When I say, "Don't let them take your Bible," I'm not talking about the government, that's not happening yet. I'm talking about people who call themselves Preterists, who want to take away your Bible. They are cessationist, they believe "everything" ended in AD 70. And I mean everything, which includes, salvation, sin, spiritual death, the Church, the Law. It was all about Israel, and it all ended in AD 70.
You may have heard me say in the past that it's getting to the point that I don' t want to associate with the term "Preterist." My eschatology is definitely a fulfilled eschatology, but there are some within the movement that give it a very bad name. And when these people who hold some very unbiblical views call themselves Preterists, I don't want to be associated with that. I have received several questions as of late about a doctrine that is circulating, mostly on the internet, that is taking the principle of "audience relevance" to a place where none of the Bible even applies to us today. They are saying that the Bible is written solely and entirely to national Israel. They are accusing us of using audience relevance only for the time statements. One of these folks said, "Amazing how people pay lip service to 'audience relevance' but then ignore the meaning completely." What they mean is that to them the Bible isn't relevant to today's audience. Let's talk about audience relevance.
One of the rules of Hermeneutics is audience relevance. This means that whatever a passage meant, or whatever words spoken in Scripture meant, it meant, or had direct application, to the original intended audience.
To demonstrate that many totally ignore this principle, notice what one pastor wrote: "You know the Bible is timeless. Let's look at these Scriptures as though Paul had just sent an e-mail to the Neptune Church of God."
Holding this view will keep you from understanding the Bible. I think that most Christians view the Bible this way—like it just arrived in the mail for them. But we must understand that if we disengage the original audience from the Scriptures, then we can make any passage mean whatever we want, or make them apply to whomever we want. Whenever we read the Scriptures, we must ask ourselves, "Who is this person talking or writing directly to?" We must remember that the Bible is a collection of personal letters and history books written by real people, to real people, in real time, and with real time contexts. For instance, in the book of Philippians the Apostle Paul wrote the following:
But I hope in the Lord Yeshua to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. Philippians 2:19 NASB
Does this verse teach us that "we" are supposed to be still waiting on Timothy? No! Why not? Because we correctly understand audience relevance, and that this was a personal letter from Paul to a real church in Philippi in A.D.62 about an event (sending Timothy) that was imminent to them, not to us. We correctly understand the time and place context. The Philippians are the intended audience of this book.
All time statements in the Bible must be viewed through this same lens of audience relevance. The books of the Bible are not mystical letters written nebulously to Christians throughout eternity whereby all time statements are free to be extracted and applied to whatever generation we wish. No, each book was directed to a specific audience and Scripture is more than adequate to show us who that audience was.
In keeping with the subject of audience relevance, this may perhaps shock some people, but there is not one book in the Bible that was written TO anyone living today. Every single book in the Bible was written FOR us, for application and understanding, but none of them were written TO us. Every book in the Bible is a personal letter, a history book, or writing by a prophet to particular people at a particular time and for a particular reason. Yes, we do glean truth and understanding from these books today, but that is far different than saying that these books were written TO us. To put it another way, we are reading other people's mail. Whenever someone today says "Here's what this Scripture means to me," we should be the first to say, "It doesn't matter what it means to you. It only matters what it meant to the original audience." That is where we find out what the Bible truly means. Only after we do that can we then apply it to ourselves.
Now we have people saying that since none of the Bible was written to us, none of it applies to us. Really? Let's go back to our text in Philippians. We talked about Philippians 2:19 and Paul sending Timothy to the Philippians shortly. This does not apply to us. Timothy is not coming to us shortly because he is dead. It's been two thousand years since Paul wrote this. Well what about:
I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. Philippians 4:2-3 NASB
Is this for us? No, Euodia and Syntyche are dead, Clement is dead. This was very specific to the local situation. What we might apply from this text is the principle of unity that we see throughout the New Testament. Okay, what about:
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 NASB
Does this apply to us? Paul is talking about himself, but this could apply to us if we are in Christ. Can we do all things through Christ? Leap tall buildings at a single bound? Run faster that a bullet? Notice the context:
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. Philippians 4:11-12 NASB
So does this apply to us, can we deal with any circumstance if we are living in dependance on Christ? Yes, we can. This is a spiritual truth that applies to all who live in dependance upon Christ.
These people who are saying that since none of the Bible was written to us, none of it applies to us are wrong! They say, "It is all to Israel about their sin, their salvation, their Messiah." These folks go so far as to say, "Sin was done away in AD 70, and we don't sin today, and we don't need salvation today. Christ did not die for our sin. It was all about Israel." They often quote:
"She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name [Yeshua], for He will save His people from their sins." Matthew 1:21 NASB
They say that "His people" are Jews, and you are not a Jew so He didn't save you. Who are "His people"? Israel is His people! No doubt, but who is Israel? I agree that the Bible is about Israel and her salvation, but I would include spiritual Israel in that definition. Yeshua is the true Israel and all who trust in Him are Israel:
For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God. Romans 2:28-29 NASB
Here Paul makes a distinction between the outward/physical and the inward/spiritual. The "outward Jew" is a transgressor of Torah since he is not honoring Torah of the heart, which is only done by having faith in the Gospel of Yeshua and receiving the promised Spirit.
Once the New Covenant arrived, the only true Jews were those who trusted in the Christ. All other Jews were covenant breakers, no matter what rites they held to:
But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God. Romans 2:29 NASB
In this context, Paul uses "Jew" as the people of God, those chosen by Him, those shown God's favor, and those in covenant with God. The point of verse 29 is that the Holy Spirit is the one who makes uncircumcised Gentiles into circumcised Jews, namely, by circumcising their hearts. Circumcision, Paul says, is, in essence, an internal change of heart, not an external change of the sexual organ.
What Paul says here in Romans, he says throughout the New Testament. Look at what Paul wrote to the Philippians:
for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Yeshua and put no confidence in the flesh, Philippians 3:3 NASB
Paul says, "For we are the true circumcision." The "we" is a reference to Paul and the Philippian Christians. But what Paul says of them is true of all Christians. Theologically, this is very significant. This is Paul's description of the Church of Yeshua the Christ. The Church is the "true circumcision."
Paul taught that the Gentiles in the Church shared in the blessing of the Abrahamic Covenant with Israel:
Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, "And to seeds," as referring to many, but rather to one, "And to yourseed," that is, Christ. Galatians 3:16 NASB
The promises were to one Seed, who was Christ. Yeshua is the seed of Abraham:
And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise. Galatians 3:29 NASB
Is the "you" here limited to those in Galatia in the first century? No, it is not! If you by faith belong to Christ, you are Abraham's seed and an heir according to the promise. It doesn't matter who's blood you have in your veins, but who's faith you have in your heart. It is covenant, not race, that makes one a Jew:
But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; Romans 9:6 NASB
"For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel" I can't emphasize how important this verse is, we must understand this. This verse is the key to understanding Israel and the promises of God. The term Israel means: "God rules" or "He who rules with God."
Paul tells us in our text that there are TWO Israels. We know that one of these Israels is national physical Israel, Jacob's sons. There is no disagreement here. But who is the other Israel? This is where the disagreements start. We have here physical Israel, those who descended from Jacob, and then we have true Israel—those in Christ. So we have physical Israel and true Israel.
So who is true Israel? Is it the Church? Yes, but what is the Church? It is the Body of Christ! And what I want us to understand is that Yeshua is the true Israel! It is in Him, and Him alone, that the promises of God are fulfilled. We could say, "They are not all 'in Christ' who are physical descendants of Jacob."
in order that in Christ Yeshua the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Galatians 3:14 NASB
We inherit all the promises made to Abraham through Christ. Everything we are and have is by virtue of our union with Christ, which only comes by faith. Listen carefully, the Abrahamic Covenant was a promise made to Abraham and to Yeshua the Christ, the seed of Abraham; that He would be made great, the father of many nations, and that in Him would all the nations of the earth be blessed. This promise was fulfilled spiritually and ultimately in Christ. Believers, we are Israel and many of the promises and precepts of the Word of God apply to us today.
If we are NOT true Israel, then the cessationists are right and NO Scripture passage CAN apply to us today, because it IS all about Israel and their redemption.
One of these cessationist writes, "Sin and death were related to 'the law' and that is not the issue for people living today. I was never born 'in Adam' and therefore, did not inherit the consequences of his sin, nor the death that resulted." This is a big discussion among Preterists today—are people born in Adam today? Let's look at Romans 5:
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— Romans 5:12 NASB
In order to understand this text, we must understand the corporate nature of it. Verse 12 starts out "Just as"—this suggests a comparison, but we notice that verse 12 does not complete the comparison, there is no "even so." He only gives us half of the comparison—Adam. Verses 13-17 are a parentheses for clarification. Verses 18 and 19 complete the comparison started in verse 12. Let's read it that way, skipping verses 13-18a:
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned ... even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. Romans 5:12, 18b NASB
One man did one thing resulting in sin and death; the other Man did something else, resulting in justification and life. "Just as" the one act of Adam affected every member of the human race, "even so" the one act of Yeshua Christ affects every member of the New Covenant community.
The word "one" is used 12 times in verses 12-19. The emphasis in this section is on how one man's act affects all he represents.
In Adam we have sin and death, and in Christ we have obedience and life.
Notice that our text says, "through one man sin entered into the world." This is Adam in the garden. The result of that sin was:
(1) "Sin entered into the world"
Please notice that Paul does not say that sins have entered into the world. He says that "the sin" has entered into the world. There is a definite article here for sin and death. He is talking about a specific sin and death. Through Adam's personal sin, original sin came to all mankind, and all humanity was born separated from God. We are all born sinners.
(2) Death came as a result of sin—"and death through sin." As a result of Adam's sin, he died. Adam did not die physically that day, but he did die spiritually. He died spiritually the moment he disobeyed. Spiritual death is separation from God, who is life. Prior to Adam's sin, he lived in fellowship with God.
Because of his sin, man was separated from God. He was dead in trespasses and sins. The focus of God's plan of redemption is to restore through Yeshua what man had lost in Adam.
(3) Death spread to all men—"so death spread to all men." Spiritual death spread to all men. Every human being born is born separated from God, dead in sin. The question that arises here is, "Why?" Why are all born dead? The answer is given in the end of verse 12: "Because all sinned"—the Greek here employs the aorist tense, which indicates that at some point in the past all men sinned, and that point must be when Adam sinned. When he sinned, I sinned. If Adam is guilty, I am guilty.
In interpreting this, we must remember that the chief point of the entire section is to hold before us the comparison between Adam and Christ. The object of that comparison is to emphasize the fact that our relationship to the one is parallel with our relationship to the other. What is true of us in Adam is true of us in Christ. If we don't understand "because all sinned" as "because all sinned in Adam," the entire comparison between Christ and Adam will be distorted.
If you say, "Through one man sin and death entered the world and death spread to everybody because all sinned individually," then the comparison with the work of Yeshua could be, "So also through one man, Yeshua Christ, righteousness and life entered the world and life spread to all because all individually did acts of righteousness."
So, the question that we must answer is, "How have we all sinned?" The answer comes in understanding: FEDERAL HEADSHIP. Representative or federal headship refers to one who represents a group bound by a common cause or agreement, such as those in a covenant or federation; not only as its spokesperson, but as one whose decisions are binding on the larger group by virtue of the individual's role as federal or representative head.
In saying all sinned in Adam, Paul is emphasizing people groups rather than individuals. Adam is the historical ancestor of every people group on the face of the earth. This is not a myth; it's not an analogy; it's not an illustration. It is historical fact. Adam, the first human being, sinned and in him all human beings sinned, and all died and all are condemned.
God constituted Adam as the federal head, or representative, of the entire race. Adam acted on our behalf as our representative. Adam's sin has been put to our account—this is imputation.
We're all born spiritually dead, and death is penal. Why? Did we personally sin before we were born? No! We sinned in Adam. He represented us, and what he did, we did. His act is put to our account. Now, someone might say, "That seems so unfair." Who determines fair? What Yahweh does is the ultimate standard of right.
We see the idea of Federal headship taught all through the Bible. When Achan took the banned goods in the conquest of Jericho, Yahweh told Joshua, "Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them" (v 11). He viewed Israel corporately through one man's act. Achan sins, and his whole family is put to death.
The principle of federal headship offers the only hope to a guilty sinner before God. We stand guilty. How can we ever be forgiven? Works? NO! We can only be forgiven through the act of one person—Yeshua the Christ, our representative.
As Adam committed one act, so Yeshua committed one act. It was an act of obedience that led Him to the cross where He died for our sin. His one act of obedience was an act of sacrifice, He gave Himself for sinners. What was the result of that one act of obedience? It appeased the wrath of God, it satisfied His justice. Sin was paid for. So God put to the account of His elect the righteousness of Yeshua the Christ.
As Yahweh has imputed to every member of Adam's race the sin of Adam resulting in all men experiencing spiritual death; so Yahweh has imputed to every member of the New Covenant the righteousness of Yeshua the Christ. We are accepted before God, justified by the death of Yeshua, and His righteousness is imputed to all who believe. Without the doctrine of federal headship, there would be no possibility of salvation.
So what changed in AD 70? Some say that people are no longer born in Adam. The sin of Adam was dealt with by Christ so we are no longer born in sin. Well the Old Covenant ended and the New was fully consummated, we know that. But people were dead in Adam before the Old Covenant, and I believe they are still born dead in Adam today. Look at Romans 8:
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Yeshua. Romans 8:1 NASB
"Now no condemnation"—reading this in the original text the emphasis rests upon the word "no." "There is now thereforeno condemnation," that's the emphatic word in the Greek text.
The Greek word that Paul uses here for "condemnation" is katakrima (katakrima is the normal word for condemnation). Katakrima is only used three times in Scripture, all of them by Paul in Romans. Paul uses katakrima twice in Romans 5:
The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. Romans 5:16 NASB
We see here that Adam's sin resulted in judgment, which is the Greek word krima, a sentence, or a decision on the part of a judge. This sentence from the judge resulted in condemnation, katakrima. Katakrima is defined by Suttor in his Lexicon as: "the punishment following the sentence." It is in a passive formation in the Greek and it is not likely to refer to the sentence as an edict from the judge, but rather to the punishment. Adam's sin is imputed to all, this is condemnation, which is spiritual death, separation from God.
Who are those who can lay claim to "no condemnation"? There are parameters to that claim. This promise is only "to those who are in Christ Yeshua"—only those "who are in Christ Yeshua have life." The text does not say, "There is no condemnation because of what Christ has done." He is specific, it is only those "in Christ" who are not condemned. Some are in Him and some are not. Paul assumes this everywhere in his writings. There are those "in Christ" and there are those "outside." Paul is not a universalist.
Here is how I understand what happened in AD 70. Christ came and put an end to "the sin" and "the death" but only for those who are in Him. The "no condemnation" is only for those in Christ. All those outside of Christ are still born in Adam and are still dead in sins.
For those first century Jews to trust Christ is to die to the body of Moses and be brought into the body of Christ:
Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Romans 7:24 NASB
"The body of this death"—sadly most Christians see this as a reference to the physical body. So what is the body of this death? The argument continues to address the corporate aspects of Sin. "This body of death" is nothing less than the body of Moses, which was a body of sin. So Paul's cry could be interpreted: "Who will deliver me from the kingdom of darkness?" Paul is looking for the final day of redemption when Israel is redeemed out of the body of Moses and into the body of Christ. At AD 70 the believers in the body of Moses were redeemed, and unbelievers were destroyed.
If people today are no longer born in Adam then they don't need a savior. If they are not born separated from Yahweh, they must be born in fellowship with Him— which would be universalism. If you say they are born separated from Yahweh, I would ask why? What did they do? And now we are back to Adam.
A big problem with the cessationist position is that they have the New Covenant ending on the same day that the Old Covenant ends. The Bible only speaks of two ages:
but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. Mark 10:30 NASB
All through the New Testament we see two ages in contrast: "This age," and the "age to come." The understanding of these two ages and when they changed is fundamental to interpreting the Bible.
If eternal life was a condition of the "age to come," then does this mean that the New Testament saints who lived in "this age" did not yet have eternal life? Yes it does. Eternal life did not come until the new age was consummated. That's when it began!
All through the New Testament we see the transition period. The New Covenant had arrived, but was not consummated until AD 70 with the judgment on Jerusalem at the return of Christ. This was a time when the church was growing into a Holy Temple, maturing into the Body of Christ. To say it all ended in AD 70 is to say that the New Covenant ended on the day it was consummated. That makes no sense! All that suffering to build the church only to have it end once it matured.
The view that it all ended in AD 70 destroys the Exodus type; at the end of the first exodus the children of Israel inherited the land. So at the end of the second exodus did it all just end? No, we as priests inherited the New Heaven and Earth. We dwell in the presence of Yahweh right now, we live as kingdom citizens under the precepts of the New Covenant.
What event ended the first exodus period? The destruction of Jericho. Jericho stood at the entrance to the promised land. It was a fortified city that represented a serious challenge to Israel's claim to the land. Its fall telegraphed a message to all the world that Yahweh was the Lord of this people.
What marked the end of the second exodus? The destruction of Jerusalem. Old Covenant Judaism was a major problem for those early believers. Nothing represented the old system better than the temple. Here was where the presence of God dwelt. His presence assured them they were His people. But forty years after the cross, in A.D. 70, believers fled the city of Jerusalem as the walls fell and the city was destroyed and burned.
Similar to the collapse of the walls in Jericho, the fall of Jerusalem's walls symbolized the entrance of the redeemed remnant into Christ's everlasting Kingdom. The believers were vindicated and revealed as "the sons of God" while judgment fell on the Jewish system which had rejected God as king. Believers now reside in the New Jerusalem, which is the New Covenant.
Let's look at some more Exodus typology: The Passover deliverance was not consummated until they entered the promised land. The Passover began with the sacrificing of the Passover lamb introduced in Exodus 12, while Israel is still in bondage. They ate the first Passover while they were still in Egyptian bondage. In Numbers 9:5, they ate of it again, while they are wondering in the wilderness. And then in Joshua, they entered the land:
Then the LORD said to Joshua, "Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you." So the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day. While the sons of Israel camped at Gilgal they observed the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month on the desert plains of Jericho. Joshua 5:9-10 NASB
Israel's deliverance was consummated forty years after they left Egypt in the crossing of the Jordan River. Once their redemption was consummated by their being in the promised land, only then were they truly redeemed from Egyptian bondage. This is true of the second exodus generation. Their redemption was not consummated until the Lord returned for His bride. This was the consummation of the New Covenant. You and I today dwell in the Kingdom of Yahweh. We live in His presence. AD 70 was the beginning, not the end!
Notice what Paul wrote to Titus:
For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, Titus 1:5 NASB
In AD 64 Paul is telling Titus to appoint elders to provide leadership to the churches. Why go through the trouble if churches will cease to exist in just six years? Paul didn't see the church ending in AD 70, that was just the beginning.
Let me give you a little anecdotal evidence: when I was 21 years old, I was going my own way doing my own thing with not a thought in the world about God or eternity. A man I worked with gave me a Chick publication track, "Big Daddy." I read it and instantly knew I needed Christ. From that moment on my life changed. Yahweh saved me and things have never been the same. Salvation is for today. And I thank Yahweh for that.
People, if you let them take away your Bible, you are left with nothing. No encouragement, no instruction, no direction for life, no hope.
Notice what David wrote:
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. Psalms 23:4 NASB
Is this for us today? Is Yahweh with us today? While audience relevance is extremely important in applying a sound hermeneutic, reducing the Psalms to merely historical literature not only nullifies their christological significance, it completely does away with a multitude of promises intended for those in Christ. Notice what Christ said of the Psalms:
Now He said to them, "These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." Luke 24:44 NASB
The Psalms speak of Christ, and believers are in Christ and are partakers of all the promises that are fulfilled in Him. So don't let them take away your Bible, cling to it, read it, study it, cling to its promises.