Doubt, Removed

In the interest of full disclosure, please know that my journey over the past four years has been an interesting one. I have studied, prayed, read, watched, and discussed many theological issues.

In some areas, I have arrived back at the point from which I began.

In other areas, I have arrived at a new and formerly unfamiliar place. Hopefully, I will find time in the coming months to share the many issues that I’ve dealt with.

As for my prolonged silence, I can only say that I’ve been waiting for that moment when I would know it is time to say something about my journey. And that moment has now arrived.

I will not complicate matters by going into a long and tedious discussion. And given the fact that my new understanding is a departure from historic church tradition and orthodoxy, I want to assure you that I have only a disinterested desire to convince others of my position.

For those who do not see truth in the matters I present, I do not assign any degradeed status as a believer or as my brother or sister in Christ.

So what is it?

Simply put, I have become convinced that the full preterist doctrine of the “end times” is the approach that most closely and clearly aligns with scripture. Over the past several months, I have had many questions about this view answered and while admitting that there are some that I am still seeking answers for. But I will testify that there has been a veritable cascade of answers to issues and questions that have bothered me for a long time. Having received clarity and understanding on these issues is something I can only describe as amazing.

I want to make it clear that I still hold to those critical and fundamental elements of salvation by faith through grace. To accomplish that objective I will offer you a sermon by a full preterist pastor who serves Berean Bible Church in the tidewater areas of Virginia.

There is actually very little preterist theology in this sermon. I think that it is appropriate to start this conversation on what, for most readers, is common ground.

My prayer is that no matter your current or future eschatological beliefs, you will be blessed by my work in this area.

With that said, here is David B. Curtis teaching on 1 John 5:13.

If Preterism is a Fruit, What Tree Produced It?

Holy Scripture.

We read it, and we do so believing that it is the inspired word of our God and Lord.

It is declared to be the foundation of all that our church believes and teaches.

We support, with our time and money, an ecclesiastical stucture and the people who fill its ranks. We find ourselves in agreement with all, or nearly all, of the doctrinal positions professed therein.

And so it is that we live the spiritual side of our lives neatly tucked in to a protective blanket that keeps out any and all challenges to the way that we, and our church, see things.

This is church as I’ve experienced it over the past 20 odd years. And it’s also the church that I’ve looked at from the outside for the other 25 years of my adult life.

After four years of searching and studying in an attempt to reconcile this world’s current affairs with scripture, I came across the doctrine of preterism (covenent eschatology, fulfilled eschatology). As I previously wrote, I came to embrace this position as I found that it provides the lens through which the evil that is so prevalent in our day can be put into its proper biblical perspective.

Before presenting my take on preterism, there is a broader issue that I want to address. After studying this topic, it has become clear that the path to understanding it is marked at all points by a faithfulness to God’s word and his word alone. Sola scriptura.

In an exercise of coming to scripture afresh, a much more difficult task than might be apparent at the outset, it doesn’t take long before the serious student realizes how their current doctrinal paradigms might prevent the text from speaking its actual intent and meaning.

In doctrine after doctrine we as believers, and even moreso as an organized church body, find ourselves so heavily invested in our professed positions that to question even the least of these positions is something that can’t be fathomed. We take a defensive position and declare to anyone who would challenge the status quo that they and their views are not welcome here.

The cost of such a stance is high. By relegating the authority to interpret scripture to those who came before us, and professing the positions they established without continually confirming them in the scriptures, we lose both the desire and the ability to find within scripture errors in our thinking.

The future return of Yeshua and the destruction of the physical cosmos is only one of many examples of a doctrine which is ripe for reassessment. There are many others.

So the question to ponder is this: Am I open to teaching that challenges my current doctrinal positions?

The tree that bares the fruit of preterism is the tree of opening God’s word and letting it speak the truth.

With all of that said, I am happy to say that regardless of any one’s personal response to this challenge I still offer my encouragement to all believers to continue their walk in the Lord’s provision of grace and peace.

The Circumstances Leading to My Embracing of Preterism

In mid-June of this year, I reached a critical point as I tried to process the veritable sea of deceit in which we daily walk. It seemed that anything and everything aside from God’s written word in its original language was corrupted to one degree or another.

Having grown up in the sixties and seventies, I lived most of my life (non-believer for about 2/3rds of my life, the last third as a believer) thinking that everything was hunky dory (just fine). Career, recreation, entertainment, and living the normal American life were things to be engaged in without critical thought or reflection. I did have a few concerns about things I saw when I reentered civilian life after twenty years in the military, but wrote them off as just the normal changes that take place in a culture over time.

Upon my conversion in 2001, I entered the “church” system and after some years of attending various churches my family and I became members of the PCA. This situation seemed to meet our needs in terms of coping with our culture and understanding why things are the way they are.

Four years ago, we left that denomination and have not rejoined another church. During that time, I have spent countless hours seeking to understand God’s will for his people.

I read a book written in the 15th century that catalogued the anabaptist (they don’t consider themselves “ana” which means “re” since they don’t consider the RC infant baptism as a bona fide baptism, but the label stuck so we use it) martyrs in each century from the 3rd to the 15th. I don’t believe that they had everything right (just like I don’t believe that I do), but were willing to die before caving on that issue. I liked what I saw in their emulation of Jesus as being non-violent to the point of not defending their rights or even themselves.

I spent a year looking into house churches, a year looking into missional churches, six months reading about the “harlot” church “system.” At various points I believed in the continuation of spiritual gifts, at other points I didn’t believe in that. I came to see the old covenant tithe as being nothing like we are told about it (and what it is used to justify) today.

Oddly enough, no matter what direction or how far my reading and studying took me I never stopped increasing in my condifence that God is exactly who he says he is. And throughout this time, my love and concern for fellow believers has grown.

It was after going through this learning process and seeing the level of deceit in our culture reach an astounding level that I realized none of the standard end times perspectives provided me with a suitable answer.

I saw that the world was much more rotten than I previously realized. In fact, it was reaching the point of being laughable. A year and a half ago, during the height of Covid testing with fear inducing positive rates, reports stated that hospitals and testing centers were overflowing. So I went to our local hospital’s testing center. It was a Sunday afternoon. There were about 2 miles of cones marking lanes leading up to the drive through testing center. There were a dozen or so medical workers sitting inside the drive through tent. But there were a total of zero cars in line for testing. Wait, what?

And just about a week ago were learned in media reports that over 300 pediatic covid patients had died in Florida over the span of a couple of days (now the same thing is being reported in Texas).. This report made a huge impact on many minds. But when challenged, the report was quietly removed like it never existed.

These examples are maybe 0.001% of the deceit that is bombarding our culture. And it’s not subtle. It’s bold, it’s brazen, it’s mind boggling.

Maybe I’m the dense one. But I don’t see the mainline churches providing a framwork upon which we can make sense of things and walk through our days free from anxiety.

In June of this year I reached the limit of my ability to cope with these things.

Please understand that I knew that God was allowing these things to go on. And I am fine with that. I had no lapse of confidence in God’s wisdom, will, or methods. What I needed was an updated paradigm or template through which to view all of this.

It might be difficult for the reader to understand my last sentence, and I won’t try to explain it but will just state what I was thinking at the time, which is this: I was not able to reconcile our current world and also the things that have occurred in this world over the last two thousand years with the idea that generation after generation have been and are waiting for the promised “soon” return of Jesus. Up until June of this year I was able to accept this, but that is no longer the case.

Preterism at this point was the furthest thing from my mind. I didn’t even know what it meant beyond the notion that some end time prophecies have already been fulfilled. But preterism, full preterism, is ultimately where I ended up.

As I said in my previous post, I don’t have all the answers. I have a conceptual framework that provides me with a means to process all that I see going on..

If you’re wondering if this change in perspectiive is working to reduce anxiety and bring about peace, the answer to that question is an unqualified yes. And bringing that same peace to others is my only motivation for sharing this. I don’t doubt that there are non-preterist believers walking through this world who by God’s grace little to no anxiety. But I can also say definitively that I am not one of them.

God bless you.

A Most Important Reminder

C. H. Spurgeon

This Evening’s Meditation

“Abide in Me.” — John 15:4

Communion with Christ—is a certain cure for every ill. Whether it is the wormwood of woe, or the cloying surfeit of earthly delight—close fellowship with the Lord Jesus will take bitterness from the one, and satiety from the other. Live near to Jesus, Christian, and it is matter of secondary importance whether you live on the mountain of honor—or in the valley of humiliation. Living near to Jesus, you are covered with the wings of God, and underneath you are the everlasting arms.

Let nothing keep you from that hallowed fellowship, which is the choice privilege of a soul wedded to the Well-beloved. Do not be content with an interview now and then—but seek always to retain His company, for only in His presence—have you either comfort or safety. Jesus should not be unto us, a friend who calls upon us now and then—but one with whom we walk evermore. You have a difficult road before you—see, O traveler to heaven, that you go not without your guide. You have to pass through the fiery furnace; enter it not unless, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, you have the Son of God to be your companion. You have to storm the Jericho of your own corruptions; do not attempt the warfare until, like Joshua, you have seen the Captain of the Lord’s host, with His sword drawn in His hand. You are to meet the Esau of your many temptations; meet him not until at Jabbok’s brook you have laid hold upon the angel, and prevailed.

In every case, in every condition, you will need Jesus; but most of all, when the iron gates of death shall open to you. Keep close to your soul’s Husband, lean your head upon His bosom, ask to be refreshed with the spiced wine of His pomegranate, and you shall be found of Him at the last, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. Seeing you have lived with Him, and lived in Him here—you shall abide with Him forever!

Our Caring Savior

C. H. Spurgeon

This Morning’s Meditation

January 6 — Morning

“Casting all your care upon Him—for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

It is a happy way of soothing sorrow, when we can feel, “HE cares for me.” Christian! do not dishonor religion by always wearing a brow of worry—come, cast your burden upon your Lord. You are staggering beneath a weight—which your Father would not feel. What seems to you a crushing burden—would be to Him but as the small dust of the scale. Nothing is so sweet as to

“Lie passive in God’s hands,
 And know no will but His.”

O child of suffering—be patient. God has not passed you over in His providence. He who is the feeder of sparrows—will also furnish you with what you need. Do not sit down in despair; hope on, hope ever. Take up the arms of faith—against a sea of trouble, and your your distresses shall end. There is One who cares for you! His eye is fixed on you! His heart beats with pity for your woe! His omnipotent hand shall yet bring you the needed help! The darkest cloud—shall scatter itself in showers of mercy. The blackest gloom—shall give place to the morning. If you are one of His family—He will bind up your wounds, and heal your broken heart. Do not doubt His grace, because of your troubles—but believe that He loves you as much in seasons of distress—as in times of happiness. What a serene and quiet life might you lead—if you would leave providing—to the God of providence!

With a little oil in the cruse, and a handful of meal in the barrel, Elijah outlived the famine, and you will do the same. If God cares for you—why need you care too? Can you trust Him for your soul—and not for your body? He has never refused to bear your burdens—He has never fainted under their weight. Come, then, soul! Be done with fretful worry—and leave all your concerns in the hand of a gracious God!

The Last Adam

C. H. Spurgeon

This Morning’s Meditation

“The last Adam.” 1 Corinthians 15:45

Jesus is the federal head of His elect. As in Adam, every heir of flesh and blood has a personal interest, because he is the covenant head and representative of the race as considered under the covenant of works. So under the covenant of grace, every redeemed soul is one with the Lord from heaven, since He is the Second Adam, the Sponsor and Substitute of the elect in the new covenant of love.

The apostle Paul declares that Levi was in the loins of Abraham when Melchizedek met him—it is a certain truth that the believer was in the loins of Jesus Christ, the Mediator, when in old eternity the covenant settlements of grace were decreed, ratified, and made sure forever. Thus, whatever Christ has done—He has wrought for the whole body of His Church. We were crucified in Him and buried with Him (Col. 2:10-13), and to make it still more wonderful, we are risen with Him and even ascended with Him to the seats on high (Eph. 2:6). It is thus that the Church has fulfilled the law, and is “accepted in the beloved.” It is thus that she is regarded with delight by the righteous Jehovah, for He views her in Jesus, and does not look upon her as separate from her covenant head.

As the Anointed Redeemer of Israel, Christ Jesus has nothing distinct from His Church, but all that He has—He holds for her. Adam’s righteousness was ours so long as he maintained it; and his sin was ours the moment that he committed it. And in the same manner, all that the Second Adam is or does—is ours as well as His, seeing that He is our representative. Here is the foundation of the covenant of grace. This gracious system of representation and substitution, which moved Justin Martyr to cry out, “O blessed change, O sweet substitution!” This is the very groundwork of the gospel of our salvation, and is to be received with strong faith and rapturous joy!

Our Inner Life

C. H. Spurgeon

This Morning’s Meditation

“You are an enclosed spring, a sealed fountain.” Song of Solomon 4:12

In this metaphor, which has reference to the inner life of a believer, we have very plainly the idea of secrecy. It is an enclosed spring. There were springs in the East, over which an edifice was built, so that none could reach them, but those who knew the secret entrance. Just so, is the heart of a believer when it is renewed by grace—there is a mysterious life within—which no human skill can touch. It is a secret which no other man knows; nay, which the very man who is the possesses it—cannot explain to his neighbor.

The text includes not only secrecy—but separation. It is not the common spring, of which every passer-by may drink, it is one kept and preserved from all others. It is a fountain bearing a particular mark—a king’s royal seal—so that all can see that it is not a common fountain—but a fountain owned by a proprietor, and placed specially by itself alone. So is it with the spiritual life. The chosen of God were separated in the eternal decree; they were separated by God in the day of redemption; and they are separated by the possession of a life which others have not. It is now impossible for them to feel at home with the world, or to delight in its pleasures.

There is also the idea of sacredness. The enclosed spring is preserved for the use of some special person—and such is the Christian’s heart. It is a spring kept for Jesus. Every Christian should feel that he has God’s seal upon him—and he should be able to say with Paul, “From henceforth let no man trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.”

Another idea is prominent—it is that of security. Oh! how sure and safe is the inner life of the believer! If all the powers of earth and hell could combine against it—that immortal principle must still exist, for He who gave it pledged His life for its preservation. And who “is He who shall harm you,” when God is your protector?

God’s Grace, God’s Power, Our Weakness

C. H. Spurgeon

Today’s Morning Meditation

November 4

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

A primary qualification for serving God with any amount of success, and for doing God’s work well and triumphantly, is a sense of our own weakness.

When the Christian warrior marches forth to battle, strong in his own might, when he boasts, “I know that I shall conquer, my own right arm and my conquering sword shall get unto me the victory!” then defeat is not far distant. God will not go forth with that man who marches in his own strength. He who reckons on victory by his own strength—has reckoned wrongly, for “it is not by might, nor by power—but by My Spirit, says the Lord Almighty.” They who go forth to fight, boasting of their prowess—shall return with their mirthful banners trailing in the dust, and their armor stained with disgrace.

Those who serve God—must serve Him in His own way, and in His strength, or He will never accept their service. God will never own that man who works, unaided by divine strength. The mere fruits of the earth—He casts away; He will only reap that grain, the seed of which was sown from heaven, watered by grace, and ripened by the sun of divine love.

God will empty out all that you have—before He will put His own into you; He will first clean out your granaries—before He will fill them with the finest of the wheat. The river of God is full of water—but not one drop of it flows from earthly springs. God will have no strength used in His battles—but the strength which He Himself imparts.

Are you mourning over your own weakness? Take courage, for there must be a consciousness of weakness before the Lord will give you victory. Your emptiness—is but the preparation for your being filled; and your casting down—is but the making ready for your lifting up!

Last Things

Matthew 13:36-43

Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Zephaniah 1:1-6

The word of the LORD which came unto Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hizkiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah.

I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD.

I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumblingblocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the LORD.

I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the Chemarims with the priests;

And them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops; and them that worship and that swear by the LORD, and that swear by Malcham;

And them that are turned back from the LORD; and those that have not sought the LORD, nor inquired for him.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

2 Peter 3:10-13

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

Zephaniah 1:7-18

Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord GOD: for the day of the LORD is at hand: for the LORD hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests.

And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD’S sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel.

In the same day also will I punish all those that leap on the threshold, which fill their masters’ houses with violence and deceit.

And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, that there shall be the noise of a cry from the fish gate, and an howling from the second, and a great crashing from the hills.

Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh, for all the merchant people are cut down; all they that bear silver are cut off.

And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil.

Therefore their goods shall become a booty, and their houses a desolation: they shall also build houses, but not inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, but not drink the wine thereof.

The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly.

That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness,

A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers.

And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung.

Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD’S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.