Recently, Dr. Samuel Frost, a former teacher of Covenant Eschatology felt the necessity of referring to the concept of the fulfillment of “all things written” (Luke 21:22) having been realized in those events associated with the 70 CE “end of the age” (Matt. 24:3; 28::20) to be a “different gospel” (Gal. 1:6). It was his contention is that “some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ” (Gal. 1:7) necessarily includes those who believe and teach the “hyper-preterist” viewpoint.1 Dr. Frost writes:
In short: 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘯𝘰 𝘎𝘰𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘭 𝘰𝘧 𝘑𝘦𝘴𝘶𝘴 𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘴𝘢𝘷𝘦𝘴 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘢𝘨𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘧𝘶𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘦 𝘌𝘴𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘵𝘰𝘭𝘰𝘨𝘺. 𝘈 𝘎𝘰𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘭 𝘥𝘪𝘷𝘰𝘳𝘤𝘦𝘥 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘧𝘶𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘦 𝘌𝘴𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘵𝘰𝘭𝘰𝘨𝘺 𝘪𝘴 𝘯𝘰 𝘎𝘰𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘭 𝘢𝘵 𝘢𝘭𝘭. 𝘍𝘶𝘭𝘭 𝘗𝘳𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘮, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘯, 𝘪𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘎𝘰𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘭.1
Is it valid for one to conclude that in order for the fulfilled approach to the Bible “end time” (Eschatology) is false simply because God’s “purpose of the ages” (Eph. 3:11) has been realized? In order to answer the objection by Dr. Frost, one must determine precisely how the Bible defines and describes what this ‘gospel” is and what the purpose was for which it was given.
WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?
The word “gospel,” from the Greek εὐαγγέλιον, meaning ‘good news’ or ‘glad tidings’ occurs 77 times in the New Testament. The inspired apostle Paul, in his letter to those believers living in Rome in 57 CE, provides the historical reference to the “gospel” in these words:
“Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” (Rom. 1:1-4)
The ministry and work of the apostle Paul were made possible through his ‘separation’ (αφωρισμενος), having been ‘set apart’ or ‘appointed’ to the very essence of preaching and teaching the ‘good news’ or “gospel” (Acts 9:15; Rom. 11:13; II Tim. 1:11). This “gospel of God” (Rom. 1:1) is the very substance of redemptive history itself, “which He promised before through the prophets in the Holy Scriptures” (Rom. 1:2). From the time of the Genesis creation account forward, the promise of redemption, reconciliation, and restoration was given (Gen. 3:15).
Because of the transgression in the Garden of Eden, humanity inherited the consequences of “the sin” and “the death” as determined by Adam: “because of this, even as through one man the sin did enter into the world, and through the sin, the death; and thus to all men the death did pass through, for that all did sin” (Rom. 5:12 YLT). Because Adam sinned, the sentence of “the death” was passed along to all of humanity, separated from the very presence of God, and driven out of the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:23, 24). Adam is pictured as the “head” of humanity and his ‘sin’ and the consequences of it “death through sin…thus spread to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12). There was no immediate way of deliverance or escape for humanity because the consequences of Adam’s transgression was accounted to “all men because all sinned.” There are two similar viewpoints in this connection, Federalism and Sentimentalism that are outside the scope of this article to discuss.3
According to the apostle Paul, the “gospel of God” had been revealed throughout the Old Testament Scriptures, “concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” Rom. 1:3, 4). The “gospel of God” was to be manifested and realized through the redemptive work and mission of Christ as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8). God’s very “purpose of the ages” (Eph. 3:11) pointed forward to Jesus as the sacrificial “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
The “seed” promise (Gen. 3:15) moved forward in redemptive history, through Abraham and his descendants (seed) that reached the time of consummation at the time when Jesus “the Word was made flesh and tabernacled among us” (John 1:14 AFV, LITV, MKJV, MURDOCK, NENT, YLT). The promise of redemption, reconciliation, and restoration was made possible through Christ, “being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil 2:8). It was God’s provision in the sending of His only-begotten Son, that the consequences of “the death” as determined by Adam could be removed, and “forgiveness of sins” could then be given to those placing their faith in Christ (John 3:16; Rom. 5:17-19). Without the “shedding of blood” (Heb. 9:22), there was no “forgiveness of sin” possible, and thus only Christ released humanity from the effects of “the sin” and thus “the death” of Adam and all of humanity would be set free to serve and to honor God and to have cleansing and forgiveness of their personal sins and transgressions. The apostle Peter writes:
knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (I Pet. 1:18-21).
There was nothing associated with the “corruptible things” of the Old Covenant or passed along as “tradition” from the fathers of Israel that could redeem, reconcile, and restore believers from all of humanity apart from, “the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot” (I Pet. 1:19). It was the very “promises made to the fathers” (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) (Rom. 15:8), that revealed the “gospel of Christ” (Rom. 1:16). It was God that “preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you, all the nations shall be blessed.” (Gal. 3:8). Jesus, as the pre-incarnate “Word” (John 1:1, 14) “was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (I Pet. 1:20). Notice that the apostle Peter, speaking to the first century “remnant, according to the election of grace” (Rom. 11:5) that God’s provision of salvation “was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was made manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God” (I Pet. 1:20, 21). These believers had witnessed the manifestation of the “gospel of God” in these “last times” of those who were living during the “last days” (Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:16-21) between the Cross and the “end of the age” (Matt. 24:3; 28:20) in 70 CE!
Did the manifestation of the “gospel of God” through Christ and the “death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8) somehow negate the reality of what God had promised, prophesied, and fulfilled through the redemptive work of God? Did the Cross lose its meaning simply based on the fact that it was past history rather than something to which to look forward? The fulfillment of Bible prophecy and the realization of “all things written” (Luke 21:22) removes nothing from the “gospel of God” “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (I Cor. 1:18). It must have seemed like “foolishness” in the minds of the people to be told of what God had done through the “death of the cross” (Phil 2:8).
The “gospel” or “message of the cross” “is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” (Rom. 1:16, 17). In the “gospel of Christ” had been revealed the “righteousness of God”–His covenant faithfulness in fulfilling the promises He had made would come to pass at the exact time, manner, and purpose for which they were intended!
THE GOSPEL OF RESURRECTION
The message of the ‘good news’ or “gospel of God” was through the “death of the cross” was declared and demonstrated by the victorious resurrection of Christ “from the dead” (Rom. 1:4). The very “hope of Israel” (Acts 28:20; Eph. 2:12) pointed forward to the fact that even though they had crucified the “Prince of Life” that God had raised Him from the dead (Acts 3:16; 4:10; 13:30, 34; Rom. 4:24). The “power” of the “gospel of Christ” is rooted in the fact that Christ now forever lives because of His resurrection and thus believers now live because of His resurrection (Rom. 6:4, 9). Salvation through the gospel comes, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation. ” (Rom. 10:9, 10).
The apostle Paul, in his discussion of the resurrection of the dead, reveals the interconnectedness of relationship that adheres to the necessity of the resurrection of Christ:
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures… Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished (I Cor. 15:1-4, 13-18).
This “gospel of God” is centered around the very fact “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (I Cor. 15:3, 4)–the very Scriptures to which Paul had alluded in Rom. 1:1-4. God’s “purpose of the ages” (Eph. 3:11) was about the progressive movement of redemptive history in order to fulfill what had been promised and prophesied beforehand. The apostle Paul was here preaching fulfillment of what God had promised and it in no way detracted from the “power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ were fulfilled, past events in time that stood as the foundation and basis for all that God had done and was in the process of doing in those “last times” (I Pet. 1:20). In fact, the apostle Peter had written:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls” (I Pet. 1:3-9)
These believers had a “living hope” of their own resurrection “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (I Pet. 1:3). Second, these believers had an “inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away reserved in heaven” (I Pet. 1:4). These believers were being “kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (I Pet. 1:5). They were standing at the very precipice of the realization of all that God had promised because it was then being revealed in the “last time” (I Pet. 15) as Peter said, “these last times for you” (his readers) (I Pet. 1:20). All that God had promised “before the foundation of the world” was being realized in the approaching “end of the age” in 70 CE (Matt. 24:3). Peter continues:
“having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because “ALL FLESH IS AS GRASS, AND ALL THE GLORY OF MAN AS THE FLOWER OF THE GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERS, AND ITS FLOWER FALLS AWAY, BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you” (I Pet. 1:23-25).
Although the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ were past events nothing was taken away from the essence of the “gospel of God” except for the expectation of these first-century believers to actually receive the realization of all that God had promised. The “gospel of God” is the “everlasting gospel” (Rev. 14:6), of the “everlasting covenant” (Heb. 13:20), over the “everlasting kingdom” (Psa. 145:13; II Pet. 1:11) over “everlasting life” (John 17:17) in the everlasting Presence of God!
In his brief article, Dr. Frost wants to plant his charge of those who believe and teach fulfillment as being guilty of a “different gospel” (Gal. 1:6), he decides to invoke the words of the apostle Paul in Romans 2:
But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “WILL RENDER TO EACH ONE ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS”:
eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath” (Rom. 2:5-8)
Being the “expert” and “esteemed” scholar that he claims to be, it is curious that Dr. Frost somehow completely ignores the very context of what Paul states in this section of his letter. There is virtual agreement within scholarship that Romans 1:18-32 is directed toward the Gentile audience, as the Jewish readers of his audience would happily agree and applaud. But then, in Romans chapter 2, Paul toward his attention toward those very Jewish believers whose thoughts, words, and actions were no better than that of the Gentiles previously mentioned (Rom. 2:1-29). The conclusion drawn by the inspired apostle is that “all have sinned” (Jew and Gentile alike) (Rom. 3:23) and thus both are destitute without the benefits of the “gospel of Christ” (Rom. 1:16). His reference in 2:5-8 was directed toward Israel who had already been warned of the impending judgment of God upon the nation (Matt. 3:7-12; 23:32-39; chapter 24, Mark 13; Luke 21) during “this generation” (Matt. 23:36; 24:34). On the day of Pentecost, following the resurrection and ascension of Christ Peter warned his listeners to “Save yourselves from this perverse generation” (Acts 2:40 Darby).
Jesus already had told “some standing here” (Matt. 16:28), that “For the Son of man is about to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he will render to each according to his doings” (Matt. 16:27 Darby), there very words later written by the apostle Paul to Israel about their own approaching time of retribution and judgment for their sinful course of action (Rom. 2:5-8). There is nothing in Romans 2 that relegates the message of fulfillment into the trash heap of a “different gospel” (Gal. 1:6) or of preaching “another Jesus” (II Cor. 11:4). True fulfillment is established on the person and work of “this same Jesus” (Acts 1:11) and the realization of the “promises made to the fathers” (Rom. 15:8).
The problematic nature of acceptance of the “gospel of God” as having been completed is the unrealistic, antibiblical expectations and explanations of those who insist that the true gospel must depend upon “future eschatology.” Their sense of focus is on the nature of Christ’s resurrection body in eternity, despite the fact the Bible says nothing about his nature post-resurrection and following His ascension. Likewise, the utter foolishness of arguing about the resurrection “body” of believers. The same discussions and arguments were ongoing within the church at Corinth and the apostle Paul calls this “foolishness” (I Cor. 15:35, 36). What was the shape and nature of Christ in His pre-incarnate, eternal existence as “the Word” (John 1:1)? Nobody speculates because they understand the Bible is silent about the matter. What was God doing before the time of creation? Nobody raises the question because they understand the Bible is silent about the subject.
Scholars and theologians, including Dr. Frost and others, have wasted their time and energy “whittling on God’s end of the stick” probing questions about which the Bible is simply silent. Perhaps they will continue to speculate on why Nicodemus came to Jesus “at night” (John 3:2; 7:50; 19:39) instead of some other time of the day, although the Bible is silent as to the question of why. My faith allows me to simply trust that the “secret things belong to God” (Deut 29:29) and not to speculate as to the shape and appearance of Jesus in eternity, what our “spiritual bodies” are like following physical death, or any other question about which “orthodoxy” takes upon themselves the desire to investigate, and to judge others with whom they disagree.
The “gospel of God” (Rom. 1:1-14) is revealed as the “gospel of Christ” (Rom. 1:16), as the “message of the Cross” (I Cor. 1:18), and remains valid although God has accomplished His “purpose of the ages” (Eph. 3:11). It is the message of “reconciliation” (Rom. 5:11, 18, 19). It is the message of manifestation of the “restoration of all things” (Acts 3:18-26). Believers living today have “every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Eph. 1:3), and has made His children, through “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature…” (II Pet. 1:3, 4). God has given His people, “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Eph. 3:20). “EYE HAS NOT SEEN, NOR EAR HEARD, NOR HAVE ENTERED INTO THE HEART OF MAN THE THINGS WHICH GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.” (I Cor. 2:9). Knowing God and being in covenant with Christ staggers the limitations of the human imagination.
The “futurist eschatology” will remain a disappointment for those wishing, hoping, and looking for some form of fulfillment separate and apart from that which has been clearly revealed within the pages of God;’s inspired Word. I continue to pray for Dr. Frost and those of his persuasion who know in the very innermost parts of their being that only the fulfilled message and presentation of the “gospel” leads humanity into the reality that God has already prepared for us to live and to enjoy each and every day. The gospel of fulfillment is the one and only gospel–from Genesis to Revelation.
- https://www.facebook.com/sam.frost.311/posts/pfbid0GBJxQZ3A7RfPNMDe1XHhQW7VK6gTbjhXmjmxo7jBxvXekzh8FLn1RGoUqgbqkVBWl (December 10, 2022)