Journey to Preterism — Where is the Church Pushback

Is there a distinction between tribulation saints and the church? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A friend of Deeper Waters left a message on our Facebook page about my post on where is the church? In this, I argued that the word church not being in Revelation does not indicate the absence of the church. This commenter left a reason why he thinks the tribulation saints aren’t the church.

For me the strongest argument for the church being a different group than the saints in Trib, is that Rev states that when Satan is cast out of heaven and sent down to earth to possess that false prophet/antiChrist it says “And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”
5 And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. 6 It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Re 13:4–8.
This seems to contradict Jesus’ statement that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the church, that all authority has been given to the church and Satan has NO authority over the church.
It seems to me that Satan cannot be on earth at the same time as the church if Satan is given authority on earth. So this likely is a different group of saints.
This argument depends a lot on timing. For one thing, the objection here seems to assume that all of Revelation is future. I come from an opposite approach. Look at Revelation 12 where the dragon does appear. What do you see going on? A dragon about to devout a child that will rule the nations with a rod of iron. Biblically, the only conclusion I can reach is that this is the birth of Jesus.
I don’t see any reason to think that this event will happen again, so I take this to be a description of the birth of Christ. When that takes place, the dragon tries to devour the child, namely through the slaughter of the infants. What about Satan being on Earth though?
In Luke, Jesus says He saw Satan cast down from Heaven. (Luke 10:18) This was during His ministry. Is Satan however active while the Kingdom of God is active?
The answer from Scripture has to be yes. In Matthew 12, Jesus casts out a demon and the Pharisees tell the crowd that it is by Beelzebul that Jesus does that. Jesus says that if He casts out demons by the finger of God then the Kingdom of God is among you.
Did you catch it?
Jesus is on Earth and yet He is fighting against the devil. Jesus declares the Kingdom is right there, but so is the Kingdom of the devil. In Matthew 13 next, we are told that the Kingdom grows like a mustard seed or like yeast through dough. This means that the Kingdom of God will keep growing and if it is doing that, it has to be breaking into another kingdom pushing it out.
Any guesses which that is?
By the way, there’s no indication that the Kingdom of God will be removed from Earth and then started over during a tribulation period somehow. God is building up His army and there’s no reason to think that He’s going to remove it en masse at any time. Also, for those who say the Holy Spirit can’t be on Earth during the tribulation, kind of difficult for an omnipresent being to not be, you know, present.
I contend then that if the Kingdom of God is removed, that would be God giving authority again to the devil which would really be a case of a violation of Matthew 16 and the gates of Hell passage.
From my viewpoint, it’s straight through historical. The dragon falls and then not too much later, here comes Nero, who I think is the Beast, on the scene. When we get to the harlot later on in Revelation, who is that? Some of you might be surprised when I say that that harlot is Israel.
Does that sound anti-semitic?
If so, then the Old Testament must be a very anti-semitic book since it regularly depicts Israel as a harlot. This again makes the historical sense of what happened. For a time, the Jews could work with Rome to persecute the Christians, but then the Romans turned on the Jews as well and sought to kill them. That culminated in the fall of Jerusalem which is compared to Babylon in the book.
I wanted to answer this objection because I do try to take objections to my view seriously. I did give a little bit of commentary on Revelation as well. I won’t do this for every objection I get, but I wanted to address this one as it seemed more well thought-out.
In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Is the Antichrist the Beast, The Man of Sin, etc.?

Does the antichrist fit the profile of all these people? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Sometimes when I argue with dispensationalists, I notice a theme of the antichrist and his identity. It is said that the antichrist is the beast and he’s the man of lawlessness or sin in 2 Thess. and he’s the prince who will come in Daniel 9 and most any other figure you can think of that seems to have an evil description in the text. Every single time, I ask them to demonstrate this claim.

Usually, it’s demonstrated just by listing the Scriptures about each of these people, but it’s important to note that nowhere does the book of Revelation say the Beast is the antichrist. Nowhere does Paul say the man of sin is the antichrist. These are assumptions that are brought to the text.

Now does the Bible talk about the antichrist? Yes it does, and it’s interesting that this only shows up in the epistles of John. This is in 1 John and 2 John only. You can easily look up the references on a site like Bible Gateway. They’re very short. Let’s look now.

1 John 2:18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.

1 John 2:22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.

1 John 4:3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.

2 John 7
For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.

This really isn’t a lot to go on to make a whole doctrine of the antichrist, but yet dispensationalists keep asserting that this figure is the same as all these other figures. Now I am not saying that that absolutely isn’t the case, but I am saying that that case hasn’t been made.

If you are a dispensationalist and you are making this case, then it is up to you to demonstrate it. It is not enough to assert it. It is not enough to assume that there is one great evil figure coming in the future. That would be just begging the question on your end. You need to demonstrate it.

So for dispensationalist friends and readers, that ball is in your court. Can you demonstrate your case? If not, then keep in mind your case could still be right, but it could also be wrong and what that could mean for your system.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

What the Bible says about the Antichrist

What does Scripture say about this figure? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My wife and I have been reading 1 John at night lately. She’s a futurist, though not one who believes in a rapture, and I’m an orthodox Preterist. We don’t really debate it at all. If she comes to Preterism, I want it to be because she studied the Scripture and not because I pressured her. Anyway, reading the Johannine epistles leads to talk about the antichrist at times.

So what do the epistles say about this figure?

Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 1 John 2:18

Something to note is that it says antichrist is coming and not THE antichrist is coming. That might seem like a small distinction, but it is still something. There is no speaking of one figure in all of this as the antichrist. In fact, many have come and because they are here, we know it is the last hour. John says this twice. He doesn’t want you to miss it. The last hour is here now because many antichrists have come.

Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 1 John 2:22

At this point, we do have the antichrist, but what does it say about the antichrist? The antichrist is he who denies the Father and the Son. In other words, anyone who denies Jesus is the Christ is the antichrist. This fits in with what Jesus said. You are either for Him or against Him. You are either pro-Christ or antichrist. There is no middle ground.

and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 1 John 4:3

And now antichrist is referred to as a spirit. The antichrist spirit is the spirit that does not confess that Jesus is from God. Note also that once again, this is in the world already. That which is opposed to Christ is already lined up in opposition against Him.

For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. 2 John 1:7

And here we have more of the same. Anyone who denies that Jesus Christ came in the flesh is the antichrist and deceiver. This would be the way to see the Gnostic and docetic heresies of the time that denied the bodily incarnation of Jesus.

But I know some already have objections.

What about the beast in the book of Revelation?! What about the Man of Lawlessness in 2 Thessalonians 2? What about Daniel 9:24-27? What about the abomination that causes desolation?

Good questions. Here’s why we don’t look at those.

Nowhere are these figures described as “The antichrist.” Now they could possibly be a figure known as the antichrist, but someone who thinks that needs to show it. You don’t just jump over to 2 Thess. 2 and assume this is the same figure talked about in the Johannine epistles. If you think it is, then you need to demonstrate that.

Ultimately, something that bothers me so much about people caught up in end times paranoia is that they spend so much time focusing on the antichrist that they seem to lose sight of Christ. Too many are so busy trying to figure out who the antichrist is that they don’t take the time to think about who Jesus is. What the Bible says about who Jesus is blows out of the water anything said about who the antichrist is. Which one should our focus be?

Which one is your focus?

In Christ,
Nick Peters