Today marks the one thousandth message of Berean Bible Church. We put a media number on each message and today’s is number 1,000. But from 1998 thru 2000, we did two messages some weeks. They were numbered a and b. So, today’s message is actually 1,084. But it is media number 1,000. We’re going with that. We started Berean on April 27, 1997. This April it will be 23 years. I thought it would be beneficial to share with you all exactly how this church came into being.
Rich and I, along with two other men, were pastoring a local church in Virginia Beach. Another man and I were on staff as full-time pastors while Rich and one other man, who had full-time jobs, shepherded with us.
Things were going very well at this church; we were growing and the finances were great. After many years of struggling, the church was really doing well. Then something happened that changed everything. In the early weeks of January 1997, I received a phone call from an old friend, Vince, whom I had not seen or heard from for about ten years. As we talked he said, "Larry tells me that you're a preterist." I responded, "Yes, I am." Then he asked me, "Do you take it all the way?" I asked him what he meant, and he asked "Do you believe that all prophecy has been fulfilled?" I said, "NO, of course not! What are you talking about?" So, he briefly shared with me the preterist view which taught that the Lord Yeshua had returned in AD 70, establishing the New Heaven and New Earth and bringing the resurrection and judgment. I thought he was mad! As I got off the phone with him, I thought, "He must be nuts."
Up until that time, I was a partial preterist, but I didn't know it because I didn't know that there was such a thing as a "full preterist." Partial Preterists believe that many end-time prophecies have been fulfilled, but not all. Full Preterists believe all have been fulfilled. I had spent many years working on my eschatology, and I felt that I had it all worked out. I had held to a preterist-amil theology for about eight years. I believed that "most" of the book of Revelation had been fulfilled (up to chapter 20). I believed that the tribulation had happened in A.D. 70 and that the destruction of the Jewish temple was "a" coming of the Lord. I still looked to a future return of Christ to bring in the resurrection, judgment, and the New Heavens and New Earth.
Although I was comfortable with my eschatology, I was still somewhat troubled with the end of the book of Revelation. I believed that Yeshua had returned in judgment in A.D. 70, but I saw this as "a" coming and not "the" coming. I believed this because of the TIME statements that said he would return "soon, quickly, shortly."
The revelation of Yeshua the Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Yeshua the Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. Revelation 1:1-3 ESV
To whom was the book of Revelation written? Most Christians today think it was written to them. They act as though it is a newspaper that just arrived. But John tells us to whom he is writing—the seven churches in Asia Minor:
John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, Revelation 1:4 ESV
These were seven real church that existed in Asia Minor in the first century. He names the seven churches in chapter 1.
I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” Revelation 1:10-11 ESV
Notice that John is not told to send it to the church in America in the twenty-first century. This book was to be sent to seven churches in Asia Minor in the first century and he names the churches.
To the church in Thyatira Yeshua said:
Only hold fast what you have until I come. Revelation 2:25 ESV
Yeshua told the believers in the church of Thyatira, in the first century, to "hold fast what you have until I come." If language means anything, that means that he would come in their lifetime, would it not?
Most commentators of Revelation violate the basic hermeneutical principle of audience relevance which seeks to discover what the original readers understood a passage to mean. The concern of the interpreter is to understand the grammar of a passage in light of the historical circumstances and context of the original audience.
In Revelation 1:1, John specifically states that the prophecies of Revelation would begin to take place in a very SHORT TIME. He emphasized this truth in a variety of ways through language. He carefully varies the manner of his expressions as if to avoid any potential confusion on the matter. The Greek word translated "shortly" in Revelation 1:1 is tachos. According to Arndt and Gingich Lexicon, tachos is used in the LXX and certain non-canonical writings to mean: "speed, quickness, swiftness, haste." John uses the same word in Revelation 2:16; 3:11; 22:6, 7, 12, 20. John also uses the Greek word engus which is translated "near" in Revelation 1:3 and 22:10. This term speaks of temporal nearness, and John uses it to bracket the book. The third Greek word is mello. It is translated as "about to" in Revelation 1:19 and 3:10. The phrase in 1:19 is literally “the things which are about to occur.
Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. Revelation 1:19 ESV
Mello also occurs in 3:10, so the verse should read “is about to come upon the whole world, …”
Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. Revelation 3:10 ESV
If we apply the principle of audience relevance, what would the original readers have thought when they read this? John strategically places these words at the introduction and conclusion of the book. John was telling the seven churches to expect these things at any moment.
So, based upon these time statements and many others, I believed that Yeshua had come "in a sense" in A.D. 70. The thing that troubled me was that the book of Revelation ended with the same time statements that it began with.
And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.” “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” Revelation 22:6-7 ESV
And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Revelation 22:10 ESV
“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. Revelation 22:12 ESV
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Yeshua! Revelation 22:20 ESV
Five times in the last 16 verses he tells the seven churches in Asia Minor that he is going to come very soon to them. This troubled me (in 1997), but I didn’t have a solution because I didn't know of anyone who thought the second coming had already occurred. I had never heard of the idea before the beginning part of January of 1997.
These ending verses should be very difficult for a partial preterist. The time statements bracket this book and cover everything in the book including the second coming, the judgment, and the resurrection. It was ALL to happen soon for the first- century audience. Do you know a one-word description for a partial preterist? Futurist!
The very same week that Vince called me and told me about the full preterist view I received an e-mail from a man whom I did not know who questioned me on my teaching on Revelation. The church had a website with the messages on it that I had taught on Revelation as a partial preterist. He asked me if I could defend my "partial preterism" against "full preterism?" I wrote back and told him that I had never even heard of "full preterism" until a few days earlier. I told him that I would study the subject and get back to him.
A couple of weeks previous to this, I had told Rich that I had come to the place where I felt I had my theology pretty much worked out. My theological grid was intact. Then a few weeks later two men contact me "out of the blue" confronting me with "full preterism." Something inside of me knew that what these men were telling me was true, but I did not want to believe it. I knew it would be a very costly theological move.
Vince had come by my house when I wasn't home and dropped off two books for me to read. Had Cathy known what those books would lead to, she would have thrown them out. The books sat on my desk for about two weeks. I was afraid to read them. I was afraid it was true. I finally decided that the truth was something I wanted to know, whatever it was and whatever it cost me. I began to read the books, and as I did I was convinced that it was true. The second coming of the Lord Yeshua had happened in A.D. 70. I rejoiced to learn the truth of Christ's second coming, but it also scared me. I knew that this would be a costly paradigm shift. One of these books was, “Behold I Am Coming Quickly” produced by PIE.
After a couple of weeks of study and meditation, I reluctantly brought it up to Rich. He looked at me as if I had lost my mind. But after several weeks of thinking about it and studying it, Rich was seeing the same things I was.
A few weeks later, Cathy and I were having dinner at my sister's house and my Mother said to me, "I read these verses today, what do you think they mean?" The verses she was referring to were:
For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Matthew 16:27-28 ESV
I read the verses in amazement. My mother had never asked me to explain a passage to her before. I looked at her and said, "I think they mean exactly what they say. I think that Yeshua came back in the first century just like he told these disciples that he would."
So, within a couple of weeks I had three people confront me with what the Bible said about eschatology. These three witnesses caused me to have a paradigm shift. I was teaching through the book of 1 Corinthians at the time and was in chapter 14. I could not teach chapter 15 because I no longer knew what I believed about the resurrection. I announced to the church that we would take a break from Corinthians while I tried to work out some problems I was having with chapter 15.
In an elders meeting on February 11, 1997, I asked if I could have a month's sabbatical to study through a doctrinal issue that I was struggling with. The elders wanted to know what the issues were. I told them I was examining the preterist view of eschatology and found it to be more in line with Scripture than any other eschatological system. After a brief discussion, I told them that I would order Russell's book, "The Parousia" so that we could all study it together.
The books came in and I gave each elder one. After having several weeks to read the book, the eldership was divided on the issue. Rich and I saw the preterist view to be correct and the others did not. We really never discussed or debated the preterist view among us. The other elders said that preterism was a departure from the church's doctrinal statement (a statement that we had written, so it certainly was not inspired). In a very short time, it looked as if we had come to an impasse. I tried to get them to show me from the Bible where I was wrong, but they didn't want to debate the scriptures. As elders, we had always debated the issues that came up, but this time there was no debating.
Rich suggested we modify the doctrinal statement to allow for both views of eschatology. They flatly refused without debate. A legal team from the American Family Association agreed to come in and arbitrate to see if we could work it out, but there was no common ground. They said they did not see the preterist view as heresy, but they did not think we could work together. They wanted us to stop studying the possibility of preterism, but we couldn't agree to that.
The elders imposed a gag rule. We were not to talk to anyone about preterism. We could not debate it with the elders or talk about it with anyone. They offered two options—renounce our new understanding and refuse to study preterism or leave our eldership and membership of that church.
At that point, we had the option of going public with our beliefs. After all, 50% of the elder board now believed that preterism was probably true. We were torn also by the fact that the flock deserved to hear the truth. However, we felt this would be a harmful fight. Many of the weaker believers might be shaken in their faith from such open debate among the elders.
After much discussion and prayer among ourselves, Rich and I decided that the best thing we could do was resign. If we stayed, it would only turn into strife and cause division. We decided to leave.
As elders, we chose the date of April 20 to turn in our resignations. In the weeks prior to that, all the elders worked out the details of our departure and establishment of another church. We agreed to support and affirm each other's ministry. We agreed to help each other financially, if necessary. We divided up sound equipment and communion supplies, chairs, and music stands. We worked out all the details in a very amicable way.
They agreed to let us use the church building on Sunday evenings for two months until we could start a new church. I certainly did not like the idea of starting over at 43, but I was very happy about the conditions of the separation. At the final elder meeting before we resigned, we all held hands and prayed and cried together.
On April 20 the 11:00 service was packed out. All of the elders came up front, and we told the people that because of theological differences, Rich and I felt it was best to resign. The other elders did not want us to even tell the people what the theological issues were. We just told them it had to do with the nature and timing of the second coming of Christ. Rich and I read our resignations and we closed the service.
That's when it hit the fan! The two men who had agreed to support and encourage us had now turned against us. We were now called heretics. There were several special meetings called in which the people were told TO NOT SPEAK TO US. They were told that we were heretics and were to be avoided. Nobody really knew what we believed because we were not allowed to tell them. The deacons contacted everyone in the church and told them to avoid us. They told people that we didn't even believe that the Bible was applicable anymore.
A deacon told a woman that she should not speak to me because "I was so persuasive that I could convince him to stand barefoot in the snow." But if I was so persuasive and convincing, why did I have to resign? We walked away from that church as quietly and peacefully as possible. We sent a letter to our former flock to tell them about the service times for Berean Bible Church. The only people that we talked to were the ones that called us to hear our side of the story.
Dora called me the next week and said that she was told by the elders not to talk to me. She said "You have been my pastor too long for me not to hear what you have to say about this." I told her what I had seen in the Scripture about the second coming of Christ. She said, "Oh, it makes sense now. That clears up some of the questions I had with the teaching of Christ’s second coming." She said, "What I had studied all these years began to fall together like a puzzle in my mind with just the few scriptures you shared, and I was so EXCITED." Then she said, "That's it? What is wrong with that? It makes perfect sense in my mind from what I have studied to this point. And it makes me sad that someone out there would actually try to keep me from hearing truth, and I know of others who are yielding to that instruction."
The families who weren't afraid to talk to us were forced to do a lot of studying to see if what Rich and I had seen was true. I thank God for those who were willing to search the scriptures and see if these things were so.
The negative feedback that we received surprised us. I was informed by a man that God killed David Chilton for believing this doctrine, so I had better watch out. I received hate mail from folks who really didn't understand what we believed but, nonetheless, told us that we had left the faith.
I think I can honestly say that for Cathy and me it was the worst week of our lives. I was trying to be true to what I thought the Scriptures taught and was being persecuted for it.
Let me just say here that we didn't resign over eschatology; we resigned over the reformation principle of "Sola Scriptura!" (the Scripture alone). It doesn't matter what men's doctrinal statements say or what Church tradition says. The guiding principle and question needs to be this: What does the Scripture say? The Bible alone is inspired and if what it says goes against what man says, we must stick with the Scriptures. No matter what it costs us.
We were accused of being proud because we saw something in Scripture that no one else had seen. This, of course, was not true because many men had seen it. The traditions of men are not easily changed.
They mounted a very effective fear campaign against us. They explained that Satan had overcome Rich and me, causing us to believe and teach error. Furthermore, the doctrine was so pernicious that anyone else could also be easily tricked by Satan. They had people convinced that if they even listened to us, they would be sucked into the abyss.
One lady set out to prove me wrong, and as she studied using the Bible and the works of Josephus, she came to see that the Lord had in fact returned in A.D. 70. The elders of the other church talked to her and tried to dissuade her. They told her to stop reading preterist materials. When she told them she had seen the truth of preterism in the Scriptures, they forbade her from reading the Bible! They told this lady that she was not to read her Bible, and they said that WE were dangerous because we were encouraging people to study their Bibles. They were literally afraid of the Scriptures.
Listen to what John Calvin said about the doctrine of predestination because it applies to preterism as well.
"The Scripture is the school of the Holy Spirit in which, as nothing is omitted that is both necessary and useful to know, so nothing is taught but what is expedient to know. Therefore we must guard against depriving believers of anything disclosed about predestination in Scripture, lest we seem either wickedly to defraud them of the blessing of their God or to accuse and scoff at the Holy Spirit for having published what it is in any way profitable to suppress."
Calvin goes on to say, "but for those who are so cautious or fearful that they desire to bury predestination in order not to disturb weak souls—with what color will they cloak their arrogance when they accuse God indirectly of stupid thoughtlessness, as if he had not foreseen the peril that they feel they have wisely met? Whoever, then, heaps odium upon the doctrine of predestination openly reproaches God, as if he had unadvisedly let slip something hurtful to the church."
Since preterism is taught in the Bible, how can we be afraid of it? We believe that the Bible is the Word of the Living God. Our doctrinal statement reads: "All the scripture is verbally inspired as originally written and therefore is infallible and inerrant. (II Timothy 3:16, 17; II Peter 1:21; Matthew 5:18; I Corinthians 2:13) The Bible is the very Word of God. We cannot accept the misleading statement: "The Bible contains the Word of God.”
If we believe the Bible is God's word, why can't we believe what it says? Why do we hold the traditions of the church over the Word of God? The Lord clearly told his disciples and us WHEN he would return:
For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Matthew 16:27-28 ESV
Verse 27 clearly speaks of the second coming. His disciples didn't know He was leaving, but they looked for a time when He would appear in full glory and power, bringing in the Kingdom and rewarding every man. Now some say he is talking about the transfiguration of Matthew 17:2, but that is only six days later. None of them had died in that six-day period. Did he come in the glory of His Father with His angels and reward each according to his works at the transfiguration? Of course not! How about Pentecost? No! It was only two months later, and all except Judas were still alive. But it does refer to His Second Coming, as can be seen from Revelation 22:12.
"Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. Revelation 22:12 ESV
Compare that with Matthew 16:27. He comes with the angels to reward every man. Look at the next verse. "I say to YOU, there are some standing HERE who will not taste death until THEY see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." Who are the "YOU" of this verse? Verse 24 tells us that Yeshua is speaking to his disciples.
Then Yeshua told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Matthew 16:24 ESV
So, Yeshua is saying to his disciples who were standing there that some of them would still be alive when He returned in the second coming.
What are the possible explanations for this verse? I see only three. First, there are still some of the disciples alive today. Second, Yeshua was confused or lying. Third, Yeshua actually did what he said and came in the lifetime of his disciples. This is really our only sensible choice. This seems like the simple and clear answer that holds to the inspiration of Scripture. Yeshua did what he said he would do. Yeshua also said:
Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Matthew 24:34 ESV
Here, Yeshua very plainly and very clearly tells His disciples that ALL of the things He had mentioned would come to pass in THEIR GENERATION. If you study the context, you will see that this includes the preaching of the Gospel in all the world, the abomination of desolation, the great tribulation, and the Second Coming of Christ. This is so clear that it greatly troubles those who hold to a futuristic eschatology. Talking about Matthew 24:34 in his essay, “The World’s Last Night,” C.S. Lewis gives the following quote from an objector:
“The apocalyptic beliefs of the first Christians have been proved to be false. It is clear from the New Testament that they all expected the Second Coming in their own lifetime. And, worse still, they had a reason, and one which you will find very embarrassing. Their Master had told them so. He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in so many words, 'This generation shall not pass till all these things be done.' And He was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else."
Then Lewis says:
“This is certainly the most embarrassing verse in the Bible. Yet how teasing, also, that within fourteen words of it should come the statement ‘But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.’ The one exhibition of error and the one confession of ignorance grow side by side.” (Essay "The World's Last Night" (1960), found in The Essential C.S. Lewis, p. 385)
Lewis wrote that what Yeshua said about “this generation” was embarrassing. He called it an “error.” But was Yeshua wrong? I can't accept that, can you? Fortunately, Christ did keep His promise to come within the first-century generation. Christ's Second Coming occurred spiritually—the way He intended it—at the A.D. 70 destruction of Jerusalem. This highly verified historical event signified that sin finally had been atoned forever and that all Christians, from generation to generation, could live eternally—on earth and in heaven—without separation from God.
Because of his physical view of the nature of the Second coming, Lewis felt that it hadn't happened yet, and therefore, Yeshua had been wrong. That would be, in fact, much more than embarrassing; it would be devastating to the credibility of Yeshua. If Yeshua was wrong, as Lewis says he was, what else might he have been wrong about? Will those who believe in Him truly have everlasting life? The fact is Yeshua wasn't wrong; Lewis was. We can count on the truthfulness of what Yeshua tells us. Aren't you glad of that?
Most commentators see a generation as referring to about a forty-year time span. More importantly, what does the Bible say about the time of a generation?
So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations. Matthew 1:17 ESV
In this genealogical table, we have data to estimate the length of a generation. It tells us that from the captivity in Babylon until Christ, are fourteen generations. Now the date of the captivity, in the reign of Zedekiah, is said to be 586 B.C. From 586 B.C. until the birth of Christ would be about 589 years which, divided by fourteen, makes the average length of a generation about 42 years.
Some have tried to twist the etymology of the word "generation" (genea) to make it mean "race" (genos) and try to make Yeshua say that all these things would happen before the "race" of Jews had passed away. By doing this, they think they can expand the time of the Second Coming by thousands of years. There is no biblical or linguistic justification for such a position. Generation does NOT mean race!
C.I. Scofield recognized the difficulty of “this generation” in Matthew 24:34, so in his notes in The Scofield Reference Bible, he changed the word genea to genos, an entirely different word! Scofield said (p. 1034, old edition, Scofield Reference Bible):
Gr. genea, the primary definition of which is, “race, kind, family, stock, breed” (So all lexicons). That the word is used in this sense here is sure because none of “these things,” the world-wide preaching of the kingdom, the great tribulation, the return of the Lord in visible glory, and the regathering of the elect, occurred at the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, A.D. 70. The promise is, therefore, that the generation—nation, or family of Israel— will be preserved unto “these things”; a promise wonderfully fulfilled to this day.
Scofield intentionally used the wrong Greek word with his definition. He did so because of his view of the nature of the Second Coming. Since he felt that these things hadn't happened yet, he had to change the meaning of the word genea by giving the definition for the Greek word "genos." But genos is not the word used in Matthew 24:34.
What Yeshua meant by all those things happening in that generation, including the parousia of Christ, was that they would all happen while some of those folks to whom He preached were still alive, just as He said they would be in Matthew 16:27-28.
The following quote by David Chilton is very informative:
Some have sought to get around the force of this text by saying that the word generation here really means race, and that Jesus was simply saying that the Jewish race would not die out until all these things took place. Is that true? I challenge you: Get out your concordance and look up every New Testament occurrence of the word generation (in Greek, genea) and see if it ever means 'race' in any other context. Here are all the references for the Gospels: Matthew 1:17; 11:16; 12:39, 41, 42, 45; 16:4; 17:17; 23:36; 24:34; Mark 8:12, 38; 9:19; 13:30; Luke 1:48, 50; 7:31; 9:41; 11:29, 30, 31, 32, 50, 51;18:8; 17:25; 21:32. Not one of these references is speaking of the entire Jewish race over thousands of years; all use the word in its normal sense of the sum total of those living at the same time. It always refers to contemporaries. In fact, those who say it means 'race' tend to acknowledge this fact but explain that the word suddenly changes its meaning when Jesus uses it in Matthew 24!
Among those who are partial preterists, there is a great deal of agreement with full preterists in the application of Matthew 24:1-35 to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. But among partial preterists, a debate arises over a proposed shift in topics and eras beginning with verse 36. This is seen as a transition in time. The debate concerns whether Christ dealt with two issues (i.e. the destruction of Jerusalem vs.1-35- and the end of the world vs. 36ff.) or just one (i.e. the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the Jewish age).
David Chilton (1996) said, "…any proposed division of Matthew 24 into two different 'comings' is illegitimate, nugatory, and gossamer. Scripture foretells a Second Coming (Heb.9:28) - not a third!" (Foreward to What Happened in AD70?)
Bereans, you cannot divide Matthew 24. There is no indication that Yeshua is describing two comings separated by an indeterminate period of time. What would have led the disciples to conclude that Yeshua was describing two different comings?
Why do partial preterists make such a big effort to divide Matthew 24? They do so because they need to have some verses that speak of a future (to us) coming of Christ. They can't let go of the traditional view of a future coming of Christ to destroy the earth, so they try to get two comings out of Matthew 24. But it can't be done. Yeshua only spoke of one coming and that happened in AD 70. In reference to the judgment coming of Christ upon Jerusalem, notice what Yeshua said:
But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. Luke 21:20-22 ESV
Yeshua said that in the destruction of Jerusalem "all things written would be fulfilled." All prophecy was fulfilled in A.D. 70. There is no future coming or any other prophecy yet to be fulfilled.
There are some men who believe that all of Matthew 24 and 25 have been fulfilled and yet they still believe in a future coming of Christ (e.g. Gary DeMar and John Bray). The desperation of this position is clearly seen in John Bray's booklet, “Jesus is Coming Soon!” Mr. Bray says this:
The New Testament references to the parousia/coming of Christ had reference to that “momentous” and signal event which occurred in AD 70. The time statements in the New Testament prove this. Any reference to a future (to us) coming of Christ found in the new testament is found by inference and deduction, and not by express statement.
Do you catch what he is saying? He holds to a future coming of Christ, but there is no Scripture to support it. It is only seen in inference and deduction.
All prophecy was fulfilled in A.D. 70 in the day of God's wrath, just as Yeshua said it would be. Any ideas of a" third coming" are truly speculation and have no shred of biblical backing. There is only one parousia talked about in the New Testament. That is the parousia that took place in the fall of Jerusalem which brought about the fulfillment of all of the promises that God made to the fathers of Israel.
The majority of churchianity teaches that Yeshua’s coming is yet future, but I don't think that is what the Bible teaches. Our responsibility is to study the Bible and learn what it says, not to blindly follow church tradition. I believe that Paul's exhortation to Timothy applies to us as well:
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 ESV
Anyone who misrepresents, misinterprets, or detracts from God's Word has cause to be ashamed. This verse tells us how to avoid being ashamed and how to be approved. The KJV says to "study" to show thyself approved. The ESV has “do your best” to present yourself to God as one approved. The Greek word for “do your best” is spoudazo. It is a word used of a workman meaning to endeavor or exert oneself. It is a call for maximum effort. We are to apply maximum effort to "present yourself to God as one approved."
The word "present" is the Greek word paristemi. It means "to stand beside." You want to be able to stand alongside God as approved. Approved is the Greek word dokimos. It means "one who has been put to the test and measures up, thus winning the approval of the one testing him, who is God." His goal is not to please men, but God.
The word "worker" is the Greek word ergates. It means "a laborer, toiler." It pictures a hard worker making every effort to stand approved before God. Now how is it that we are to show ourselves approved to God? It is by "rightly handling the word of truth." This is the heart of it all. The work of God's laborer, the thing that he makes every effort in order to stand approved before God, is in his handling correctly the Word of God.
This was the desire of Rich and me—to stand before God approved, rightly handling the word of truth. We saw that what was taught in the Scriptures went against what was being taught in the church. Martin Luther is reported to have said at the Diet of Worms: "I ask for Scriptures and Eck offers me the Fathers. I ask for the Sun, and he shows me his lanterns. I ask, 'where is your Scriptural proof?' And he adduces Ambrose and Cyril. With all due respect to the fathers, I prefer the authority of the Scriptures."
This is why Berean Bible Church was started. We prefer the authority of the Scriptures. If Yeshua lied to us about the time of his return, then he is a liar and not the Lord, and we are all dead in our sins. Our cry needs to be the same as that of the reformers— "Sola Scriptura!" The Scriptures alone.
The friends I have made and the fellowship that I have experienced since becoming a preterist has far surpassed anything I had previously experienced. I think this is because of the persecution that we experience from futurists. I think that the persecution we have received has made us a close group. God uses the suffering in our lives to educate us for better service and better living. Prosperity has a way of making us feel self-satisfied and independent, while problems often make us more aware of our need for the Lord. Here is a great passage for us to cling to:
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:10-12 ESV
The persecuted are blessed, not cursed. Yeshua says we are to rejoice when we suffer! There is a connection in the New Testament between suffering and joy. That may seem like a contradiction, but that is what the Scriptures teach. When we are persecuted, we are to rejoice. I had never really experienced persecution until I became a preterist.
We have been persecuted, slandered, shunned, and attacked for our beliefs. What should our response be? Let me remind you that we are not just preterists. We are sovereign grace preterists. We are confident that whatever happens in time is but the outworking of what God has planned from eternity. Notice Joseph’s words to his brothers:
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. Genesis 50:20 ESV
God was sovereignly using their sin to bring about his plan. The same is true in our situation. In all that we have gone through, God has meant it for our good. And I think that much good has come from it. I love our local group and the sweet fellowship that we have. And I love our extended family and the love and support that you give us. We are making an impact. Slowly but surely people are hearing the preterist view and rejoicing that Yeshua kept His word.
As you consider sharing preterism with others, keep in mind the words of Calvin:
"The Scripture is the school of the Holy Spirit in which, as nothing is omitted that is both necessary and useful to know, so nothing is taught but what is expedient to know."