Pre – AD 70 saints: what motivated them to live holy and endure all things faithfully? It was their expectations, worldview, and afterlife hope. It was not just eschatology which moved them toward sanctification. There were a lot of factors, most of which still apply to all Christians of all generations:
A. Gospel proclamation reasons (great commission) good testimony – adorn the gospel.
B. Kingdom-building reasons (worthy to inherit the Kingdom) (some uniqueness to the first century saints here, but it still applies to our Kingdom expansion efforts after AD 70).
1. They had a great reward to receive, inherit, experience, and enter into at the Parousia.
2. But the Apostles had an even greater reward awaiting them (special provision) in view of their greater sacrifices and suffering for the establishment of the Kingdom.
C. Persecution reasons (godly discipline was required to fortify them to endure persecution)
D. Hardship imposed by the changing of the World Order (Present Distress).
E. Eschatological reasons: (once for all, never to be repeated, no longer applicable).
1. Fear of punishment, judgment, and wrath and the desire to escape it.
2. Hope for seeing Christ at His return and gaining the heavenly reward.
They wanted to be found worthy at the End, having accomplished the great commission and established the Kingdom while suffering great tribulation and hardship, and were expecting to experience the great reward that was promised.
What Kind of Reward Were They Expecting and Hoping For?
After hearing Jesus say that they were going to suffer the loss of all things, be heavily persecuted, and perhaps even killed during the coming generation, Peter and the other disciples asked Jesus what they would they get at the End after accomplishing the great commission under such extreme tribulation?
Matt. 19:27 Then Peter said to [Jesus], “Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?”
Matt. 19:28 And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Matt. 19:29 “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.
Luke 22:28-30 “You are those who have stood by Me in My trials; and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
Those disciples needed a powerful reward to motivate them to endure that kind of hardship. And Jesus promised it to them. If they had even suspected that this reward would not be seen, heard, or experienced in any cognitive way, they would have backed away from Jesus. They would never have signed on to the great commission if they doubted whether there would be a significant reward at the End.
Here are some more of their expectations:
|What Did Jesus Promise? What Did They Expect?
|1Pet 1:4-9, 13; 2Thess 1:4-11; Rom 8:17-23; 2Pet 3:11-15; 2John 1:8; 2Tim 4:6-8; Matt 19:28-29; 1Pet 5:4, 6, 10; 1Thess 1:10; 2Pet 2:9; Heb 10:35; Rev 3:10; 11:18; Luke 21:28; 21:34-36
|They were promised relief, rescue, escape, reward, glory, exaltation, crowns, thrones, be revealed as sons of God, adoption, salvation, grace, redemption, and inheritance at the return of Christ.
|Did they get these things? Did they KNOW they got it?
|2Thess 1:10; 1 John 2:28 – 3:2; 1Thess 2:19; 2Cor 4:14; Luke 21:36; Col 3:4; Jude 24; Col 1:22; 1Pet 4:13; 5:1-4; Rom 8:18-25; 1Thess 4:17; 2Pet 3:12-18; 1Cor 13:12; Phil 2:16; 1Pet 1:7-13; 2:12; Matt 16:28 (Mk 9:1); 1Jn 4:17; Matt 25:1, 6-10, 21, 23; Matt 19:28-29; Luke 13:25-30; Luke 22:28-30;
|They would actually know about His return, and see Him revealed, and not shrink away from Him, but draw near to meet with Him, glorify Him, marvel at Him, stand before Him, and have great joy in His Presence at His return. They would eat and drink with Him at His table in the Kingdom in heaven.
|Did they experience these things at the Parousia? These were life-changing events. Life would never be the same afterwards. How could they experience all of this and keep quiet about it afterwards, especially when post-70 writers started saying the Parousia was still future?
|1Cor 15:51-54; 2Cor 5:1-4; Phil 3:21; 1Jn 3:2; Rom 8:17-23; 1Thess 5:23;
|The mortal bodies of the living and remaining saints would be changed, or transformed, to be like Christ’s glorious body.
|What was this bodily change, transformation, putting on immortality, and redemption of their mortal bodies?
|1Thess 4:15-17; John 14:1-3; 2Thess 2:1; Matt 24:31;
|Caught up and reunited with their departed loved ones, received to Him; gathered by the angels.
|What was this gathering by the angels, the catching up, and being received to be with Jesus where He was?
• Jesus recognized their need for a clear and empowering experiential hope. He knew they would never accomplish the great commission, suffer all that persecution, and remain faithful to the End without some very high expectations of a huge reward. It does not do justice to Jesus, nor to their expectations, to suggest that they lived through those events without experiencing that reward, nor even being aware that the Parousia, Resurrection, and Judgment had taken place.
• They knew what was supposed to happen. Jesus and the apostles had given them plenty of signs to look for, so that they would not miss it. They “fixed their hope completely on it” (1 Pet. 1:13) and “longed for His return” and “waited anxiously, eagerly, and expectantly for it” (Rom. 8:19)?
• Those expectations were one of the things that motivated their godly lifestyle. If their expectations were fulfilled, they would have been glorifying God with great exultation (shouting from the rooftops and dancing in the streets). But if they were not fulfilled, they would have been disillusioned and complaining about it. Either way, fulfillment or not, they would have been saying something about it. Anything but silent. Yet, silence is all we have. Why? Because at the Parousia of the Lord in AD 66 the remaining living saints were all changed in the twinkling of an eye into the unseen realm where Jesus was and caught up together with the believing souls being resurrected out of Hades/Sheol to meet the Lord in the unseen realm in the aer to forever be with Him in the heavenly realm.
• Are Christians of every age supposed to emulate the example of those pre-70 saints? The answer is YES, especially if we find ourselves under that same kind of persecution and tribulation that they had to deal with.
• But because of the unique way in which they were to receive their rewards (resurrection, bodily change, and rapture), they had even more motivation to walk worthy than we do. The greater the reward, the greater the motivation to live worthily of receiving it.
• And even though those pre-70 saints received their rewards in a different way than we do, it is still the same kind of immortal body afterlife hope that we get. They received that hope at the Parousia, whereas we receive it when we die. But it is the same afterlife hope nevertheless.
• And that motivates us to live that same kind of worthy lifestyle, knowing that we have the same hope of eternal life in heaven in our new immortal bodies. Those who fail to live worthily will not receive that kind of glorious afterlife.
• This is a worthy hope that can firmly anchor our souls here in this life, and motivate us to live worthily of that far better afterlife that is waiting for us in heaven after we die.
Apostle John explained the motivating power of hope when he said, “Everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1John 3:3).
And apostle Paul took it further when he exhorted us to “Pursue after sanctification, without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14).
• That is what walking worthy is all about: purifying and sanctifying ourselves! If we have the same hope that they did, it will motivate us to walk worthy of such a great salvation.
How to Live “NOW” Post AD 70 Worthily in the Eternal Kingdom:
Most (if not all) of the parables and discourses of Jesus are talking about what life would be like in the Kingdom when it arrived.
Since the Eternal Kingdom has arrived, and we are living in the earth life visible realm of it, all of that teaching about life in the Kingdom fully applies to us now. Preterists do not deny that Jesus’ Kingdom teaching applies during the transition period. But its applicability does not stop there. The Kingdom did not fully arrive until AD 70 when Jesus put down the rest of His enemies, especially in His defeat of Death (condemnation under sin to eternal separation from God in the Lake of Fire) by the Resurrection of the Dead (1 Cor. 15:23-28) (Those departed souls who were separated from God waiting in the Hadean/Sheol realm for Christ to defeat the power of death which kept them separated from their God (Heb. 2:14-15)). So, if these teachings applied to the transitionary stage of the Kingdom, then they will apply in an even greater and fuller sense once the Kingdom fully arrived in AD 70.
Everything that Jesus and the apostles taught about how the saints were supposed to live in the Eternal Kingdom after it fully arrived applies directly to us now. All of those moral and ethical and spiritual principles that they taught to the saints during the transition phase of the Kingdom now apply to us in the eternal phase of that Kingdom.
Apostle Paul refused to bind anything on the Gentiles that was destined to pass away at AD 70. Therefore, anything he taught to the Gentiles (unless clearly predicted to cease at the Parousia) was intended for the Eternal Kingdom after the Parousia.
What Goes and What Stays?
Some Principles That Help Us Decide What Goes and What Stays:
- Anything mentioned by Jesus and the apostles as being a part of the coming Kingdom (Sermon on Mount & Parables). What will life in the Kingdom be like? Much (if not all) of Jesus’ Kingdom teaching was focused on defining what life in the Kingdom would be like, and what was required of anyone to be allowed to enter it and dwell in it when it arrived.
The beatitudes (Matthew 5) and the virtues that are characteristic of life in the Kingdom after the Kingdom arrives. The beatitudes define the character of those who are Kingdom dwellers. They stand in stark contrast to the life of the Jews under the Law. Notice the contrast between “you have heard” versus “but I say to you.”
All of the parables were about the Kingdom (“the Kingdom may be compared to”). All the apostles gave a lot of teaching about what life was supposed to be like in the Kingdom, and what the nature of the Kingdom would be. And they got this straight out of the OT prophets and Moses himself who constantly emphasized the spiritual nature of our relationship with God.
- Anything given to the Gentiles by Christ and the Apostles (and by Paul especially) has to be considered applicable AFTER AD 70, unless it is specifically said to cease at the Parousia, or “restricted” to the transition period, such as the gifts of prophecy and tongues which included speaking and writing by inspiration (1 Cor. 13:8-10).
Since Paul said that those gifts and callings of God are irrevocable (Rom. 11:29), how could those gifts cease being practiced at AD 70 if the people who had those irrevocable gifts were still alive on earth after the Perfect arrived? The cessation of the practice of those gifts at the Parousia (when the Perfect arrived) implies that all of the folks who had those irrevocable gifts must have been taken to heaven where those gifts were no longer needed, because of the better things that they now had in heaven (“knowing fully” and “seeing Him face to face” – 1 Cor. 13:12).
Those gifts ceased being practiced by those irrevocably gifted saints simply because those saints were no longer on earth to practice them. However, the gifts were not revoked, but simply replaced by the better things of “knowing fully” and “seeing face to face.”
- Apostle Paul was the champion of Gentile liberty, so anything given by him to the Gentiles can be considered eternal, since he would not allow the Gentiles to be brought into bondage to anything that was destined to pass away at AD 70.
And anything which the apostles forbid to the Gentiles must be considered things that would not be included in the Kingdom when it arrived.
In fact, Paul says they would be under a curse (and severed from Christ) if they tried to bind upon the Gentiles anything that was destined to pass away at AD 70 (cf. Galatians and Romans).
What passed away, changed, or continued after the Transition Period?
- The Physical Types and Shadows of the Old Testament were fulfilled and converted to their spiritual realities in Christ.
- The Church passed from its building phase into the finished Temple.
- The Bride was espoused (engaged) during Transition Period, with the marriage supper at AD 70. Jesus did not abandon His bride after the rapture and AD 70 marriage in the heavenly realm. They live happily ever after raising up a godly family. We are the spiritual children of that marriage made in heaven.
- The Church (both invisible in heaven and visible on earth) is here to stay (Eph. 3:21).
The New Creation breaking into the old creation –> NC Kingdom living post AD 70:
The Purpose, the Goal:
- Rom. 8:29, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
How –> A New Creation:
- 2 Cor. 5:16-17, “Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature (or creation in the NKJV); the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (NASB)
- Gal. 6:15, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.”
What is our life to be about à how are we to live:
- Rom. 13:11-13, “…let us walk properly, as in the day…”
- Rom. 14:16-17, “…for the kingdom of God is not “eating and drinking,” but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
- Not like the Old Covenant rules and regulations (do and don’t).
- Gal. 5:19-23, “Now the works (fruit) of the flesh…those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit…”
- Eph. 4:17-24, “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind…that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt…be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”
- Eph. 2:19-22, “Now, therefore, you (Gentiles) are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you are also being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”
- Growing spiritual temple.
- 1 Cor. 6:9-20, “…the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God…and such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified…your bodies are members of Christ…your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you…”
- Each member affects the whole corporate body.
- Rom. 6:12-19, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body…do not present your member as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourself to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God…for just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness…now ‘present’ your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.”
- Rom. 12:1-2, 5, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by all the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service (worship). And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good an acceptable and perfect will of God…so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.”
- Col. 3:1-10, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above…set your mind on things above…for you died…therefore put to death your members which are on the earth…in which you yourselves once walked…put off…since you have put off the old man with his deeds…put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.”
- 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1, “…you (it is plural = we) are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them…’ Therefore…do not touch what is unclean…let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and the spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
- Phil. 1:6-11, “…being filled with the fruits of righteousness…”
- Isa. 32:1, 6-8, 16-19, “Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule in justice…for the foolish person will speak foolishness, and his heart will work iniquity; to practice ungodliness, to utter error against the Lord…also the schemes of the schemer are evil; he devises wicked plans to destroy the poor with lying words…but a generous man devises generous things, and by generosity he shall stand…then justice will dwell in the wilderness…the work of righteousness will be peace, and the effort of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever. “My people” will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places, “though hail comes down” on the forest, and the city is brought low in humiliation.”
- John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
Worldview Which Empowers Us to Walk Worthy:
Isaiah 9:6-7, “of the increase of his government there will be no end.” This verse states that it is going to go on increasing without ever coming to an end. It is talking about an ever expanding Kingdom. Isaiah 9:6-7 says that it never stops growing; he says it continues to increase without an end.
Humanity continues in the physical universe to spread its dominion throughout the infinite universe forever, while an “ever increasing” number of Christians keep coming into heaven throughout all generations of eternity to come. No end, forever increasing.
Ezekiel 47 – talks about a little trickle of water coming out from the temple that was built in the last days, and as it goes a thousand cubits it gets deeper and wider until after four thousand cubits it becomes a river overflowing its banks filling the whole world.
Some futurists think it will only continue to grow until it reaches perfection here on earth. But Ezekiel 47 shows that it never reaches perfection here on the earth. There will always be some stagnant backwaters where the River of Living Water does not reach. Perfection is only found in heaven.
Nevertheless, things will continue to improve here on earth, as we see it described here in Ezekiel 47, and just like we have seen over the past two thousand years. Ezekiel 47 paints a picture of the growth of the Kingdom as it continues to increase throughout eternity.
That Little Trickle of Living Water becomes a mighty river which purifies the nations, and heals the nations. Revelation 21 and 22 picks up on that theme and carries it further. It talks about all the nations bringing their glory into this new Kingdom and walking by its light (walking worthy) and being healed by the leaves of the Tree of Life on the banks of the River of life.
Those two texts (Ezek. 47 and Rev. 21 – 22) talk about that continual ongoing growth of the Kingdom, and the overwhelming of every culture on the globe by its spiritual principles, its eternally long-term optimistic worldview, and its godly lifestyle. The way Christianity changed Western Civilization and America is a good example of what it will do in every culture eventually. It may take another 2,000 years, but it’s happening, it’s already begun. And it is unstoppable.
However, we need to remember that history goes in cycles – two steps forward, one step back, and then two more steps forward again. We may be in one of those periods when we are forced to take one step backward, but before we know it Christianity will leap two steps forward again. There’s no way Islam and Hinduism and Buddhism can ever stop the advance of the gospel in their culture. It’s already working like leaven in an unstoppable way. They hate it, they resist it, and they kill Christians, but they cannot stop the eternal growth of the Kingdom.
The gospel will prevail. Christ said He would build His church and the gates of Hades would not be able to overcome it, overpower it, or stop it. If Satan could not stop it, then there’s no nation on this earth that can stop it either. That Kingdom has come, and it will continue growing and spreading throughout all of eternity. Therefore, walk worthy of it:
- “Rise up O men of God! Have done with lesser things. Give heart and mind and soul and strength to serve the King of Kings!”
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