Communion Is Obsolete

When the apostle Paul gave instructions for the practice of communion in the church he mentioned its temporary nature when he said in 1 Corinthians 11:26 that it would be practiced “until He comes.”  This matched perfectly what Jesus Himself had said when He lifted the bread and cup at that fateful Passover meal the night before He was crucified.  He said, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:15-16).  He went on to lift the cup and say with reference to it as well that He would not do so again “until the kingdom of God comes.”

Thus communion was a commemoration of the Lord’s Passover to be relinquished when the reality it foreshadowed had fully come.  We see this reality on the verge of fulfillment in the book of Revelation when Jesus said that He stood at the door, ready to come in a sup with those who received Him (Revelation 3:20).

Therefore, there remains a communion that can be practiced today in the kingdom of God.  It is the fellowship of the Holy Spirit in your heart who discloses to you the thoughts of Jesus.  This is the only communion worth pursuing.  Who pursues the shadow when the substance is available?  (Colossians 2:17)

I hasten to add that communion in New Testament times was practiced by the church while communion in the kingdom of God is something you individually experience with your Creator.  You have no need of any human mediator.  The only mediator given between God and humans is Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5).

(See also Baptism Is Obsolete.)

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

49 Replies to “Communion Is Obsolete”

  1. WOW!
    To be honest, Mike, you are the first man with whom I agree on this topic. Thank you for the biblical background on this, since I always “knew” (felt) that it is not necessary to practice physical communion as soon as one practices spiritual communion with God by eating His flesh and drinking His blood (Jn 6:53-56) merely in the Spirit (Jn 6:63).

    Indeed, what I like about that ‘communion that can be practiced today in the kingdom of God’ is that eating His flesh in my mind always makes me feel His love, and gives me peace and joy. Also, drinking His blood (in my mind) immediately washes any sin completely away (no bad conscience any more). And that’s just why I love it so much! Having experienced this for the first time, I began to wonder why people keep on going to church, practising communion without feeling relieved or even freed afterwards. However, “the flesh is no help at all” (Jn 6:63), and the kingdom of God can only be seen when we live in the Spirit.

    But then here’s what I’ll do (‘cuz it’s my favorite thing to do), when I don’t know how to view, and so, I am asking you 🙂

    (1) I don’t know whether it is true, but reading Gal 5:18 (“But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”), I just asked myself: If one is not led by the Spirit, it seems to me that he or she cannot help but living under the “Law”, be that the Law of Moses, the “Law” (religious rules) of a certain church denomination, the “Law” of another pagan religion, or the “Law” of life in the sense of everything which is against God’s spiritual “Law of Christ”.

    (2) As to Rev 3:20 , i.e. receiving the Lord, I suppose it’s about being baptized by Jesus with the Holy Spirit and fire (Mt 3:11, Mk 1:8, Lk 3:16, Jn 1:33), and thus finally knowing that God is indwelling the individual believer (Jn 14:23, Rom 5:5) who has become part of the (spiritual) kingdom of God.

    Since you are the biblical expert: What do you think about it?

    1. I am not a biblical expert. I just share the parts of the Bible about which I have some understanding.

      For what it’s worth, I think you are speaking wisely. One cannot go wrong by focusing on Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3; Philippians 1:21; 1 John 5:11-13; 2 John 1:9).

  2. Hi Mike,
    The spiritual reality to both communion and baptism (and other things that you list, like no human mediator, etc.), were available in New Testament times, and yet the first century church still practiced both the Lord’s table and water baptism according to the Lord’s commandment.

    What the Lord Jesus actually says in Luke 22 is “I shall by no means drink from now on of the product of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Even if we think that “the kingdom of God” invisibly came in the first century, He doesn’t say they should stop practicing the Lord’s table in remembrance of Him, He only says that He shall by no means drink of the product of the vine until the kingdom comes.

    I wholeheartedly affirm that we can eat and drink of the Lord at any time, and in any place (John 6). This is true today as it was true in the first century church. Nevertheless, the Lord Jesus still instituted the Lord’s table and baptism and the first century church practiced them. I just think that you’re presenting a false dichotomy based on your concept that the church was replaced by the kingdom.

    1. In Paul’s instructions for communion in 1 Corinthians 11:26 he writes, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” (italics added) Later on in the same letter he says, “When the perfect comes, the partial is done away” (1 Corinthians 13:10). It’s pretty obvious that the ritual was instituted for a limited time – as was the Passover Meal before it, of course.

      When Jesus was leading the Last Supper He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; for truly I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.” (Luke 22:17-18, italics added) Later in the New Testament, in the book of Revelation, written truly on the eve of the coming of that kingdom, Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). This statement of Jesus in Revelation was about to be fulfilled, which was the fulfillment of what He had promised at the Last Supper. That is, Christ supping in the individual human heart is the real deal – it is that for which everything else (Israel’s passover meal, the church’s communion table) was a precursor.

  3. Concerning the passages in 1st Corinthians:
    But who in the first centuries of the church thought that the Lord Jesus had come in the first century? We have good evidence that the apostle John was alive until close to the end of the 1st century, and that he had contemporaries like Polycarp who lived well into the 2nd. Why didn’t he or any person or any church established by the apostles make it known that–as you claim–the kingdom had come and therefore the church, the Lord’s table and baptism were “obsolete”? Were even the martyrs who died for Christ’s name in the 2nd century, and yet who spoke of a coming kingdom, not spiritual enough to see that the kingdom had come in full and that these things were obsolete?

    Revelation 3:20 was spoken to the degraded church in Laodicea, concerning the disturbing fact that He was outside the door of that church and knocking to be let back in. The believers could already enjoy spiritual fellowship, visitation, and eating and drinking the Lord who indwelled their hearts (1 John 1:2-3; John 14:23; 6:54, 56-57; 1 Pet. 2:2-3; Eph. 3:17) and could
    offer up spiritual food sacrifices and drink offerings to Him (Eph. 5:2; Phil. 4:18; Phil. 2:17; 2 Tim. 4:6; cf. Num. 15:1-10; 28:7-10) prior to His second coming; hence, the passage describes a restoration of the spiritual fellowship between Christ and the believers in that church, and is not a good match for the universal fulfillment of Luke 22, for the Lord’s promise here is fulfilled on personal basis–“if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, then I will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me.”

    1. I have not had the opportunity to study in depth the history of the first and second centuries. Therefore, I cannot speak to what was and wasn’t recorded regarding the coming of the Lord. As you should be able to easily imagine, however, church leaders would not be interested in promulgating such a message.

      As for martyrs of the church, bear in mind that just because the structure of church was made obsolete by the coming of the kingdom this does not mean that individuals within the church could not love Him, live for Him, and die for Him. Don’t forget that it was Aaron, not some reprobate heathen who made the golden calf. Even today, as through the ages past as well as through the ages to come, the Lord is honoring those who honor Him – whether they are in the man-made church or outside it is irrelevant.

      As for your explanation of Revelation 3:20, I don’t think you’re giving adequate attention to the “standing at the door” metaphor which has reference to the imminence of the Lord’s coming (as emphasized in the opening and closing of the overall letter – see Dating the Events in the Book of Revelation). It is also a metaphor used in James 5:8-9. In that apocalyptic-eschatological age, it was an image that could not fail to evoke the event to which they were all so keen to attain. You seem content with communion, but don’t forget that New Testament believers engaged in it anticipation of something greater soon on the way.

      1. But the “door” that the Lord is outside in the context of Rev. 3:20 is the door of the degraded church in Laodicea, and the promise there is fulfilled on a personal and individual basis by those who themselves open the door–“if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, then I will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me.”

        You seem content with communion, but don’t forget that New Testament believers engaged in it anticipation of something greater soon on the way.

        Rich spiritual fellowship and spiritual judgment were already in effect in the first century church, while the Scriptures were being written. What exactly are you saying changed or was made different when the Lord’s second coming supposedly took place in the first century? That the resurrection of the dead took place and now everyone goes to heaven when they die, apart from a visible, bodily resurrection of the dead? But early Christians (like second temple Jews but even moreso, because of the Lord Jesus’ bodily resurrection and empty tomb) expected a visible, bodily resurrection of the dead.

          1. Try reading Romans 8 in context. If the Spirit dwells in you, indeed the spirit is life because of righteousness (v. 10) and the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace (v. 6). But the One who raised Jesus Christ from the dead will also give life to our mortal bodies (v. 11), the “creation itself” and the “whole creation” (not just an invisible half of creation) will be freed from the slavery of corruption (v. 19-22), and our bodies will be redeemed (Rom. 8:23). Therefore, it is not “fleshly” to believe that there will be a bodily, visible resurrection of the dead, even as the Lord Jesus’ earthly body was resurrected and glorified, leaving behind an empty tomb.

            1. Indeed, all of creation will be redeemed. This redemption will occur, however, as flesh is brought into subjection to the spirit. Satan’s way was for flesh to rule spirit, but Christ’s way is for spirit to rule flesh. Therefore, we should “buffet our bodies and make them our slaves,” taking “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”

              1. But eventually our mortal bodies will be redeemed, transfigured, and glorified in resurrection (Rom. 8:23; Phil. 3:21), and hence no longer corrupted by the flesh of sin, all while remaining visible and bodily, like the Lord Jesus’ body in resurrection.

                Therefore, as I said, it is not “fleshly” to believe that there will be a bodily, visible resurrection of the dead, even as the Lord Jesus’ earthly body was resurrected and glorified.

                  1. On the contrary, Mike, you’ve substituted Paul’s description with your natural, religious concept, and are unable to show that is otherwise. That’s why you make these claims without supporting scriptural evidence.


  4. Paul said we would receive a heavenly, spiritual body like the one Jesus had (1 Corinthians 15). I take his words at face value.

    Mike, really? Since when is a “heavenly, spiritual” body like the one Jesus had not visible and not connected to one’s earthly body? Jesus left an empty tomb, His body was seen and touched, He was beheld ascending visibly and bodily into heaven, and will come again in the same way.

    1. There’s nothing in Paul’s 1 Corinthians 15 description that would lead one to believe that the resurrection body is designed for habitation on earth – quite the opposite. Even Jesus only spent 40 days on earth, and that for the purpose of confirming his resurrection (a purpose none of us will need to pursue). As the earthly body (Adam’s) was made for earthly living, so the heavenly body (Christ’s) is made for heavenly living.

      Your entire interpretive scheme seems to be based on Acts 1:9-11. Are you sure this is the foundational text the Lord would have us use for His coming? And how sure are you that you are interpreting it correctly?

      Are you aware that you don’t even interpret Acts 1:9-11 consistent with your own interpretive scheme? That is, you say that it calls for the Lord to be seen coming physically in just the same way as He was seen going physically, yet you call upon other verses which you interpret as “every physical human eye” seeing Him when He comes. If every eye didn’t see Him leave how can every eye seeing Him return be the same thing?

      1. —-
        There’s nothing in Paul’s 1 Corinthians 15 description that would lead one to believe that the resurrection body is designed for habitation on earth – quite the opposite. Even Jesus only spent 40 days on earth, and that for the purpose of confirming his resurrection (a purpose none of us will need to pursue). As the earthly body (Adam’s) was made for earthly living, so the heavenly body (Christ’s) is made for heavenly living.
        —-
        You’re missing my point. Other passages, which describe the Lord’s body in resurrection, and Christ and the heavenly New Jerusalem (who were both “above” at the time of the apostles’ writing) eventually descending out from heaven, show that heavenly in nature or “from heaven” doesn’t mean “not visible” or designed for a strictly heavenly location instead of earth.

        So when we get to your reading of 1 Cor. 15, you–like the Gnostics, but unlike early Christians and second temple Jews–insist upon only a spiritual resurrection but no bodily resurrection of the dead, but the Lord’s body in resurrection and our bodies being conformed to His contradicts this. You’re insisting upon a radical separation between heaven and earth such that our eschatological hope is escaping the earth and “going to heaven.” I’m saying that redemption is for the whole universe, not one half of the universe, and that God’s economy is that the things of Christ would eventually harmonize all things in heaven and earth.

        —-
        Your entire interpretive scheme seems to be based on Acts 1:9-11. Are you sure this is the foundational text the Lord would have us use for His coming? And how sure are you that you are interpreting it correctly?
        —-
        I’ve provided many other passages and patterns in Scripture that show why you believe what ancient Gnostics did, but not the Scripture says. However, your interpretation of what the angels said in this particular passage was so opposite their words that it exposed your extreme cognitive bias:
        http://blogforthelordjesuscurrentevents.wordpress.com/2012/09/12/response-to-brandon/#comment-2609

        —-
        Are you aware that you don’t even interpret Acts 1:9-11 consistent with your own interpretive scheme? That is, you say that it calls for the Lord to be seen coming physically in just the same way as He was seen going physically, yet you call upon other verses which you interpret as “every physical human eye” seeing Him when He comes. If every eye didn’t see Him leave how can every eye seeing Him return be the same thing?

        Mike, your understanding is befuddled. In context, Acts 1:9-12 indicates that He will return in the “same way” as He was beheld ascending (visibly and bodily) into the clouds unto heaven from the mount of Olives, and other verses indicate that He will descend from heaven upon the clouds to the mount of Olives (Matt. 24:30; Zech. 14:4, etc). This establishes the point that His coming, like His ascension that was beheld, will be not simply be invisible, metaphorical, figurative. All the tribes of the land mourning and seeing His coming and every eye seeing Him openly (Matt. 24:30; Rev. 1:7) is not the same thing as saying that every eye will have the same visual vantage point of His physical return, however the details of His open coming, the ingathering of the nations, etc., play out. I’ve said this already.

        1. You refer to Gnosticism as if it were a well-defined belief system. Perhaps you are unaware of the widely-praised work of Michael Williams from over a decade ago in which he made clear that Gnosticism. I quote here from the Amazon book description: “The modern construct “gnosticism” is not justified by any ancient self-definition, and many of the most commonly cited religious features that supposedly define gnosticism phenomenologically turn out to be questionable.”

          You a proposing a false dichotomy when you say I “…insist upon only a spiritual resurrection but no bodily resurrection of the dead.” Jesus was raised bodily from the dead in a spiritual, heavenly body as described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15. There is no need to create an either-or scenario.

          You seem resistant to recognizing that your view of the Lord’s coming is self-contradictory. Just to take your most recent statement above as an example, you want to say that Acts 1:9-12 provides the picture of the Second Coming. You want to take the words there literally and physically. Yet you quote in support of your idea Matthew 24:30 which says that it’s “the sign of the Son of Man” – not Jesus Himself as He appeared to His disciples on the day of the Ascension – which “appears in the sky” – that is, does not descend from a cloud to the Mount of Olives. Further, the Matthew 24:30 passage that the Son of Man will be “coming on the clouds” – not descending from a cloud as your interpretation of Acts 1 would have it. The Matthew 24:30 passage also says that the Son of Man will come with “power and great glory,” which certainly sounds like more power and glory that attended His ascension. Lastly for this example, you quote Revelation 1:7 which says He is coming “with the clouds” (not “out of” or “on” – and “clouds” not “cloud”). It says also that every eye will see Him but every eye did not see Him when He ascended – nor could every physical eye ever see a physical event on earth given its spherical shape. Thus, though you profess to be taking Acts 1:9-11 literally and physically, your other literal and physical passages do not match it.


          1. You refer to Gnosticism as if it were a well-defined belief system. Perhaps you are unaware of the widely-praised work of Michael Williams from over a decade ago in which he made clear that Gnosticism.

            Have you read the book such that you could direct me to where Michael Williams provides evidence that contradicts what I have been claiming here, that early Christians (like second temple Jews) believed in a visible, bodily resurrection of the dead as opposed to “Gnostics” who generally rejected such things because of a dualism between spirit and flesh?

            You a proposing a false dichotomy when you say I “…insist upon only a spiritual resurrection but no bodily resurrection of the dead.” Jesus was raised bodily from the dead in a spiritual, heavenly body as described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15. There is no need to create an either-or scenario.

            You perpetrate an either-or by insisting, for example, that the resurrection of the dead takes place apart from people’s mortal bodies in the grave being raised even as the Lord Jesus’ was, or that it is “fleshly” or to “put one’s hope in the flesh” or to “make the flesh rule over the spirit” for people to believe that the Lord Jesus will return literally and bodily in the same way as He was beheld ascending into heaven.

            As for your last paragraph, first see my response here
            http://blogforthelordjesuschristianleaders.wordpress.com/2011/07/05/why-is-jesus-called-son-god-and-father/#comment-118
            The Lord Jesus will come again from heaven upon the clouds as the Son of Man at the mount of Olives in the same way as He was beheld going (ascending bodily and visible) as the Son of Man into the cloud unto heaven. If someone says “in the same way as” one would expect that the “same” applies only to the matters generally being compared; it is unnatural to think that every detail, including the ones not specifically mentioned, will be exactly the “same.” I gave a clear illustration of how language operates in this way in the response I linked to above. If a wife told her kids that Dad will return home from the store “in the same way as” they saw him leave for the store from the house in the family station wagon, we would not naturally conclude that he must return at the same time, with exactly the same driving trajectory, by means of the same side of the street, or with the same amount of groceries as when he left, or else it’s all a contradiction that can only be taken figuratively. That’s not how language works.

            As for Matt 24:30, the sequence given is 1) “the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven,” 2) “and then all the tribes of the land will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” The sign of the Son Man appears in heaven, then all the tribes of the land will see the Son of Man coming. The “sign of the Son of Man” is not described in detail, and I see no reason to equate it with the “and they will see the Son of Man coming…” that is described as happening sometime after the sign appears and all the tribes of the land mourns. The rest of your attempts to say that my interpretation is contradictory are just as silly. Upon or in or with a cloud or clouds is quibbling; this is how atheists and skeptics reason when they want to say that the gospels contradict themselves and are not reliable because they do not agree on how many angels were at the empty tomb. There’s multiple ways to describe the same or similar visual phenomena. If this is what you think “same” must mean you might as well claim that the Lord Jesus’ literal coming is refuted because you could not imagine Him returning in the same literal, physical Acts 1:9 cloud and anything less would be a contradiction. Revelation 1:7 says that “He comes with the clouds” and then “and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the land will mourn over Him”; it doesn’t say when exactly and how it all will play out. The tribes of the land in both Matt 24:30 and Rev. 1:7 could refer to the unbelieving Jews in Israel; “every eye” could mean everyone living who will see Him once He has come and the ingathering of the nations (cf. Matt. 25:33-46) takes place. One does not need to speculate as to how it would all exactly play out to maintain without contradiction that He will come literally and bodily.

            1. If the only statement the kids ever heard about the dad’s return were the mother saying “Your dad’s coming back in the same way you see him going” (in the car out of the driveway), then perhaps you might have a point. But if the kids had previously been told by Dad himself that “My return will be like lightening flashing from one end of the sky to the other” and “I will be coming on the clouds of heaven” and “My coming will not occur with signs to be observed” then the kids might have gotten the idea that they shouldn’t take Mom’s words too literally. Surely they had caught on to the notion that their dad was coming back in something more impressive than a station wagon.

              1. Right, the point of the illustration was only to show that your criticism that “same” must mean that all the physical details–even the things not being mentioned as “same”–must occur in exactly the same way or else it’s a contradiction, is absurd. That’s not how language works. If it were the case, communication when comparing like events would be impossible, for no two events are exactly alike in all respects with regards time, space, and circumstances, and only a single event can be absolutely identical to itself.

                If I say that an event will happen “in the same way” as another event did and I mention some aspects of the first event in which it will be the same, I don’t mean that everything about the two events must be exactly the same (or else I’m speaking contradictions that could only be taken figuratively), just in the aspects I specified. If the Lord Jesus is described as coming again “in the same way” as He was beheld going into heaven, and He was beheld ascending visually and bodily from the mount of Olives into the cloud unto heaven, and He will return from heaven upon/with the clouds to the mount of Olives, only the shared similarities are being compared, not every detail.

                Now, let’s say that the kids in the illustration were also told the metaphorical things. Which would they conclude? That the metaphorical overrides the plain literal, physical descriptions, or that both the literal and metaphorical are true? Let’s look at the extra statements you provided.

                —-
                My return will be like lightening flashing from one end of the sky to the other
                —-
                Cars are described as moving like lightning all the time; it doesn’t mean that there is therefore no visible car literally and physically in motion.

                In the case of the Lord Jesus, He was literally born of a virgin and walked upon the earth, and this was called the sun from on high shining upon those in darkness. He worked many actual miracles with spiritual significances in His human living. His crucifixion was accompanied by earthquakes, deep darkness and tombs opening. He literally and physically resurrected from the dead. He ascended bodily and visibly before the disciples’ eyes and angels visited them and told them He would come again in the same was as they beheld Him go. Thus, it would be no surprise if supernatural events or figurative descriptions for them were to be associated with His literal coming.


                “I will be coming on the clouds of heaven”
                —-
                In the Lord Jesus’ case this matches how He was described going into the cloud (in the sky) unto heaven. In the illustration this would correspond to some like thing common to the going and returning, like the dad returning in the same way he was beheld going in a car via the street.

                Of course the normal, average dad in the illustration wouldn’t come upon the clouds, and there would be no likely reason to describe his return as such. If he did literally and physically disappear into a cloud in the sky unto heaven, and was described as coming in the same way, that would be a different story. The illustration I gave is meant only an illustration for how language works if something is said to happen in the same way as something else, not an allegory with a one-to-one correspondence with the Lord’s coming.
                —-
                “My coming will not occur with signs to be observed”
                —-
                The Lord Jesus didn’t say, “My coming will not occur with signs to be observed.” He said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; / Nor will they say, Behold, here it is! or, There! For behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you” (Luke 17:20-21). He was emphasizing that the kingdom was already in their midst for He was (physically) standing before them, not commenting on whether His second coming would be bodily or non-bodily. The reality of the kingdom itself was invisible, even though it was right there in their midst as Jesus physically stood before them; the same would be true even in His second coming. A similar idea is expressed when the Lord Jesus said, “But if I, by the Spirit of God, cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matt. 12:28). People could see that a blind and dumb man possessed by a demon was healed by the Lord; that was the kingdom already come upon them, though they couldn’t physically see all the invisible spiritual realities taking place. Accordingly, no one can (spiritually) see and enter into the reality of the kingdom unless they are born of God (John 3), but that doesn’t exclude there being physical events associated with the kingdom. The Pharisees in Luke 17 wanted outward power or glory for Israel, but the Lord’s point was that the kingdom was already in their midst and they were missing Him, even though He was right there physically in front of them.

                1. Your obsession with physical things causes you to view all promises regarding the Second Coming through that lens. By this same logic, the Sanhedrin figured that Jesus could not possibly be the Davidic messiah promised by God (that is, the glory would all be revealed out of their sight and thus they couldn’t appreciate it as important).

                  By the way, given your interpretation of Luke 17:20-21 what is going to make unbelievers think Jesus is the real deal the second time around? That is, are you saying it’s all the extra lightning and thunder and other physical stuff that will finally convince people?

                  1. 1) It’s not an obsession with physical things, but a straightforward reading of Scripture, rooted on the scriptural promises that all of creation–the things in heaven and on earth, things invisible and visible–will ultimately be redeemed. It’s your dualistic obsession that precludes you from accepting a visible, bodily appearing of the Lord and resurrection of the dead as revealed in Scripture. I accept spiritual realities that are spiritual–such as the Father, Son, Spirit indwelling the believers who comprise the mystical Body of Christ, or the New Jerusalem not being a literal, physical city but the glorified bride of Christ (Rev. 21:2, 9-11)–and in most cases I would be emphasizing them when speaking to other Christians, and to them I might appear obsessed with spiritual things.

                    2) Jesus suddenly coming in great power and glory will convince the unbelievers that He is the “real deal,” but this is different than saying that all will “see” and enter into the reality of the kingdom.

                    1. 1) The difference between is not that one believes in a full redemption of creation and the other believes in a partial, for we both believe in a full redemption of creation. The difference lies in the means and order by which this full redemption is accomplished.

                      2) So God finally gets what he wants from them (i.e. belief) and He then turns them over to eternal conscious torment?

                    2. 1) Once these statements of yours are unpacked, why is it inherently fleshly or interpretatively precluded to believe upon the Scriptures that the Lord Jesus will return as the Son of Man with a glorified human body and that the resurrection of the dead will be visible and continuous with our earthly bodies, as Jesus’ resurrection was?

                      2) “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe and shudder” (James 2:19). The tempter and the demons also knew that Jesus was the Son of God, “the real deal,” but they opposed and rebelled against Him. According to passages like Romans 1:19-21 and Revelation 6:16 people already have a sense of God being “the real deal” through creation and the human conscience and yet many hold down this knowledge. Genuine faith that makes us organically one with God in Christ and able to participate in the reality of His kingdom isn’t “belief” in that sense.

  5. 1) Most obviously because the time frame given for the occurrence of the event is long past. Thus there is either some other explanation for what was meant or else Jesus and the apostles prophesied falsely and must be rejected.

    2) Jesus granted the request of demons to enter a herd of pigs, and He wouldn’t have mercy on human beings facing eternal conscious torment?

    1. 1) There’s a lot that can be said about this, but I believe that expressions like “near,” “soon,” and “quickly” refers to certainty and imminency (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/imminent), rather than chronological or calendar time, if we’re talking about prophetic eschatology. For instance, Isaiah ch. 13, written around 700 B.C., says while predicting the fall of Babylon to the Medes that “Her time is about to come, And her days will not be prolonged.” (Isa. 13:22) but this did not take place until 539 B.C. at the earliest. That it took some time chronologically doesn’t make it a false prophecy.

      2) Well, I don’t think we know enough to answer this question or even if it depicts what would be the actual situation. Will Satan and the evil angels beg for mercy? Is the lake of fire locked from the outside or inside? Why don’t all people turn to God and repent and ask for mercy in the midst of suffering now if they’ve been given enough evidence in creation and conscience that He exists?

  6. 1) I don’t think we have enough certainty about dating for your inference from Isaiah 13. As for your definition of “imminent,” did you even read it? “Imminent” speaks to chronology. If someone tells you a terrorist attack is imminent do you think they mean it could happen at some indeterminate time in the future – even two thousand years or more from now? The boy who cried wolf wasn’t making a general statement about the dangers associated with wolves; he was saying that the coming of one was imminent.

    2) Your answer, sad to say, sounds heartless.

    1. 1) Imminent means “ready to take place; especially : hanging threateningly over one’s head,” hence, impending, especially if we’re speaking about a change in age, times, and seasons in the poetic language of the Bible. Thus, if Isaiah predicted the fall of Babylon in Isaiah 13 and it happened 150+ later, that prophesy would have loomed like a dark cloud over Babylon, ready to be fulfilled at any moment. Similarly, Habakkuk 2:3-4 speaks of a vision hastening towards its appointed time, in one sense tarrying even as it does not delay, and if the Septuagint was not distorting the word of God when interprets this passage as having a Messianic fulfillment (“For the vision is yet for the appointed time, And it hastens toward the end and will not lie. Though he tarries, wait for him; For he will surely come; he will not delay”) then this prophesy was speaking of an impeding fulfillment that would surely come and was ready to come to pass at any moment, even though Habakkuk was written centuries before the Septuagint translation and the Septuagint translation was done centuries before the Messiah came.

      2) I’m simply saying that we don’t know enough about the situation to be able to answer this kind of a question in the way who framed it–what the lake of fire is, if anyone being or not being there is simply a matter of God’s mercy or not having mercy. Suspending judgment on whether God is or is not merciful in a certain situation is not heartlessness. In Matthew 25 the Lord Jesus says to the goats, “Go away from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” and “And these shall go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” In 2 Thes. 1:8-9 the apostle Paul says, “Rendering vengeance to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. /They will pay the penalty of eternal destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His strength.” To atheists, skeptics, and other detractors, that God would apparently “inflict” such things upon people for any length of time is heartless, but they and we are not in a position to judge.

  7. 1) Habakkuk was quoted as applying to Jesus’ Second Coming in Hebrews, a letter which begins “…in these last days…” You can’t say this phrase refers to that time and this time as well without stripping the phrase of its meaning.

    2) “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.”

    1. 1) Yes we can. For one thing, single prophesies can have dual a fulfillment (e.g. 2 Sam. 7:12-14 fulfilled by both Solomon and Christ), and the words of one prophesy can be appropriated to refer to new events.

      2) Is God withholding mercy from people in Matt. 25 or 2 Thes. 1:8-9? Would anyone ask God that they would “Go away into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels,” “go away into eternal punishment,” “pay the penalty of eternal destruction,” or have vengeance rendered upon them?

    1. 1) How specifically? As I mentioned, the prophet says in Hebrew poetic language that in one sense the fulfillment does tarry (delay in some translations) and yet will not delay, and yet it is no lie and will surely come to pass.
      2) So God is not withholding mercy in Matt. 25 or 2 Thes. 1:8-9, even though no one would ask to be sent away into an eternal fire or eternal punishment or pay the penalty of eternal destruction?

    1. 1) If the prophetic word applies to two or more stages of fulfillment (an initial and later fulfillment), the words would still apply also to the complete fulfillment to come later. Accordingly, the vast majority of preterists still believe that the Lord’s second coming and bodily resurrection of the dead is yet to take place, even if they believe that the much of the Olivet discourse was fulfilled in the first century.

      2) Could you answer the question? Is God withholding mercy from people in those passages, even though we could scarcely imagine that people would ask for such sentences?

  8. 1) Yes, but the clock on the ultimate fulfillment of time-sensitive prophecy would not start until the ultimate fulfillment started. The the initial installment for Habakkuk would have had a beginning and end, and the ultimate fulfillment would have had a separate beginning and end.

    As for preterism, I don’t care about it.

    2) God is pronouncing judgment those passages, but they speak to this life and don’t disallow God showing mercy in the afterlife. The belief in eternal conscious torment (ECT) is the belief that in the afterlife God will never ever show mercy to some people. It’s against His nature.

    All evil and all punishment is temporal. God is eternally kind.

    1. 1) Not if the translators of the Septuagint were right to translate this passage as having a Messianic fulfillment. The same if Isaiah prophesied the fall of Babylon (“Her time is about to come, And her days will not be prolonged”) 150+ years before it happened.

      2) So in those passages is not withholding mercy, but only carrying out judgment, even though nobody would ask for these penalties and yet the Lord granted the request of demons to enter a herd of pigs?

      And the “eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels,” the “eternal punishment,” the “penalty of eternal destruction,” the sentence carried out at the judgment seat of Christ, is only in and for this life? How does this differ from what people suffered and experienced for millennia prior to the Lord’s first and second coming? Didn’t the Lord carry out various judgments in this life before His second coming? And concerning the judgment for the next life doesn’t Hebrews say, “And inasmuch as it is reserved for men to die once, and after this comes judgment” (9:27)?

  9. 1) Messianic fulfillment does not preclude there having been an initial fulfillment in Habakkuk’s generation. LXX translators would naturally have been more concerned about messianic fulfillment than Habakkuk’s initial initial foreshadowing.

    2) Judgment through Christ is more exacting than prior judgments for it deals with even the secrets of the heart (Romans 2:14-16). Concerning the judgment to come when a person’s life ends, it will be exceeding fine and will determine our placement in heaven (it was on this basis that Jesus went to the head of the class – the right hand of the throne of God). It will not be a crude pass-fail mechanism that lets some into heaven and consigns the rest to a merciless eternity of conscious torment.

    1. 1) But if LXX translators applied that word to the Messiah’s coming, then the poetic “delays but does not delay” does not demand a chronologically short fulfillment for the Messiah’s coming even though the same words had been applied to that ultimate fulfillment as well. The same if Isaiah 13 was ultimately fulfilled 150+ years after it was written. Accordingly, the vast majority of those who insist on a literal understanding of “generation” and “quickly” see the events of first century as an initial fulfillment of the necessary signs or the Lord’s visitation but not the ultimate fulfillment associated with the Lord’s second coming, the bodily resurrection of the dead, the ingathering of the nations, etc.

      2) Matt. 25 is fairly binomial–eternal fire/punishment or eternal life–and Revelation 20:12-15 places such a judgment after the resurrection of the dead, including those who died beforehand and not in their lifetimes. Notably, those who are not found in the book of life are “cast into the lake of fire” after the sea and Hades gives up its dead and death and Hades are cast into the lake of fire (vv. 14-15).

  10. 1) Ah, “the vast majority” appears again. I would never know by your arguments that you are someone who claims to believe truth is not something determined by majority vote.

    2) God pronounced a “binomial” judgment on Adam and Eve for eating the forbidden truth yet it did not preclude Him from crafting a merciful solution for them. LIkewise for those receiving judgment in the New Testament.

    1. 1) I’m not arguing from majority (i.e, that majority is always or usually right) but pointing out a commonly-recognized train of thought. I don’t insist upon a literal understanding of “generation” and “quickly” like those I was describing, but rather I was pointing out that within that group most have considered that–like many other prophecies–those signs concerning the Lord’s coming and the kingdom can have an initial fulfillment even if all the events associated with the end have even now yet to take place. If many people recognize a certain train of thought, it doesn’t automatically make it bad. You do a similar thing when you appeal to “common knowledge” of words or have to deal with persons who come onto your blog and say that you do not worship the true God because of their idiosyncratic opinions about translations or etymologies of the names and titles of God.

      2) And? You claimed the judgment between “eternal punishment” versus “eternal life” is only for this life and that judgment after death is for determining a gradation of rewards in “heaven,” but I gave counterexamples to this from Scripture.

    1. 1) Agreed, Mike, but you have no special ability to know what God thinks over and above all others who have the Scripture and the Holy Spirit, as if the Holy Spirit functions in you and not in others concerning precisely the matters in which anyone might disagree with you, or as if your spirituality or faithfulness as to know God’s mind is more trustworthy than anyone who might disagree with you. Just as it is fair to survey people to see how they use language, it is fair to survey other believers who have the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit to learn from their perspectives and prayerfully come to one’s own convictions. The Holy Spirit is no individual creature’s exclusive terrain.

      2) How is that relevant to my point that Revelation describes a binomial judgment (lake of fire if not written in the book of life) after the resurrection of all the previously dead in the sea and in Hades and after Hades is cast into the lake of fire, and not a scale of rewards for heaven?

  11. 1) Of course none of us owns the Holy Spirit. But if He shows me something, I can’t deny it just because you can find more people who agree with you than you can find who agree with me.

    You say you don’t believe that majority vote determines the truth, but according to your logic here you do seem to think it settles a tie. That is, when two people disagree about what the Holy Spirit is saying, then you think it becomes a matter of surveying people and see how they line up.

    2) If you’re wrong about when these prophecies were fulfilled, how can you know you’re right about what they describe?

    1. 1) How do you know that the Holy Spirit has shown you something and not others, if you contradict the views of persons who very may well be more spiritual and faithful than you, or if your scriptural reasoning for your views is flimsy or improbable? For instance, did the Holy Spirit really reveal to you that your reasoning about what the word “inheritance” must mean when applied to the things of God is as sound as the apostles’ teaching, even though Christ and the apostles reveal the God and the Father existing at the same time as the Son and the believers as the many sons and heirs of God? This is why you are the only person to both your and my awareness that has arrived at your system, for your system is built on so many unlikely speculations that people who have the Scriptures and the Spirit do not hold, especially in combination.

      2) Assuming for sake of argument that you were absolutely about everything in Revelation being totally fulfilled, how would this help your claim that the lake of fire is only for this life, and judgment after death is only for placement in heaven? The passage I mentioned has dead persons previously in the sea and Hades being yielded up and then cast into the lake of fire after death and Hades are cast into the lake of fire.

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