Oklahoma Trip Report and its Lessons
Jun 17, 2008
We finally returned home last night after close to two weeks on the road. I thought I would share a few comments and observations that I learned while at the Father's Day Conference in Oklahoma City.
The conference was designed to bring various "streams" of thought together in order to allow people to see the differences and to allow the speakers to present their differing ideas. These teachings will be posted online shortly on www.digitalphotoart.us so I wanted you to understand that no speaker is responsible for anyone else's teaching. The fact that we all appeared at the same conference and shared the same pulpit does not mean we all agree in our teachings.
We found unity only in Christian love, that is to say, on a personal level and in a general way. Beyond that, each had things in common with some, but not with others. It was interesting, because each speaker was a doctrinal irritant to others, like a grain of sand in an oyster shell which is needed to make pearls.
On two afternoons, Friday and Saturday, we held multiple workshops at the same time. These could not be put on video, because we did not have enough video cameras to record all of them at the same time. Some of the workshops were done by teachers who did not have opportunity to speak from the pulpit itself. There were far too many speakers for the number of slots available.
Some taught Preterism, which means "fulfilled." That is, they believe that all Bible prophecy was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Of these, some are "Partial Preterists" and others are "Consistent Preterists," depending on whether or not one believes that absolutely ALL prophecy was fulfilled by 70 A.D. or if there were a few prophecies that were not fulfilled in 70 A.D.
A new branch of Preterist has arisen which calls itself "Comprehensive Grace." By this term, they avoid the Universalist label, while also distinguishing themselves from the other schools of Preterism. I guess I do something similar, since I am a Restorationist, not a Universalist. By this I mean that I believe the earth has a problem that yet needs to be restored by means of divine judgments (disciplines) through the law. Universalists are largely antinomian (lawless) and usually teach that God saves all men without any such discipline.
At the conference I often heard the statement made, "All men are saved; some just don't know it yet." I think that statement is technically true, but the way it is taught usually makes it NOT true. This is because most do not clearly distinguish between the corporate and the personal fulfillment. What Jesus did on the cross was to save all mankind on the historic, corporate level. In the outworking of this on a personal level, which is usually how the Apostles taught, not all men are saved yet. Men are saved at the point when they have faith as a response to hearing the Gospel.
Paul never treats unbelievers as being "saved." He always requires faith. When he says in Eph. 2:8 that "By grace are you saved through faith," he expresses the fact that we are saved by grace, but we do not come into that experience except through the door of faith. We cannot leave out the "faith factor" without doing damage to some people.
When they try to make everyone saved now, regardless of unbelief, they come up with what they call the "gospel of inclusion." I believe that all will be included in the end, and that God has not excluded anyone from the end result; but I do not believe that everyone ought to be included today as if they are already some kind of secret believer--so secret that even THEY don't know it yet.
In my view, this is not taught in the New Testament. The same disciple who wrote in 1 John 2:2, "And He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world," is also the disciple who wrote in John 1:12, "But as many as received Him, TO THEM gave He the authority to become the sons of God."
Paul agreed in Romans 1:16, saying, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation to everyone that believes"--NOT to all men whether they believe or not. The word "believe" is the same word that is translated "faith" elsewhere, except that it is in verb form, rather than a noun. Paul's gospel, when believed, brings salvation individually to people. Of his gospel, he says in 1 Cor. 15:2, "by which also are you saved, IF you keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless you have believed in vain."
Paul said in Acts 16:31, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." He did not tell the man, "Oh, don't you know? You are already saved." All men will indeed be saved, but NOT UNTIL they have faith in Christ. The divine plan guarantees that God will do what it takes to bring all men to the place of having faith, and so He will succeed in this plan. In that sense, all men are saved, but most don't know it yet. But in the outworking of this plan, as Heb. 2:8 says, "we see not yet all things put under Him."
So in my view, we ought to take heed to Acts 2:21, "that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." Not all will do this during their life time on earth. Most will wait until the Great White Throne judgment to call on the name of the Lord, as Paul wrote in Phil. 2:11, when "every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father."
Some at the conference believed that all prophecy was fulfilled at the cross--the "finished work of Christ." They disagreed with the Preterists who said all prophecy was fulfilled by 70 A.D. To me it is obvious that Passover was fulfilled at the cross. The wave-sheaf offering was fulfilled on the third day after the cross. Pentecost took place seven weeks after His resurrection. In my view, it is rather silly to insist that all the feast days were fulfilled at Passover, as if to throw all of them into one basket.
I came away with a few major observations that had been unclear to me up to then. First, most of the Universalists know little or nothing about the Feast of Tabernacles or of Sonship. Thus, their focus is upon Passover, much like Billy Graham, except that they extend salvation to all, rather than just to a few. They focus upon "salvation" in the sense of justification, but many are afraid of the gospel of obedience which is through Pentecost. And they know little or nothing about Tabernacles.
This, I believe, is their greatest weakness. In focusing upon salvation, rather than Sonship, they minimize the importance of coming to maturity through the discipline of the law. In overfocusing upon "salvation," they have fallen into the same trap as the evangelicals, who bring people out of Egypt (through a Passover message), but fail to bring them to Mount Sinai for Pentecost. They are nowhere near the Promised Land (Tabernacles), and yet they convince themselves that they are already there. They have lost the sense of the journey, because they have lumped all the feasts into one basket and made Passover the whole package.
Moses himself was disqualified from the Promised Land for doing this (in type). In Ex. 17:6 He obeyed God by smiting the rock (Christ), but the second time in Num. 20:8, he was to speak to the rock, because it now represented Christ in His second appearance through Tabernacles. He smote the rock again, and men are following that pattern today. They cannot get beyond Passover into Tabernacles. Hence, they have difficulty growing up into full-grown Sons of God. And like Moses, they see, but cannot enter the Promised Land.
Let us be aware of this and learn from Moses' mistake.
Dr. Stephen Jones