Recently I was convicted by the following quote from Harry Emerson Fosdick, “A good sermon is an engineering operation by which a chasm is bridged so that the Spiritual goods on one side – the unsearchable riches of Christ – are actually transported into person lives one upon the other”. That being so, I began to detail some of the riches we had in Christ in my sermons at The Blue Point Bible Church.
In this blog I want to specifically highlight the last two sermons I preached. On January 13th I spoke through the “gifts and riches we have in Christ”, namely, the free gift of grace that provides justification as detailed in Ephesians chapters 1-2, as well as Romans chapters 5-6. On January 27th, I outlined the contextual details found in the Book of Romans. In both sermons I explained that in the Scriptures we find the details of “… corporate and individual aspect to God’s gift of grace”. Here are the links to those sermons;
Ironically, these insights run directly against some charges that were made against Full Preterism, namely by Joel Sexton (an online “critic” of Full Preterism), in what he referred to as “soteriological implications”. A few months ago, in discussion with Joel, I had mentioned that I could use further study in the area of justification and how the implications of fulfillment pertain to that specific doctrine. Rather than honest conversation in these details however, Joel would rather join a ragtag group of online “Anti-preterists”, who make the substance of their confused theology to be attacking Full Preterism, and he asserted that this meant I did not understand justification. Also, he asserted that this must lend to my teaching a false gospel. Yikes, quite the charge, eh?
What I would like to do is cite the remarks he made and offer clarifying responses. Surely, you will come to see that Joel’s charges, as often is the case, are unfounded and without merit.
- Joel asserts “If God’s wrath is fully exhausted in AD 70, there is no need for justification today (because justification is tied to judgement. Number 1 of his “Fourfold Soteriological Errors Concerning A Past Judgement). He also ties this to Romans 3:19-26; Romans 5:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 2:16; and Revelation chapter 15.
Joel’s assertions here are strange for someone what has been understood by some to be in the very least a Bible student. The context of the Book of Romans has often confused many, thus what is known as the “Pauline perspectives”, and should be understood in it’s properly context. In Romans chapter 3, the details are speaking to how the Law was used to lock Israel under sin, as well as the whole world (“those who not sinned in the likeness of Adam”). The wrath of God was being revealed against that generation and it was. Joel seems to be misplacing the appropriate understanding of how these details apply and failing to understand the various ways salvation is used throughout the Scriptures. Not to mention, just because something is fulfilled in Scripture, it does not mean the application or the effect have been terminated. Romans chapter 5 connects the details of justification to wrath and atonement, both aspects noted throughout the Law (praise God that recent scholarship has begun to take note of the Jewish context of the Romans letter thereby challenging honest Bible students to properly frame the details as per the “audience relevance”). When the people of God are justified whats the “telos”? Telos is the Greek word for goal or end. The question honest students of Fulfilled Bible Prophecy must study out, and the critics must acknowledge, is what was the goal of God justifying His people? What would a justified people produce? I believe that honest answer alone destroys Joel’s charge that if the wrath is done and over than justification is no longer needed.
I have already outlined most of this and the proper applicability of judgement to the here and now. I would encourage an honest study through the following link, https://www.preteristarchive.com/2018_miano_gods-past-judgment/
- Joel said that the Full Preterism understand of “God’s past judgement” leads to deism and he offered up Romans 3:19-26 and Romans 5:1-11 as his proof-text.
Deism is the philosophical understanding of God’s work within creation, and it makes the case that God does not directly interact with His creation any longer. Not only is this categorically incorrect, Joel’s use of the proof- texts demonstrate nothing. What is does show however is that Joel seems to fail to understand how proper use and understanding of Hebraic narrative and Spirituality actually applies. Maybe we could encourage more study of historical/cultural context and Biblical narrative through teachers like Andrew Perriman, Tom Holland, among others, rather than out-of-context citations of church fathers and reformers. These men, though at times in disagreement in how the story all fits together, are at least honest to admit the journey and do not spend their time attacking opposing positions.
- This next “implication” seemingly demonstrates Joel in the least unknowingly stretching the Scriptures, in the worst willing abusing Scriptures to try and make his points. In number 2 of his “Fourfold Soteriological Implications…”, he says that justification is died to resurrection (which I believe he is asserting a yet future physical resurrection), but if you read the texts, appropriately and in context of course, the “we”, “they”, “ourselves” and “our” terms found in the text should sufficiently hint at the corporate nature of the details being talked about. Not to mention, far more than sufficient studies have been done by lead Preterist teachers to demonstrate the corporate nature and fulfillment of the “hope of Israel” as made known through the Law and the Prophets and preached by Christ and the Apostles.
- In what seems to be another stretch of the Scripture, number 3 of Joel’s “Fourfold Soteriological Implications…” is that Romans 5:1-11 are in the “present active indicative”, as well as the glory in Romans 8:18 – 24. Well, maybe another “Bible student” can explain this one, I’m at a loss for words or thoughts for that matter. Why bring Greek details into what we are asserting the Scriptures clearly teach. Is my English translation sufficient or not?
- And lastly, Joel’s number 4, his last attempt at attacking Full Preterism was a return to his initial point. If Full Preterism is true, which is it regardless to his confused list of “implications”, and there is no more wrath, then there is nothing to be saved from. This time he used Romans 5:8-10 and Ephesians 2:3 as his proof-texts. This is a strange correlation since the context of the passages are speaking about different points. The Romans text is speaking about the justification by faith that the Jews who were enemies of God by way of the death brought forth by sin magnified by the Law. The Ephesians text, speaking about how at one time the Christian Jews and Gentiles had once found themselves living in the same carnality those “in the world” at Ephesus did, at that time living “…by nature deserving of wrath”.
“…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:8-10)
“All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.” (Ephesians 2:3)
Neither of these texts do anything to bolster Joel’s charges, but rather through a proper study of the above verses, one can gain a healthy perspective as to what God was doing in the first century through the Gospel applied to Jews and Gentiles. Wrath would come upon the Jew first, and then the Gentile (Romans 1:16), both being guilty of sin and death, and would this need Christ, the fulfillment of the hope of the forefathers and mercy to the Gentiles (see, Romans 15:8-9). Or as Bible teacher Andrew Perriman has noted in reference to the early chapters of Romans, “Works of Law could not save Israel because the Law could not deal with the root of the problem of human sin; in the end it could only condemn God’s people to destruction. Only those Jews, along with a growing number of Gentiles, who took the narrow path of trusting in the way of Jesus – the way of suffering and vindication – would be justified, would have peace with God, would not come under condemnation, and would find themselves on the right side of history”.
With such a foundation as Fulfilled Bible Prophecy, what I regularly refer to as “the power of Preterism”, we should continue to have faith in the increase of God’s kingdom. That faith demonstrates our justification and provides the provision, the Body of Christ, as a means for justification of others. As brother Steve Baisden recently pointed out in an article he posted online, “Fulfillment does not mean termination”. The fulfillment and effectivity of God’s faithfulness, mercy, grace, and justification was shown and established in the first century and now the church continues to “show forth the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Jesus Christ” (see, Ephesians 2:7).
I made some strong points in this article with the intention to mark out Joel Sexton for what he has become. Not only confused, but on a mission to attack those who hold to the truth. Scripture tells us to mark these men out. I do hope that despite the strong tone, the details were edifying to others, and challenging in the sense that we might “reason together”.
In Service to Him,
Apologist, MGW Apologetics
Pastor, The Blue Point Bible Church