation that was created for us. The "new" is a remade to be like new or to "not be found in the same state as before"
The Hope then is the redemption of a body that becomes immortal and imperishable that can and will live in the creation as Adam lived in the Garden.
The true "paradise restored" where the physical world as well as the physical world is restored to the state in which God created all things and said "is good".
In his next argument we have a severe problem,
“Jesus said when all the Law was fulfilled the Law would pass--and the Bible is very emphatic in telling us when all the Law would be fulfilled… The last book in the Bible confirms that all prophecy was to be fulfilled at the fall of Jerusalem… … Since Israel's heaven and earth would pass when Jerusalem and the temple was destroyed, and since all things would be fulfilled when Jerusalem and the temple was destroyed, we conclude that is the time when the Old Law would completely pass”.
As we have stated above he erroneously lumps “law” and prophecy together as he believes “prophets” means prophecy. With his answering four objections we maintain his objections are still based on his flawed thinking and hermeneutics about Heaven and earth not literally passing away, and “making it all "figurative” for Old and New covenant. He fails to see the real.
Objection one; “end of the world did not happen and Jesus did not come in the fall of Jerusalem.” The end of the world is on the final Day of Judgment of the Great White throne, and Christ did not physically come in His “Parousia”. But since Don believes ALL prophecy has to be fulfilled and he cannot see Jesus said it was all prophecy about Him that was to be fulfilled,
“Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to
you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the
Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Luke
The second objection cited says the Law could not have passed at the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD because Paul says the Law was nailed to the cross of Jesus when he was crucified, Colossians 2:14. As we answered above this objection that the Old did pass away on the cross, it was the vain practice that continued until God destroyed the temple to get it across to them it was over.
Then from 2 Corinthians 3 he calls the “passing of the Old Covenant” a hope as if Paul is indicating the passing away of the Old was still a “hope’. Careful examination of the text revealed “hope” is “we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit”...not the passing of the Old Covenant.
We are saying the “Lawfully passed at the Cross to mean that Jesus was saying his death was the fulfillment of all things necessary for the passing of the Law!” Don Narrows down the implication as we are saying it is only the “passion”, his suffering that must be fulfilled which was on the cross but we believe it was a fulfilling of the whole law that brought him to the cross, His sinless life was a fulfilling of the requirements of the Law in order to be blameless in the eye’s of the law who condemned the guilty but we know Christ was not guilty. So no, we never said it was about His “passion”.
“Even those who believe the Law ended at Calvary do not believe Jesus entered his glory at the Cross; they place that at Pentecost”
This is not true, we believe Jesus entered His glory when he sat down at the right hand of the father,
“I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work
that you gave me to do. 5And now, Father, glorify me in your own
presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”
Now Don cites Acts 3 to prove Christ had more to fulfill which it true,
“Whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring
all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets
long ago.” Acts 3.21
But what he has failed to understand, His return, and the rest of Revelation is yet for a future beyond 70 AD. He erroneously adds, the preaching unto the ends of the world as something that we try to fit on the cross, but as we said what he fulfilled on the cross was the “law of Mosses”, not all prophecy. Since he believes all prophecy has to be fulfilled, at 70 AD then the law continued until then.
“In addition, in Luke 24:44-47 Jesus said that not only must he suffer and enter his glory, but that "remission and repentance of sins should be preached in all nations beginning at Jerusalem". THE FULFILLMENT OF ALL THINGS INCLUDED WORLD EVANGELISM; PATENTLY THIS DID NOT HAPPEN AT THE CROSS OR PENTECOST! - Of course it didn't.. But neither was 70 AD the whole world evangelized,
Now we get to the nuts and bolts
“Many try to negate the force of Matthew 5:17-18 by saying what Jesus really meant was that he would fulfill all the legal and moral mandates of the Old Law and the Old Law would then pass; but he did not really mean all PROPHECIES had to be fulfilled. Thus, in this interpretation there is a distinction between the Law and the Prophets”.
Yes scriptures make a distinction between prophecy and the prophets.
“This interpretation flatly contradicts Luke 24:44 ! In that text Jesus said "all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses, and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning me". Reader, you cannot delineate between "the law" and the "prophets" in Matthew 5 and then appeal to Luke 24 to prove Jesus fulfilled just "the law" in his passion! (This is what Don adds of his own thinking) Luke 24 speaks about the law, the prophets, and the Psalms and Jesus said all things had to be fulfilled! If Jesus was saying he had to fulfill the things written about his death, and if all he had to fulfill was "the Law" as distinct from the prophets, then patently,”
What Don fails to acknowledge or ignore is the words, “concerning me” of in other translations, “that everything written about me”! Jesus came to fulfill all scriptures that concerned Him which included his death