The Perfection of Salvation and Passing of the Old Covenant
FIRST NEGATIVE BY KURT SIMMONS
He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbor cometh and searcheth him out. Proverbs 18:17
Don is a wonderful brother and good friend. His work defending Preterism is unsurpassed. I am sure we will all learn a great deal from this exchange. I am thankful that we can have this sort discussion in a spirit of brotherly love and affection.
I should say at the outset, that Don offers quotes from my books to substantiate his case. But, these do not really help Don. As I informed Don when we entered this discussion, although at one time I shared many of his views, I no longer do. I repudiate all things Max King! It is because I have learned better that we are having this discussion at all. Here are the issues of this debate:
To what event does scripture attach man’s salvation, the death of Christ upon the cross, or his coming in wrath upon the Jews and Romans?
Was the law fulfilled and the legal efficacy of the Old Testament end at the cross, or did it remain valid and binding until the second coming?
Was remission of sins and fulness of grace available from and after the cross, at Pentecost when the gospel was first preached were sins remitted and washed away, or was salvation from sin postponed until Jerusalem fell?
Every Christian knows that the Bible places salvation at the cross. The cross was the defining event of salvation history that makes resurrection possible. Paul said, “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 6:14). Paul told the Colossians God had “forgiven you all trespasses;” Christ’s blood had “blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us;” Jesus “took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross, triumphing over principalities and powers in it” (Col. 2:14, 15). These are the very essentials of the gospel; everything of redemptive significance from sin happened at the cross. There are no more basic doctrines to the faith delivered “once for all” to the saints than these. The cross is bedrock Christian stuff.
Yet, Don finds himself on the wrong end of every one of these propositions. Don places salvation from sin at the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 rather than Calvary AD 33. Don denies that the law was fulfilled (satisfied) at the cross. He believes instead that the Old Testament was valid and binding until AD 70; he affirms that man continued under bondage to sin until Jerusalem fell, and that then, and not before, was man justified and restored to a full and perfect relationship with God. My study of Don’s books and articles leads me to conclude that under his system man is not saved by the addition of grace at the cross, but by removal of the law at the fall of Jerusalem.
Consider: If the cross triumphed over the law, if Jesus paid the debt of sin in his death, the law could have no further power over Christians. A debt paid is extinguished forever. But if the cross did not triumph over the law at Calvary, if man had to wait until the law was removed to be justified from sin, then nothing happened at the cross.
Let us repeat that lest it be missed. If the cross did not triumph over the law at Calvary, if man had to wait until the law was removed to be justified from sin, then nothing happened at the cross. This is the long and short of Don’s teaching: nothing happened at the cross.
Historical Background to this Discussion – Understanding Our Positions
It will be helpful to the reader to understand Don’s and my respective positions if we pause briefly to survey the history of Preterism over the last 40 years and the different schools that have grown up. If you have read Don’s books, you may have noticed that Don refers to his particular version of eschatology as “Covenant Eschatology.” Covenant Eschatology is not Preterism. Preterism merely assumes a “contemporary-historical” interpretation of New Testament prophecy regarding Christ’s second coming; it affirms that the second coming, including the general resurrection, occurred in the events culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. Covenant Eschatology affirms all this and more.
Covenant Eschatology is the brain-child of Max King, a Church of Christ preacher who came to the front of the modern Preterist movement with the publication of his book “The Spirit of Prophecy” (1971. Warren, OH). The phrase “Covenant Eschatology” was coined by King’s father-in-law, C.D. Beagle. Covenant Eschatology sees Biblical eschatology in terms of covenantal transformation from Moses to Christ. The two identifying features of Covenant Eschatology are King’s spiritualized view of the resurrection and the notion that the Old Testament was valid and the saints under the debt of sin until AD 70.
According to King, Judaism was a “power or system of death”, and “became a ‘body of death’ by the old law. For King, the “resurrection of the body or the church” applies to the raising up of the church “from the Jewish body...at the fall of Judaism.” “One must look to the Jewish system as the state and power of death to be destroyed by the reign of Christ.” “Paul is conscious that death’s defeat hinges upon sin’s defeat, and that the defeat of sin is tied to the annulment of the old aeon of law…For Paul, death is abolished when the state of sin and the law are abolished.” “When the ‘ministration of death written in tables of stone’ was finally destroyed, death was swallowed up in victory.”
Of course, this is all perfectly frivolous. The Gentile churches of Athens, Collosse, Thessalonica, Rome, and Ephesus in the “grave of Judaism?” “Raised from the Jewish body” at Jerusalem’s fall? The sheer fantasy and nonsensical nature of the teaching aside, the sum and substance of King’s spiritualized view, then, is that mankind was in bondage to sin by virtue of the Mosaic law, but was justified from sin by removal of the law at AD 70. Therefore, for King, “resurrection” equals “justification” and justification results from removal of the law. “The defeat of sin is tied to the annulment of the old aeon of law...death is abolished when the state of sin and the law are abolished.”
The idea that the general resurrection was in AD 70 is perfectly sound. All Preterists are agreed in this. However, once the spiritualized view is adopted and resurrection is equated with justification, the cross is displaced by the second coming; justification is moved from Calvary to the fall of Jerusalem. However, Covenant Eschatology doesn’t stop there; it does not merely change the timing by which justification accrued to the church. No, it goes much, much further, and actually changes the means of justification itself.
Covenant Eschatology affirms that it is only by removal of the Old Law that justification is possible. In other words, the very substance of our salvation becomes removal of the law, rather than the addition of grace. Paul said, “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Rom. 5:20). Grace overcomes law! Paul places grace at the cross; the idea that the law had to be removed is totally foreign to Paul’s soteriology (theology of salvation). The grace inherent in Christ’s cross triumphs over sin and the law. However, Covenant Eschatology says “where grace did abound, the law did much more abound.” The cross does not triumph over law; bondage to sin survives the cross, and is only taken away in AD 70! Thus, the cross is totally negated and annulled. It has no part in salvation. If it does, Don should please tell us what that part is, for I confess I cannot find or understand it in his system.
Don, like many others, came under the early influence of King. King was at the front of Preterism in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s until his system of eschatology led him into Universalism. We believe that King’s system is inherently Universalistic, but that is not a matter we can take up here. Don has not followed King into Universalism, but otherwise embraces King’s views. In fact, it was King who first (so far as I know) asserted that Rom. 11:25-27 referred to the second coming (which is Don’s affirmative in this debate). Don is very explicit that “forgiveness of sin did not arrive until AD 70”. Don is also very explicit that it is only by removal of the law that man is justified: “The destruction of the temple signaled that God’s covenant with Israel was now fulfilled. He had kept his Word and, ‘brought life and immortality to light through the gospel’ (2 Timothy 19f). The ‘law of life in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 8:13), now stood triumphant over the law that was ‘the strength of sin,’ (Romans 7:7f)” (emphasis Don’s). PLEASE NOTE: Don says the law had to be removed before sin was defeated! What Paul places at the cross, Don moves to AD 70! Here is another quote: “You cannot logically affirm the fulfillment of the resurrection in AD 70... and not affirm the end of whatever law it was that held the condemning power over man.” Thus, according to Don, we are saved by the removal of law, not the addition of grace. The cross accomplished nothing, for it is not until AD 70 when the law is removed that sin is defeated. The cross has vanished from Don’s soteriology.
Max King’s Soteriology & Eschatology
Resurrection = Justification = Removal of Old Law (AD 70)
“death is abolished when the state of sin and the law are abolished”
WHERE IS THE CROSS?
This brief review should help the reader understand the origin of Don’s and my differences and what is at stake. Reduced to its simplest form, it is a question of Covenant Eschatology versus Cross-based Soteriology. Did justification obtain at the cross, or at the fall of Jerusalem? Did the cross fulfill the law and cancel the debt of sin, or did it not? That is the question.
What Don Must Prove
Don has the affirmative, therefore the burden of proof is his. His proposition states, “The Bible teaches that the coming of Christ for salvation in Romans 11:25-27 occurred in AD 70 at the climax and termination of the Mosaic Covenant Age.” We have already seen that Rom. 11:27 involves salvation from sin. Hence, Don must prove:
1) The coming referred to is the second, not first, advent of Christ.
2) The judgment and sentence associated with sin hung over the saints until AD 70; viz., the cross did not cancel sin’s debt.
3) AD 70 represented the legal climax and termination of the Mosaic Covenant age; viz., the law, including circumcision, animal sacrifices, the priesthood, dietary restrictions, etc, was valid and binding until AD 70.
4) The judgment and sentence associated with sin were set aside in AD 70 by annulment of the law.
Don must prove each of these to carry his burden of proof. I need only negate one of these to prevent him from carrying his proposition. It is like a trial where the prosecution must prove each element of the crime, but the defense need only negate one element to win acquittal. Don therefore has the heavier, more onerous task. We would ask the reader to PLEASE NOTE that Don has not and cannot produce even ONE VERSE that states the saints were under the debt of sin until AD 70. NOT ONE. I can, and when it is my turn to be in the affirmative will, produce dozens of verses that expressly state that justification was a present possession of the saints, that they had forgiveness of sins and fulness of grace before AD 70. I will produce some in this negative. But Don has not and cannot produce EVEN ONE. His whole ability to keep men under the debt of sin until AD 70 is based upon argumentation from faulty assumptions to wrong conclusions. You know the type I mean. Jehovah’s witnesses say “The Bible prohibits eating blood. People who are sick are fed intravenously. What is introduced into the body intravenously is therefore equivalent to eating. Blood transfusions are conducted intravenously. Therefore, blood transfusions are equivalent to eating blood and unlawful.” Seems logical, right? But there is not one verse in the Bible that actually teaches against blood transfusions. The whole thing is built upon deductive reasoning. Don is a MASTER of deductive reasoning; his books are saturated with logical syllogisms. But virtually anything can be proved this way. “All crows are black. This bird is black. Therefore, this bird is a crow.” Really? Are crows the only birds that are black? Might not this bird be a raven or some other species? What we need are not syllogisms, but VERSES! And Don has NONE. He cannot produce even one verse that says New Testament saints were under the debt of sin until AD 70. His whole ability to make you think the saints were under the debt of sin until AD 70 is based upon faulty argumentation. Don builds exegetical paradigms in the sky. But since Jehovah’s Witnesses can prove by logic and argumentation that blood transfusions are unlawful, that you can’t celebrate birthdays, you can’t vote, and Christ isn’t God, this sort of thing really proves NOTHING. Here is a box. Let Don put in it all the verses he can that expressly state the saints were under the debt of sin from and after the cross. At the end of this discussion the box will still be empty and Don will not have carried his proposition.
I can produce PAGES OF VERSES that make salvation, justification, grace, and forgiveness of sin the present possession of the saints. Don cannot produce even one verse. What does that tell you about Don’s system of eschatology? The most important, single topic in the WHOLE BIBLE and Don does not even have ONE VERSE. Startling isn’t it? This is a wake up call for those that embrace the Corporate Body View! Your whole edifice is built upon a supposition that does not have a single verse to support its most basic supposition! Don’t believe me? Just try and find one to put in the box!
I am sure Don would like me to take the bait and use up my allotted space following him down all sorts of rabbit trails, answering questions, and interacting with his affirmative. Why should I? He has not produced a single verse to substantiate the most important topic of this discussion, if not the whole Bible. Why should I involve myself in discussion about the proper exegesis of Isaiah 26, 27 and 59 and what light that may or may not throw on Rom. 11:25-27 if Don cannot produce even ONE VERSE to show the debt of sin still hung over the saints from and after the cross? I do not say this to embarrass or belittle Don. I am sure Don does not even realize that he doesn’t have a single verse he can produce. I am hoping to save my brother from what I deem a dangerous system of theology, a system of theology that negates the cross, by now calling it to his attention. As the quotes Don produces from my earlier works show, I too was at least partly under similar misapprehensions at one time. But I have studied and have disabused myself of them, and I thank God I have seen my error. I pray God will grant that I may see and repent all my errors! Imagine the culpability of impugning the cross of Christ, even unintentionally! Don, for your own sake, take the challenge; bring forward your verses. And when you can’t produce even one, awake as from a trance out of the system of teaching you have become enmeshed in; renounce Max King’s Covenant Eschatology. Preterism is completely sound. But this? Never!
I have now used up just over five pages. I could stop here and not write another word. The burden of proof is Don’s. He never has and never will produce even one verse stating that the saints were under the debt of sin by the law until AD 70. But, since I have the space, I will gratuitously continue on. Since, I only need to negate one of the points of Don’s proposition, I will focus upon what matters most: 1) when justification accrued to the saints, and 2) when the Old Covenant was legally abrogated and nullified. We will deal with the last first.
Don’s favorite proof text for extending the validity of the law until AD 70 is probably Matt. 5:17, 18. This is a favorite Preterist proof text, and it is horribly abused. So, let us begin here. Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Three points need to be discussed: 1) the meaning of “heavens and earth” – metaphoric or parabolic? 2) Fulfillment of the law; and 3) Nullification of the law.
Heavens & Earth
Normal Preterist misuse of this passage proceeds upon the assumption that Jesus uses “heavens and earth” in a mystical, metaphoric sense, a hidden double meaning where they are symbols for the Old Testament temple and system. Don does this all through his books. He argues that the Jews viewed the temple as “heaven and earth” and that Jesus is mystically referring to it here. Don believes that the “heavens and earth” of Matt. 24:35 mystically refer to the temple complex. He believes the “heavens and earth” of Heb. 12:26, 27 and II Pet. 3 are the Old Testament law and system, the “covenantal world of the Jews.” This is wrong; it contradicts the established usage of the prophets whereby the “shaking” of the heavens and earth in times of national and world judgment had no covenantal significance whatever (Isa. 13:-13; 34:1-10; Ezek. 32:7, 8; Joel 3:16, 17; Hag. 2:6, 7, 21, 22). Don is aware that the prophets’ use of the heavens and earth to describe times of judgment upon the world and various nations, and that they carry no covenantal significance. He cites them in his books. In fact, he cites N.T. Wright, who says that the prophets employ imagery of shaking the heavens and earth, not covenantally, but socio-politically and militarily. Indeed, Don makes identical statements himself. There is not one single occasion in the whole Bible where the heavens and earth refer to the Old or New Testaments – not one. They are always socio-political, never covenantal.
More to the point, Jesus does not use "heaven and earth" in Matt. 5:18 metaphorically in any event. Rather, Jesus evokes the heavens and earth parabolically. He compares the word of God to the heavens and earth as things divinely permanent, immutable, and irremovable to show that, as the cosmos has been established by God's word and cannot fail or be removed, so the promises and prophecies contained in the law and prophets cannot fail, but must surely be fulfilled. What Jesus is actually saying, then, is that it is easier for heaven and earth to pass than that a single dot or stroke of the law to pass without first being fulfilled. And, in fact, he says this very thing in Luke 16:17: "And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail." This parallel saying therefore controls our interpretation and precludes making more out of Matt. 5:18 than the Lord himself intended. A simple comparison of similar passages will prove that the permanence and immutability of the heavens and earth are evoked parabolically to show that it would be easier for them to fail than God’s purpose and word to fail; there is nothing “covenantal” intended at all. (See Matt. 24:34; Lk. 16:17; Jer. 31:35, 36.)
This is the very heart of the matter. Don urges that Jesus has his second coming in view in Matt. 5:18 and that the law was therefore not fulfilled until that time; Don argues that the law was valid, binding and obligatory until AD 70. This is wrong. Jesus is speaking about his earthly mission, not second coming, telling the Jews why he was come. Matt. 5:17 establishes this fact beyond dispute: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law and prophets; I am not come to destroy but to fulfill.”
What coming is in view? The second? No! The first. When would Jesus fulfill the law? At his second coming? No! His first! He did not say, “I will come again and then fulfill,” but “I AM COME TO FULFILL!” Jesus fulfilled the law at his first coming. There is simply no avoiding the obvious meaning of the text. From the Nativity to Calvary, Christ fulfilled the law. Over and over again we encounter the evangelists’ testimony “now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled” (Matt. 1:22); “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken” (Matt. 2:17); “But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled” (Matt. 26:56). Matthew alone makes statements of this sort 13 times. (Matt. 1:22; 2:15, 17, 23; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17; 13:35; 21:4; 26:54, 56; 27:9, 35) Mark makes similar statements twice (Mk. 14:49; 15:28); Luke twice (4:21; 24:44); John eight times affirms “these things were done that the scripture should be fulfilled” (Jn. 12:38; 13:18; 15:25; 17:12; 19:24, 28, 36, 37). Thus, twenty-five times in the gospels we are informed Jesus fulfilled the law and prophets. Acts adds to this four more (Acts 1:16; 3:18; 13:27, 29). Indeed, Jesus, before he died, cried out from the cross “It is finished!” (Jn. 19:30; cf. Matt. 27:50), showing that he had completed the work his Father gave him to do. Luke even states “And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre” (Acts 13:29). And when all was fulfilled regarding Jesus’ life, God fulfilled the remainder when he raised him from the dead (still first coming)!
“And we declare unto you glad tiding, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again” (Acts 13:32, 33).
GOD HATH FULFILLED! First coming, not second! The gospels abundantly prove that Jesus fulfilled the law and prophets in his first coming beginning with the Nativity. However, it is at the cross that the debt of the law was paid, terminating the Old Covenant. The end and object of the whole law was the cross of Christ. The temple, the ceremonies, the priesthood, and untold other incidentals and minutia of the Mosaic law all stood as one grand object lesson, one great prophetic type pointing to Christ and his all-sufficient sacrifice upon the cross. Jesus’ death fulfilled the law of sin and death, which required blood sacrifice in atonement for sin. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul” (Lev. 17:11). The blood of bulls and goats could not take away sins (Heb. 10:4). But the blood of Christ could and did. Jesus was the greater and more perfect sacrifice, which the priesthood, temple service, and animal sacrifices looked to.
“Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not, but a body hast thou prepared for me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.” Heb. 10:5-7)
Notice what the writer states, “When HE COMETH INTO THE WORLD.” What coming is this? Clearly, it is the first coming. “I COME TO DO THY WILL, O GOD.” What was God’s will? That Jesus fulfill the law, providing redemption. Fulfilling the law was a first coming event, not second. Any question is resolved by what the writer of Hebrews says next.
“Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By which will we are sanctified by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:8-10).
Here is unequivocal evidence that the sacrifice of Christ fulfilled the law. The writer says “HE TAKETH AWAY THE FIRST, THAT HE MAY ESTABLISH THE SECOND.” What is the first? The Old Testament! When would the Old Testament be taken away? When the law of blood sacrifice was once for all fulfilled. What is the “second” Christ came to establish? The New Testament! God’s will that Christ satisfy the debt of sin becomes for us THE NEW TESTAMENT! We are SANTIFIED ONCE FOR ALL by the offering of the body of Jesus. The writer of Hebrews thus continues: “For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” HATH PERFECTED FOREVER. When? At his second coming? No! His first coming. Don wants our perfection to be put off to AD 70; he wants to keep the debt of sin hanging over the saints until the second coming when they are “resurrected” (justified) by removal of the law. Don embraces a “cross-free” salvation; his eschatology demands it. You cannot place justification at the cross and have a spiritualized resurrection in AD 70! But the writer of Hebrews uses the perfect tense, saying the work was already accomplished. “HATH PERFECTED FOREVER.” Jesus has perfected us forever by the addition of grace, not removal of the law. Memorize that: WE ARE SAVED BY THE ADDITION OF GRACE, NOT REMOVAL OF LAW! GRACE TRIUMPHS OVER LAW! The second coming added nothing to the cross. It was a complete irrelevancy in terms of man’s redemption from sin. (If you doubt that, just go back and look at Don’s empty box!)
The writer of Hebrews said above that in Jesus’ death the first covenant was taken away and the second was established. He calls this second covenant a “will.” We have all heard of a “last will and testament.” When does a testator’s will attain legal authority and power? The Hebrew writer answers: “A TESTAMENT IS OF FORCE AFTER MEN ARE DEAD” (Heb. 9:17). This verse is dispositive of the issue when the gospel brought justification to man; it is conclusive of the issue when the New Testament came into force and effect: At Jesus’ death, not AD 70! This same lesson is set out in Rom. 7:1-4 (emphasis added):
Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but IF THE HUSBAND BE DEAD, SHE IS LOOSED FROM THE LAW OF HER HUSBAND. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, YE ARE BECOME DEAD TO THE LAW BY THE BODY OF CHRIST; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
Paul here uses the law of marriage as an analogy for Israel and the Old Testament. The “woman” is Israel; her “husband” is the Lord; the law of the marriage union was the Old Testament (cf. Jer. 2:2; Ezek. 16:8). Paul says that the Mosaic law was binding upon Israel while her husband lived, and that she would be an adulteress if she married another while her first husband was alive. In Rev. 18:7, national Israel, under delusion that the Old Testament was still in force, boasts “I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.” But she was indeed a widow, for she had murdered her husband in the person of the Son of God, when she caused him to be crucified. Jesus’ death ended the law of Israel’s husband. Under Paul’s analogy, “marrying another” means entering into another covenant, here obeying the gospel of Christ. However, Paul says there is no fear of adultery, because “YE ARE BECOME ARE DEAD TO THE LAW BY THE BODY OF CHRIST”! Could it be clearer? The Old Testament had dominion over Israel; its obligations were as indissoluble as the marriage bond; while it continued in force the debt of sin remained unpaid; man was not justified. But by the death of Jesus, that covenant had been annulled and the saints were justified and freed to marry another; they were loosed from the Old Testament that they might be married to Christ under the gospel. Paul thus says “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2).
Notice the verb tense: “HATH MADE ME FREE” – this is the perfect tense - “FROM THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH.” The perfect tense shows completed action. The first century saints had been freed from the law of sin and death by marriage to Christ under the New Testament. AD 70 does not figure in the equation at all! No waiting until AD 70 to be acquitted from the debt of sin! It is true that the consummation of the marriage did not occur until the eschaton (Rev. 19:7). But the consummation was merely the time when husband and bride cohabited together and shared sexual intimacy. It is NOT the point at which the marriage contract became binding or of legal force and effect. The marriage contract was fully effective under Old Testament law from and after the betrothal. A woman found to have engaged in sexual relations with another man during the betrothal period was guilty of adultery and subject to the penalty of death (Deut. 22:23, 24. Matt. 1:28, 29). Paul said he had betrothed the church to Christ by the gospel (II Cor. 11:2). By Don’s argument, the bride was impure and defiled, stained with sin until AD 70 when Christ consummated the marriage with her. But Paul says “not so!” The gospel had washed and purified the bride from sin – justified her from the debt of the law – during the betrothal period that Christ “might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27).
Jesus justified the church from sin that he might present it to himself at the consummation not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. It could not be more plain or clear. AD 70 is simply nowhere in sight. Don’s argument makes the church an adulteress, for she has contracted marriage to another while the law of her first husband was still valid and binding; he has Jesus a polygamist with two wives at one time, Old Testament Israel and the New Testament church, and he has Jesus consummate the marriage before his wife is washed and made pure! (See I Cor. 6:11 for confirmation when the washing occurred.)
A last text and we shall conclude this part: “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Rom. 6:14). NOT UNDER THE LAW. Clearly, the notion that the law was valid and the saints were under the power of sin until AD 70 cannot be sustained. There are just too many texts that directly contradict that proposition. What does this mean? It means that Max King’s Covenant Eschatology and spiritualized resurrection are false; worse than false, they are found to destroy the cross of Christ. It is a dangerous doctrine and must be fully rejected.
Nullification of the Law
Don's reading of Matt. 5:18 has it that no part of the law or prophets would pass until all parts were fulfilled; if a single prophecy remained to be fulfilled, then the whole law was still valid, binding, and obligatory. To quote Don himself: “There is no escape from this fact: If any Old Testament prophecies remain unfulfilled, then the Old Testament remains in force.” In other words, it all goes out at once, or not at all. But this is not what Jesus meant or even what he said. He did not say, "verily I say unto you that no part of the law or prophets will pass until all parts of the law and prophets are fulfilled." How could he? Micah prophesied Jesus could be born in Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2). That prophecy was fulfilled and passed away. Isaiah prophesied Jesus would be born to a virgin (Isa. 7:14). That prophecy was fulfilled and passed away. There are hundreds of prophecies that came and went before AD 70. But by Don’s argument, there can be no progressive fulfillment of scripture, no progressive fulfillment of the law. All parts remain valid as long as even one part is unfulfilled. This simply makes no sense at all. What Jesus actually is saying in Matt. 5:18 is that “not the least part of the law will pass except it first be fulfilled.” The idea that all must be fulfilled before any of it passed away is a misreading of the text.
Don says the whole law goes out at once, or not at all. Until all the law was fulfilled, all was valid and binding. Thus, by Don’s own admission, if I can show that even one law was nullified, if I can show that the disciples were free to ignore even one law, then they were free to ignore the whole law (exclusive of the moral law, for it will never be nullified). Here there can be no doubt. The New Testament shows that long before AD 70 the disciples were loosed from the sacrificial law, the dietary laws, the laws prohibiting them to eat or keep company with Gentiles, and they were loosed from circumcision. Israel’s dietary laws, laws against marrying and keeping company with Gentiles, and law of circumcision served primarily to keep Israel separate from the nations around her. These laws were tied to the land promises and were inter-related. The laws of the temple also separated the Jews from the Gentiles, who were compelled to worship in the outer court. However, Paul says all these laws were abolished by Christ:
“For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself one new man, so making peace” (Eph. 2:14, 15).
The “middle wall of partition” refers to the wall in the temple that separated the court of the Jews from the court of the Gentiles. The temple and wall, of course, stood until AD 70. But Paul says that the legal separation represented by this wall was done away at the cross. This wall being legally abrogated and done away, the laws and ordinances related to it were abolished as well, including dietary restrictions (Acts 10:9-15; cf. Mk. 7:14-23; Rom. 14:14; I Tim. 4:3-5), laws against keeping company with Gentiles (Acts 10:28-48), the Sabbath and feast days (Col. 2:16); and circumcision (Gal. 5:2, 11). Notice the verb tense of the passage above, “HATH ABOLISHED IN HIS FLESH...THE LAW OF COMMANDMENTS.” This is the perfect tense, showing completed action. The laws Moses set in place to separate Jew and Gentile were abolished in Jesus’ flesh upon the cross. Thus, we find Peter and other disciples keeping company and table fellowship with Gentiles (Gal. 2:11, 12). But when certain false, Judaizing brethren came down from Jerusalem saying (like Don) that the law was still binding and valid, Peter withdrew table fellowship. But Paul rebuked Peter to the face for his duplicity to the truth of the gospel. The issue of circumcision also came up, and the Jerusalem Counsel decided that these laws were no longer binding (Gal. 2:1-10; Acts 15). Don agrees. Don says the land promises were tied to circumcision, but that Paul taught “circumcision was invalid” and that he “unequivocally condemned the religious practice of circumcision.” According to Don, “If God removed circumcision, the sign and seal of the Abrahamic land promise, then the Land Covenant was null and void.” Don says “When Paul wrote...circumcision no longer availed, God had abrogated that mandate.”
Don says that no law would pass until all was fulfilled; he says no law would pass until all passed together; all were valid until none were valid. Yet here is unequivocal evidence that a vast body of laws integral to the temple service and daily life of the Jews was ABOLISHED IN JESUS’ FLESH. The law of the temple service imposed and enforced the rite of circumcision (Acts 21:28, 29). If circumcision was abrogated, then so was the temple service. Paul made no distinction between circumcision and the feast days and other observances of the Jews; his repudiation of circumcision applied equally to them all (Gal. 4:10; cf. Col. 2:16). The land covenant, the law of circumcision, the dietary laws, the feast days, the temple ritual, and laws against keeping company with Gentiles were swept away by the cross! Therefore, by Don’s argument all was fulfilled and the law abolished before AD 70. Consider:
No law would pass until all was fulfilled; all were valid until none were valid.
But Jesus abolished and rendered invalid in his flesh (cross) the law of commandments contained in ordinances.
Therefore, in Jesus’ flesh (cross/crucifixion) the law was fulfilled.
The Cross, The Time of Reformation, and the Age to Come
But if the law was fulfilled and was abrogated at the cross, what about verses like II Cor. 3:11, 13, 14 which states the Old Testament was still “being annulled” or Hebrews 8:13, which says “that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away?” What about verses that mention the “age to come?” What about Heb. 9:9 which mentions the “present time” during which sacrifices were still offered? Don’t these teach that the law somehow remained? Did the two covenants overlap, so that both were valid at the same time? Rom. 7:1-4 teaches that the Old Testament terminated in Jesus’ death that his people might enter a new marriage relationship under the New Testament. If the Old Testament was still binding, the saints would be guilty of adultery for entering a second marriage contract while the law of their first husband was still valid. Therefore, we may safely reject the view that the covenants were both legally valid at the same time. Any lawyer will tell you it is a legal impossibility to have two testaments in force at one time. The only way to have two valid wills, whose terms are conflicting, is for one to be deemed a codicil or amendment of the other. But Jesus was very clear that the gospel was not a piece of new cloth to be added to the tatters of the Old Testament (Mk. 2:21); the two covenants would not co-exist side-by-side or be valid at the same time. What then is the solution?
The answer lies in the distinction between the legal efficacy of the law and its outward forms. The Emancipation Proclamation ostensibly freeing the slaves was made Sept. 22, 1862. It became effective Jan. 1, 1863. Yet, it was not until April 9, 1865, that Lee surrendered and the war concluded. Thus, despite the legal proclamation freeing the slaves, the institution of slavery continued for at least two more years, if not longer. The outward forms continued even though their legal efficacy and validity was gone! The two covenants were similar.
Although Jesus abrogated the Old Testament at the cross, the outward forms of the law – the temple and ritual, the Jewish polity and nation – continued for almost 40 years. The Old Testament was like a tree whose root was severed and dead. The trunk and branches did not immediately wither and fall over, but decayed and waxed old over time, and were ready to vanish at the end of 40 years (Heb. 8:13). The writer of Hebrews shows that the Old Law was not valid when he says, “then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary” (Heb. 9:1). His use of the past tense to show its validity was gone. “The first covenant had,” not the “first covenant has.” The fact that the trunk of the Mosaic tree remained for a time did not mean its root was alive, no more did the fact that the temple and ritual continued to linger on mean that it was valid or approved of God. Just the opposite, God called the temple ritual an abomination because it stood as an implicit denial of Jesus’ Sonship and atoning sacrifice.
“Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool, where is the house that ye build unto me?...He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sarificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a god’s neck: he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations.” Isa. 66:1-3
Stephen quoted this prophecy before the Sanhedrin in defense against the charge he blasphemed the temple (Acts 7:49, 50). Thus, from at least as early as Acts 7 (AD 34), the church recognized that Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary had supplanted the temple service and that it was rejected by God. However, according to Don the ceremonial law was still valid and binding. How can something God abominated have been valid and binding?
Don says “One reason we must see the transition from the Old to the New as an on going process empowered by the Cross but not consummated at the Cross is because that transformation was a ‘last days’ work of the Spirit, and the work of the Spirit did not begin until after the Cross.” I would challenge Don again to please show us how the cross figures in his system, how it empowered anything at all. According to Don, the cross did not triumph over the law, it did not satisfy and annul the debt of sin, it did not justify the saints. No, Don makes all of these things happen at the second coming and then only by removal of the law at the fall of Jerusalem. The cross does nothing, accomplishes nothing, is nothing under King’s system. If we are wrong in this, we welcome correction and look forward to Don’s answer. But to return to the matter more immediately at hand, according to Don, the transition period equals the transformation period that began at the cross. But what is the time of transformation if not the “time of reformation” mentioned Heb. 9:10-11? In that passage, the writer states that the ceremonial law was imposed until the time of reformation. Don makes the time of reformation begin in AD 70. But as reformation and transformation mean the same thing, it is clear that the time of reformation began at the cross. The gifts of the Holy Ghost led the apostles into all truth for the specific purpose of affecting reform (Jn. 16:13). When the gifts ceased, the time of reformation was over, not begun. Don therefore has it backward; he makes the ceremonial law valid and the time of reformation begin where the gifts of the Holy Ghost end! But the ceremonial law pointed to Christ; they foreshadowed Jesus’ work on the cross. Therefore, they were fulfilled in AD 33, not AD 70. Consider:
The ceremonial law was imposed until the time of reformation.
The time of reformation was marked by the ministry of the Spirit
But the ministry of the Spirit began immediately following the cross. Therefore,
The ceremonial law was imposed only until the cross.
Don argues that the Atonement ritual was not fulfilled, the shadow and typology of the Old Law was still valid, and the law therefore binding and obligatory until AD 70. We deny this emphatically. Don assumes that Christ’s ascension equals the High Priest entering the Most Holy Place, thus postponing completion of the Atonement ritual until Christ emerged at his second coming. Don forgets that the High Priest entered the Most Holy Place twice (Lev. 16:14, 15). Yes, TWICE! There were two sacrifices in the atonement ritual: a bull and a goat; blood was carried in twice, once for each sacrifice. But Jesus died only once; he made a once-for-all sacrifice when he died on the Calvary. We believe that the typology of sprinkling the blood before the Mercy Seat was fulfilled when Jesus died. The Hebrew writer agrees, saying that Jesus opened the way into the Most Holy Place through his FLESH (Heb. 10:20). That is, in his death Jesus pierced the legal veil separating man from God. This is why the veil was “rent in twain” from top to bottom when Jesus died, showing that the way was now open and the atonement COMPLETE (Matt. 27:51). The Hebrew writer thus urges Christians to ENTER the presence of God within the Most Holy Place – before AD 70! (Heb. 10:19-22; cf. 6:19). In other words, the legal barrier separating men from God was totally removed in the cross, almost 40 years before AD 70. Isn’t that what Colossians says, that Jesus blotted out the debt of sin, took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross, triumphing over the law in it? (Col. 2:14, 15).
Don wants us to believe that Jesus stood sprinkling his blood for FORTY YEARS (seems long!). But the writer of Hebrews does not portray Jesus standing, offering his blood, but SITTING at God’s right hand waiting for his enemies to be put beneath his feet (Heb. 1:3; 2:8; 8:1; 10:11-14). Jesus being seated is set in opposition to the priests who stood daily ministering. His being seated is specifically cited as proof that the atonement was COMPLETE and man was PERFECTED. “But this man, after he has offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right had of God...for by one sacrifice he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” In the verses that follow, the writer urges believers to ENTER where Don says they could not go – the Most Holy Place, the Presence of God! (Heb. 10:19-22). Regardless of what interpretation DON may want to place upon Heb. 9 to postpone atonement, God spoke decisively when he caused the veil symbolizing the debt of sin to be rent in twain at the cross. God deemed the Atonement ritual FULFILLED and the way into his presence OPENED in JESUS’ DEATH.
Man could not enter the Most Holy Place until the atonement was complete and the law fulfilled;
But the veil was ripped in two in Jesus’ death, and the Hebrew writer urged Christians (pre-AD 70) to enter the Most Holy Place through the blood of Christ. Therefore,
The atonement was complete and the law fulfilled in Jesus’ atoning sacrifice!
Perhaps we can interact with some of Don’s material in our next negative, assuming he can produce a verse (even one) expressly stating the saints remained under bondage to sin from and after the cross. Don has a heavy burden of proof to show that the cross did not cancel the debt of sin or triumph over the law. Let’s see if Don can put any verses in that box.
Meanwhile, here are a couple questions for Don.
1) Did the cross cancel the debt of sin under the law?
2) Does the cross (grace) triumph over law, or did law have to be removed for man to be justified?
These are two very simple gospel questions that we may all use as a standard to measure Max King. If Don says, NO the cross did not triumph over the law or cancel the debt of sin he will have repudiated the cross of Christ (a dangerous deed I hope Don will not do!). If he says, YES, then Don will have repudiated Max King, Covenant Eschatology, and the Corporate Body View. Which will it be? Let us all labor with Don in prayer that he chooses aright.
 . King, The Spirit of Prophecy (Warren, OH, 1971),145
 Ibid, p. 195
 Ibid, p. 144
 Max R. King, The Cross and the Parousia of Christ, p. 644 (emphasis added).
 Max R. King, The Spirit of Prophecy, p. 145
 Consider this syllogism: All men were under the debt of sin by the law (where there is no law, there is no transgression Rom. 4:15; all have sinned and come short of the glory of God Rom. 3:23). No man could be justified from sin until the law was removed. But the law was removed for all men for all time in AD 70. Therefore, all men were justified from the law. Notice that the cross and obedience of faith logically are not required under King’s system for justification. Men are not saved by responding to the gospel one-by-one, but corporately by removal of the law, hence, Universalism.
 The Spirit of Prophecy, pp.215; McGuiggan –King Debate (Warren, OH), pp. 250-253; 268.
 Don K Preston, Like Father, Like Son, On Clouds of Glory (Ardmore OK, 2006), p. 109.
 “Corporate Body View” is a term describing King’s notion that the church/mankind were “corporately” justified (“resurrected”) by removal of the law in AD 70.
 “This language denotes socio-political and military catastrophe.” N.T. Wright, Jesus the Victory of God (Minneapolis, Fortress, 1996), p. 361.
 “It is emotive language, hyperbolically expressing the catastrophic end to a social order, the end of a kingdom.” Don K Preston, Like Father, Like Son, On Clouds of Glory (Ardmore OK, 2006), p. 33.
 Don K. Preston, Like Father, Like, Son, On Clouds of Glory (JaDon Productions, Ardmore, 2006), pp. 190.
 Don K. Preston, Like Father, Like, Son, On Clouds of Glory (JaDon Productions, Ardmore, 2006), pp. 134, 135.
 Ibid, p. 180.
 Ibid, p. 212 (emphasis in original).