I literally just finished preaching on the “New Heavens and New Earth” at the Blue Point Bible Church (well, about 35 minutes to be exact). The crux of my message was to prove that the preaching of a “yet” future “glory” to be revealed is detrimental to the Church growing in the “glory” that is already here. As titled, “The NOW PRESENT- New Heavens and New Earth”. You can listen to that podcast at this link:
In light of all the confusion in the world today, and even the disheartening news article our congregation talked about this morning, “Where is God?”, we so desperately need to understand the application of the “healing of the nations”, The “healing of the nations” is not a far off hope but rather a now present reality we are called to “walk in”.
I made a remark in my sermon that, “”The Futurist confuses the the time of fulfillment in the 1st century, upon whom the consummation of the Ages had come, and stretches that times to ours. In doing so, they offer a deferred hope, and become guilty of “making many sick” (see, Proverbs 13:12)”.
Pastor Robert Iannucilli, pastor of Faith of Fire in Hicksville, N.Y, is a man I admire. He is wise, gracious, and from what I have come to know through conversations both public and private he is honest and seeks truth in all that he says and does. All of which I would say is the mark of a Christian (see, 1 Timothy 1:5)”.
Pastor Iannuccili, is a “Futurist”. He and I had a ‘public conversation’ regarding the ‘narrative’ of the Bible from ‘Cover to Cover’ last February. You can view that on Youtube at the following link:
Some have made the remark that ‘debate’ brings out the details better than ‘conversation’ because it corners and draws out the different perspectives. Who corners people in ‘conversation’?
I would agree, however I believe the ‘understanding of Spiritual/ Scriptural Truth’ comes with patience and perseverance. If I were a ‘worldly debater’ I would seek the best tactic to corner my opponent to prove my case, however as a “Christian” who seeks to glorify God and enable others to live “life to the full” (see John 10:10), I enter ‘conversation’ trusting God will reveal his truth.
I say all of that because in response to the points I made above about “Futurist views”, Pastor Iannucilli make the following remark:
“Justification is ours in provision, Sanctification is ours in process, Glorification is ours in promise. The kingdom has indeed come; inauguration without consummation.”
I must admit. I rather like that quote. It provides substance- we are justified in Christ, sanctified in Christ and yet we await the time when His glory will be revealed in us. The kingdom is indeed here, but we look forward to the grand finale.
On the surface, I am inclined to agree with that statement. After all, I am a sinner, and as I grow in Christ and trust in Christ I will see more of His kindom, just imagine how glorious that is as is proceeds through eternity!!!
Yet there are some contextual problems. And following the “contextual problems” are “doctine problems”, “belief problems”, “false hope problems”, and “application problems”. Must of which I believe are evident in the confusion of the world today. By and lagre, it seems the Church has failed, and is continuing to fail to be the “healing of the nations”.
If we fail to understand something in its’ ‘fullness’, wouldn’t we therefore fail to demonstrate it in its “fullness”?
What I am going to do for the rest of this article is provide responses to some statements and Bible Verses that Pastor Robert Iannucilli brought up rergading a ‘yet-future “glory”’. Following that, I pray we will begin to grow in the application and worldview of what it already present and given to the Church, rather than offer ‘out of context’, ‘based on Tradition’, or ‘subjective’ “hopes” to the world.
First, let’s look at the “earnest” of our inheritance in Ephesians 1:14 and 2 Corinthians 1:22, as asked about by Pastor Iannuccilii:
The Apostle Paul made it very clear in all of his writings that he preached and taught of nothing other than the “one hope” of Israel (see, Ephesians 4:4; Acts 24: ; and Acts 26 ). That being said, when we are reading through the writings written by him as he was “inspired by God”, we are reading about the details of how God was fulfilling all that Israel hoped for- the jots and tittles of the Law as revealed through the Torah and the Prophets.
The “end times” that are being prophesied about in the Old Testament are finding their consummation in the New Testament. These were the “last days” of the Old Covenant (see, Hebrews 8:13). I have a whole presentation on the “hope of Israel” that brings you through the Biblical Prophets and shows you that the “hope” was for a restored ‘covenant’ with God (which is revealed through Jesus fulfilled the “jots” and “tittles” of the Law in that “generation” and it would all find its consummation” at the destruction of Jerusalem (the world/ land- Greek term Ge) – see, Matthew 24:3.
In Ephesians chapter 1, the Apostle Paul is detailing the the summation of all things, or as he puts it “the administration suitable to the fullness of times”, is all summed up in Christ. The Holy Spirit was given as a deposit to the first century saints until the ‘coming of the Lord’ was revealed to complete salvation, see Hebrews 9:28. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all that Israel hoped for. If you follow that understanding, the details are further noted in Ephesians chapters 2 and 3.
Today, Jesus Christ is ‘present’ within the ‘Body of Christ’, this was made clear at the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, and it was made clear that God’s dwelling place is with His people, those who have been brought into the New Jerusalem (in other words, the New Covenant).
In 2 Corinthians 1:22 further explains and exhibits exactly what I said in regards to the deposit of the Spirit and the promises of God.
Pastor Iannucilli asked, “What is the significance (in context) of Paul’s speaking of knowing in part, prophesying in part, etc in 1 Corinthians chapter 13”.
The context of the Apostle Paul’s 1st writing to those at Corinth is surely something many seem to be confused about. The goal of the writing is detailed in the first chapter, and is evident throughout the text. The Apostle Paul is detailing that the divisions happening within the Corinthian congregation are inappropriate and are based on a misapplication of the Gospel as noted in 1 Corinthians chapter 15.
In order to understand the ‘context’ of 1 Corinthians chapter 13, we must remember there were no chapter dividers in the original text and go back to the beginning of the discussion, specifically in chapter 12- “The Use of Spiritual Gifts”. Sadly in the church today this text gives rise to the arguments between ‘charismatics’ and ‘cessationists’ (a debate I have not found a side to sit on), and we miss the ‘context’ of what the Apostle Paul was speaking about.
Simply put, the first century was a tricky time- God was bringing together Jew and Gentile in Christ, fulfilling the promises Israel longed for throughout the ages is a rather “mysterious” way. The two groups had always hated each other (explained a bit in Ephesians chapters 2-3) and now it was being revealed that each person had a part in the body (again, pretty much the point of the Apostle Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians if we start from chapter 1).
As we move into 1 Corinthians chapter 13, specifically verses 9-12, which Pastor Iannucilli asked about, the context is that we can have all the “spiritual gifts” in the world, and if we cannot ‘love one another’, then it is all futile. The Apostle Paul in this context is pointing out that dividing over Spiritual gifts which were only manifestations of the “Spirit” being done “in part” would eventually be done away. The same imagery is explained and maybe a bit more clearly in 2 Corinthians chapters 3-5 (the fading of the Old Covenant and the coming glory of the New Covenant”. As Full Preterist, Michael Sullivan, writes on the topic:
“These miraculous gifts were brought about by the Holy Spirit in Israel’s old covenant “last days” to reveal it’s near end, maturity, and fulfillment as found “in Christ” the mediator of the new and better covenant. The old covenant’s “in part” status had a “goal” and “maturity” process that needed to be fulfilled by the new covenant work of Christ in His redemption performed in the cross and parousia.”
This would all finds its’ completion at the “coming of the Lord” – which was said by Christ Himself to occur while some of those standing in front of Him were alive (Matthew 16:27-28), before they finished going through the cities of Israel (see, Matthew chapter 10), and in that “generation” (see, Matthew 24:24)”.
Pastor Iannucilli also asked, “Is the glorification of our bodies a present spiritual glorification or a future dimension of salvation applied? What’s the purpose / significance of healing if the physical means nothing?”
This I believe is where a lot of the confusion comes in. A contextual look at the ‘Old Testament Prophets’ reveals that it was never a ‘hope’ of Israel to be raised out of “biological death”, what many refer to as some sort of “glorification”. Instead, the contextual hope of Israel is a “resurrection” out of the sin-death which was brought on by the Old Covenant Law.
The “body” that is being resurrected, is the corporate body of Israel under Law (the small and the great, the dead and the living) would be “raised up” and stand before God in judgment – either in glory or condemnation. In AD 70, the “corporate body” of Old Covenant Israel was judged and destroyed, and the “Body of Christ” was fully consummated and established as the “means of salvation” for all men. While the Temple stood, and judgement had not been revealed against Old Covenant Jerusalem- salvation was “already but not yet” (see, Ephesians chapter 1 and 2, as well as Hebrews 9:28).
Simply put, it was not an individual thing. Focusing on some individual “resurrected body” is an exciting teaching that finds it start with Hellentistic (Greek) thinking and man’s teachings – not the “one hope” of Israel as revealed through the Law and the Prophets.
To answer directly the follow up statement made by Pastor Iannuccili, “What’s the purpose/ significance of healing if the physical means nothing?”. Please note…I have not said anywhere that the “physical means nothing”. In context, the “physical” or better said, and more Biblically correct, the “natural” Covenant stood condemned because “natural” or “physical” Israel had not walked worthy of the righteousness through Law. The purpose of this is stated in Galatians chapter 3. “Flesh and blood could not inherit the kingdom of God” (see, 1 Corinthians 15:50). Through the “natural”/ physical, God would demonstrate the Spiritual.
I believe Pastor Iannuccili wanted to make this an ‘individual’ thing, which is out of context. However, I will make the point that through miraculous physical healing, God intends to point to the “greater” healing in Spirit. This was the purpose of Christ’s miracles in the first century, and I would dare say is the point of miracles today.
I believe I have already demonstrated this point, however the last question Pastor Iannucilli asked was, “Is this (presently) as much of a reign of righteousness in the ‘new heavens and new earth’ that we can expect?”
If the whole narrative of the Bible is speaking about man’s failure to attain righteousness on His own, and how God through Jesus Christ would supply His people with righteousness (essentially what I understand through the context of Scripture to be the Gospel), then I must ask, “How much more righteous can Jesus get?”
I am not sure what Pastor Iannuccili is expected as a further “reign of righteousness”, however when I understand the ‘Old Heaven and Old Earth’ as Israel’s Old Covenant- nothing their failure of being the “righteousness of God”, and then I consider the glory that has been revealed through Jesus Christ- Him fulfilling ALL the jots and tittles of the Law”, I sure see a greater magnitude of revealed glory. Not quite sure how to expect any more.
You see….this is not a simple detail we can dismiss by saying, “Oh, ok, difference of opinion”. Jesus Christ said Himself that He came to fulfill the “jots and tittles of the Law”, He went on to say that not “one jot or tittle would pass from the Law, until all is fulfilled”. This is all in Matthew chapter 5 verses 17-19.
The context of the entire Biblical narrative is demonstrating through the details of the Law that Old Covenant Israel “in the natural” could not be “righteous” as was demanded of them, however through Jesus Christ, all men- Jew & Gentile – have the opportunity to become the “righteousness of God” (see, 2 Corinthians 5:19-21).
In order to establish that righteousness, Jesus Christ would fulfill all the details of the Law, which includes ALL the promises made to “Israel of the flesh” (ie, natural Old Covenant Israel). This is detailed specifically in Romans chapter 15:8-9. The Gentiles will worship God for His mercy, when He fulfills the promises made to Israel of the Flesh.
The final point is this…….if the “Resurrection of the Dead”, the “Coming of the Lord”, and the “New Heavens and New Earth” were all promises made to Old Covenant Israel. The “greater glory” that was to be revealed to the first century audience, was revealed exactly how and when God said they would- in that generation. We live in the “outcome” of those events, the reality – in FULL GLORY – of the New Heavens and New Earth.
It is not God that is holding out on the solution for all that this world suffers from, namely the worship and reign of the carnal mind through mankinds sin. No, it’s confusion that reigns within the ‘Body of Christ’ regarding all that God has established and FULFILLED in and through us.
Let us endeavor to walk worthy.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Michael Miano