Abstract: As in any theological discussion, having the essential Theological basics as a foundation becomes the groundwork from which the discussion takes place. In the absence of these basics, the side lacking these foundations becomes a detriment to a thorough understanding of a theological position. It will be demonstrated in this paper that Don Preston lacks these basic foundations that drive his “Covenant Creation” to the wrong conclusions. It is my goal to argue the death of Adam was to be physical death as a punishment for sin. The pronouncement of death in the curse was a point of mercy in Gods part, so that redemption of both spirit and body could occur. The pronouncement of death was a result, the consequences, of sin entering humankind. Man must die so that he can freed from the curse of sin death that works in all men.
In Don’s book, “We Shall Meet Him in the Air” he argues extensively about the death of Adam, the curse of Adam and what death did Christ experience on the cross and the implications. Don identifies the death of Adam as spiritual alienation or what is commonly called spiritual death.
Don stated, “To wrongly identify the death of Adam is to wrongly construct Eschatology”. Going back to his book he and his followers have denied that physical death is the result of Adam’s sin or the punishment they were threatened with in the garden by God. While he claims to understand the traditional view of Adam’s death he fails to recognize there are four deaths discussed and used in the Bible: (1) Physical death, the body in the grave, the spirit in hades or Sheol(2) death of the spirit in relationship to God, (3) the second death, the Lake of fire, eternal separation from God, and (4) capital punishment, death for the commission of sin as prescribed by law. The death threatened by God for eating of the tree was a capital punishment. Adam’s death is death as a punishment for sin.
Don states that when he visits Christian Universities he asks the question, “Did Adam and Eve die the day they ate of the fruit? Inevitable the answer is no, Yes God said they would die on that day and satan said no they wouldn’t. In the end, they did not die so satan was correct and God was the liar (if its physical death). This presents a conundrum. He then presents satan as a liar so how could he have been lying? Unless he was lying about a physical death would be taking place and not a spiritual one.
In answer, satan is a liar but he always mixes truth with a lie so that the lie sounds reasonable. In the garden when he confronted Eve he said, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?”
Eve responded, “the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is during the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.” Satan twisted the words and Eve correctly replied but then added the phrase about “not touching or they will die”. What satan presented was a half-truth, that they were not to eat of the one tree not “any” tree. In his response satan stated, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” And in this statement, was all truth.
God’s command was followed by a consequence. “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 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.” The death God spoke about is death due to sin, punishment for a crime committed.
The Hebrew for “surely die” is, “מֹ֥ות תָּמ֖וּת” – Mowt tamut – in every case where the phrasing is used it is roughly translated, “he shall surely die, or he shall surely be put to death”. A common phrase regarding punishment for sin. It was not a promise that one day you will grow old and then die which is physical death. Now we ask: Was Adam put to death for his crime? No.
“And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.” While I have come across some who have heard of this explanation they deny its validity. Don does not even deal with it in his book. In the sacrificial system, an animal was provided to die in the place of the person. This becomes the shadow of God perfect justice and mercy in the Law of Moses, that is consummated in the Atonement of Christ. If God had killed them, his plans would have ended. Satan knew this. He understood the consequences, he knew they could not have been killed or God’s plans for mankind would have ended. (satan himself was not “killed” for his rebellion)
In the curse pronounced by God in Genesis 3:19, “By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.” Physical death becomes the result of sin and because of the curse is placed on Adam, then through all men death reigns, in that they all will physically one day die unless killed by some unnatural means or as a punishment for a crime. The body is mortal (Romans 8:11) which means subject to death, perishable like a piece of fruit. The older it gets the more wrinkled and dried out it gets until nothing is left. The soul or spirit of man has never been described in any similar terms. Being a spirit, it is not subject to death or perishability, it cannot simply grow old and one-day die. The spirit can be killed by God, and the second death is eternal death in the lake of fire, to be thrown into hell, “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” a never-ending punishment. Mortality and Perishability are terms only used concerning the body/sarx/flesh of man.
Christ then was raised from physical death and not spiritual death. Jesus being fully man and fully God, having the divine nature (Colossians 2:9), cannot spiritual die on the cross nor was he spiritually alienated from God, and without bearing the guilt of sin, became sin, meaning he bore our ugly sin in his body, the cause for Father God to turn his back. Not because somehow Jesus spiritual died and had to be saved or reborn. To claim Christ spiritually died, is to claim Christ was guilty for his own sin.
Christ then being the firstfruits is of a different harvest than what had gone on before where Lazarus and others like him who were raised, had died again. Jesus, death no longer having dominion over him mean he cannot die again. Even though he was raised in a flesh and bones body he was no longer subject to death. A point Don Preston emphatically denies, and claims Jesus was raised in the selfsame “fallen” body he had died in which mean then, like in his preresurrection body was subject to death, and death had dominion over him. This simply contradicts scriptures, “We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.”.
Physical Death being an enemy of God, is the last enemy described in I Corinthians 15. “Spiritual death” is the first death defeated, by his stripes spiritual death is reversed, we are made alive in Christ through his ministry of reconciliation and become a brand-new creation on the inside. So, spiritual death is not the last enemy as it was the first thing defeated in his resurrection. Since man still physically dies, this death, is the last enemy to be abolished.
So, the curse of death is the pronouncement of physical death on Adam (and to his descendants) was an act of mercy, in limiting man’s years (Genesis 6:3), man would not remain in his fallen state forever. The point of Physical death was to release man from the sin death nature that works with in the fallen body, the carnal man that is enmity with Christ. By death the cycle of sin that produces death is broken and redemption becomes possible. If a person dies he is no longer bound to that which had power over him while he lived, like marriage. If the wife or husband dies the marriage comes to an end. So, if we die in our marriage to sin and are raised to new life, sin no longer has power (authority, control) over us, we are no longer spiritually dead. (Romans 6-8)
The great apologist C.S. Lewis’s wrote in his book, “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” a theological analogy of this principle. Aslan, after being resurrected explains, “The willing victim who committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the table would crack and death itself would start to work backwards.”
Jesus did not experience the curse of Adam, dying a natural death from old age, but died a physical death imposed by judgment for sin. Therefore, Jesus is the first to be resurrected from death incurred by judgment from sin. All men are judged to be sinners, so all men must also die as a punishment for their sin. Christ bore our punishment on the cross and so died in our place (Substitutionary). Therefore, he was the first to be resurrected from the death of punishment for sin. In him all died, so we are united in his death and, so we will be united in a resurrection like his. No man was resurrected after dying for their sin, Christ was the first, after dying for our sin. The saints in Mathew 27:52-53 are the firstfruits of a new kind of resurrection in which sinners are united in a resurrection like his. At his coming we who are alive will be changed, and those who have died in Christ will rise, and both groups will meet him in the air.
Responding to Don specifically
Having laid the correct theological position above, we can now turn to Don’s specific comments and logic and demonstrate where he fails.
if Jesus’ death was truly substitutionary and if forgiveness of sin is real, then the natural question is, as he posed it, “the child of God should never die physically. The reality that even the most faithful child of God dies physically falsifies the idea that physical death is the death that Christ came to defeat.” I can only say, Amen! (this is Sam’s quote from his preterists days)
As we demonstrated above there are several deaths a person is subject to. In substitutionary atonement Jesus suffered the physical death due to a punishment do us for sin, we were charged with a crime, convicted, and sentenced to death. Christ willingly died for that sin as our sin was nailed to the cross. This is the death he died to on the cross. He did not die to take away the death of turning to dust on the cross.
Let me repeat that: JESUS DID NOT DIE TO TAKE AWAY THE CURSE OF physical DEATH, turning to dust, but he came to die a substitutionary death for our sin that resulted in our prosecution and conviction with a death sentence. There is no reason to think that physical death that resulted from the curse should be reversed. Physical death is necessary to free us from this “body of death”, so they we may be raised to new life, freed from this mortal body.
Much of what follows after is based on this lack of knowledge, until we get to his next pertinent point.
Notice the glaring contradiction in Frost’s theology here. Physical death (and only physical death) is the Adamic Curse. Physical death is “the last enemy”– the enemy of the child of God! The child of God dies as a result “of Adam’s sin and our own” and yet, YET, Frost says “death is gain.” But, how in the name of reason can physical death be “gain” if the child of God is dying under the Curse of Adam, dying as a direct result of sin? And, how can the child of God go directly to heaven (As Frost affirms) when we die, if we die under the Curse of Sin and Death???
It was Paul who said, “to die is gain” and so what did Paul mean by that statement? To physically die means we gain or attain to the Resurrection of the dead in which the mortal body is raised to life, freed from the sin death that works in our mortal bodies. We are now no longer slaves to sin under its control and power but is still works with in us as Paul articulated so well in Romans 7, 8.
And, how can the child of God go directly to heaven (As Frost affirms) when we die, if we die under the Curse of Sin and Death???
Because the penalty for our sin was paid for which has nothing to do with dying physically from old age, as Christ did not die from old age on the cross, turning to dust, but he was killed for sin, the penalty of our sin and not his own. We physically die as a result of the curse that was passed on to all men because of Adam sin. Because the penalty for sin was paid, which restores us to right relationship in Christ, we now have full access to the throne, as we are made righteous in Christ. Again, the curse is a result of Adam’s sin to come upon all men, their fallen state, not a result of our own sin. Meaning the curse was not pronounced because I am a sinner, it was because Adam was a sinner the curse was pronounced to come upon all men after Adam.
What is basically happening in Don’s discussion, he is simply ignorant of the theology I explained above and as Sam Frost is articulating the same here, but because of the gaps in Don theological knowledge Sam’s point goes over his head.
In Don’s next main point, he states,
It is logically necessary that Jesus spoke here of both physical death – “though he may die, he shall live.” All men, righteous and unrighteous, die physically. It is unavoidable. However, if we make Jesus’ words, “whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die”– refer to physical death, it becomes totally ridiculous and impossible. Jesus was not speaking of never dying physically. Isn’t that self-evident?
“whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die – What Jesus was referring to is the idea that whoever is living and believes in Christ, – he will die physically but he will never die the second death. His soul will never be separated from the “love of Christ” and life in Christ. To be absent from the body means to be present with the Lord for those who are in Christ and were made alive in him. In the resurrection the saints are raised to new life, now immortal. The believer who is alive is changed and made immortal, no longer subject to physical death, that is the victory.
In his next set of questions, he again articulates the same problem,
Let me ask here, if we, as Christians, die as a result of Adam’s sin and our own, are we not receiving the “wages of sin”?
No, the wages of sin was paid for on the cross, therefore the death we physically die has nothing to do with our sin or Adams sin, but we are dying because of the curse that was placed upon us as a result of Adam sin. A consequence follows after, there is the penalty of sin and there is the consequence for sin. The two are not the same. The rest of his questions then are rendered moot.
And if we are receiving the wages of sin, how then can we receive the gift of God which is eternal life? How can our physical death be anything other than experiencing the Death Curse of Adam? And, how can experiencing the full result of “the law of sin and death” in any way be “gain”?
Our physical death is experiencing the curse death of Adam, it is not experiencing the punishment for sin, we do not die as a punishment for sin or Christ would have died for nothing if his blood cannot atone for our sin n that we have to pay our own wages. Again, Christ bore our punishment for our sin upon the cross. We are not dying for our sin.
In all of Don’s arguments the point is that he is making is that since Christ died on the cross for the penalty of sin, which alienates us from God, was about spiritual death not physical, because if it was about physical death, then we would no longer physically die under the curse of sin and death. Therefore, the death that Christ came to die for was spiritual death, not physical.
I hope the readers of this can catch the incredible power of what is going on.
Don states claiming this is Sam position,
Since Jesus did not die a substitutionary spiritual death, then he did die a substitutionary physical death! Unfortunately for Frost, that then raises once again the issues noted above – why do those in the power of his substitutionary physical death still die?
So again, we go back to our primary premise. Jesus died for the penalty of sin, to remove it from us, NOT the curse of death. If he had to remove the curse of death the physical death would have ended. But he died for the penalty of sin, the punishment that came on us all for our sin. All of Don’s ending question are based on this ignorance of the death of Adam, and the curse of Adam being two different things.
Going back and trying to respond to every objection to Sam’s position is resolved in the primary premise. Even though Don uses the language of Penal substitution and curse of death, he conflates them to be the same thing. That is the problem with Don’s whole position.
See Don asks,
He has to explain how the child of God is (supposedly) truly forgiven of sin, and yet, must experience “the wages of sin” (physical death), just like the worst of the reprobates.
The child of God is truly forgiven because Christ died for the penalty of sin placed on us, which is the wages of sin, BUT physical death by growing old and turning to dust is not the wages of sin or John would have said so, Instead growing old and physically dying is the result of the curse, the consequence of sin entering in to the nature of humankind, the fallen carnal lowly man.
 Preston, Don D.Div. We shall Meet Him in the Air JaDon Management, Ardmore, OK 2010 307 Kindle Edition
 Unnatural means, sickness, disease, car accident, or any accident where a death resulted.