Angels and Death

What happens when someone dies? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In Final Fantasy X, when a person dies and doesn’t want to go to the realm of the dead, they interact with beings called pyreflies and become fiends. This is a common motif in many Japanese stories involving those who don’t want to go on and become a whole new creature. Many Christians might look at that and think that that is a creative story, but too many will believe something similar.

I say this because recently, my mother’s brother passed away. Today, there is to be a graveside service and many times, I can anticipate really bad thinking going on among people at Christian services about what happens when people die. One of the common beliefs is that people become angels.

This is not to say that the dead don’t remain in service to God in some way. There are many people who have NDEs who claim that they have encountered loved ones on the other side who have kept them from passing a boundary that would put them in eternity forever and saying it is not their time. I have no problem with such a thing happening.

However, when people die, they still remain being people. Humans are a species of a type that are meant to be embodied, although I think Scripture and NDEs both show that there is reality outside of the body. We are creatures that are naturally at home within the body.

Angels are beings that were created most likely at the start of creation and they are not meant to be embodied beings. They can assume a body if need be, though there is no evidence of demons doing so, but that is not how they naturally exist. Angels are by nature immaterial.

When a person dies, they do not become anything else. They remain fully human. It’s worth noting this is what happens with Jesus as well. Jesus to this day remains fully human as well as fully God.

Whenever we are in eternity, there will always be a distinction between humans and angels. Meanwhile with unbelievers, unbelievers do not become demons when they die. There will always be a distinction between unbelievers and demons.

Also, let’s dispense with ideas that are damaging to those left behind. Sometimes people say God needed another angel, which is especially damaging to children who lose a parent. After all, “Why did God have to take my Mommy like that?”

In the same way, people do not die because God needs them in His service in eternity. Why people die is part of the problem of evil and another question altogether that won’t be addressed here, but for now, I am focused on something else. While the question needs a good answer, let’s make sure at least we don’t give it a bad answer.

People have enough to grieve with when a loved one dies. We might want to say something comforting to those left behind, but let’s not say something that’s false and in the long run, won’t comfort, especially as I said, when children are concerned. Also, for those in apologetics, this is also not a time to discuss the problem of evil. Save it for when someone is not in the midst of the pain.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)
Support my Patreon here.

Reading Revelation

What’s the most important part of Revelation? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Many readers of this blog know about my fondness for debating eschatology. That includes the book of Revelation. I have also gone to a Bible study not so much from the Preterist view, which I hold, at an Orthodox Church Allie was attending for awhile. Not only that, but once we did a study through the book of Revelation like the one I am recommending on this blog.

Just last night I finished going verse by verse through Romans and I figured I would start going through Revelation. It would be interesting to go through it that way and I remembered the study I did years ago. That has taught me the most important lesson in reading Revelation.

Do not focus on end times when reading Revelation.

Now that seems shocking to people. Really? Isn’t that the purpose of the book? Well, that is certainly a purpose. We are to be shown what must soon take place. Now I will happily debate with dispensationalists and others on the interpretation of soon and I will debate with premillennialists and others I disagree with on the millennium, but there should be something that we all agree on and that something is the real focus on the book of Revelation.

That is to look and see what the book says about Jesus. The book begins as being described as the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Whatever your view on eschatology, you are supposed to see what you can find about Jesus.

In the book, Rediscovering Jesus, the authors imagine what would happen if we only knew what we know about Jesus through the book of Revelation. There would certainly be no gentle Jesus, meek and mild. This is a terrifying Jesus. This is a Jesus that is angry and He’s not going to take it anymore.

Fortunately, we do have more on Jesus in the Bible and when we study the book this way, we can consider so many odd messages. Think about the rulers of the Earth who went to be hidden from the wrath of the Lamb. What? How many of you have ever been terrified of a lamb?

If you have your eschatology timeline all filled out right and you have wrong who Jesus is, it will count for you for nothing. Make sure you get Jesus right. Try going through Jesus and don’t ask questions about eschatology, or at least primarily about eschatology. Ask about Jesus.

This book has a lot to say about Him.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)
Support my Patreon here.

Book Plunge: Why The End Is Not Near

What do I think of Duane Garner’s book published by Athanasius Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This book is a part of series of answers in an hour. The book is short enough that if you have the question about the end times of if the end is near, this book is meant to answer that. Of course, one could say we don’t know when the end is so it could be near, but I’m inclined to think we still have time since there are still unevangelized parts of the world.

Thankfully, Garner does hold to the future resurrection of the dead, but most of this is meant to deal with premillennial dispensationalism. Readers of my work know that eschatology is a favorite topic of mine and I speak as a former holder of the view of premillennial dispensationalism. Garner sums up well in his book reasons for my own change in position.

The position that he is responding to is quite likely the most prominent one in the church today, which is odd since it has virtually no presence in the early church. Even those who try to point to a few isolated passages would have to say those are the exception and not the rule. This is not the case with premillennialism itself. While I do not hold to that position, it was a prevalent one in the early church.

Garner asks how it was that the modern interpretation came about. There are some that trace it to a minister who held to some heretical positions named Edward Irving or the visions of a Scottish girl named Margaret MacDonald. It was largely popularized by John Darby and then further pushed by Scofield’s Bible.

Garner will point out various hermeneutical problems that I have with the rapture view. One main one is how do you divide the comings of Jesus? We are to talk about the second coming but the rapture is Jesus coming for His church, yet somehow it is not a coming, and then the second coming is seven years later. I’d add in also that Jesus says the resurrection will be on the last day and Paul says at the last trumpet, but if you read Revelation with the rapture viewpoint in mind, then there are 1,007 years at least after the last day and seven more trumpets after the last trumpet.

The far better way is to read passages like the Olivet Discourse like you would Isaiah 13. Isaiah 13 sounds like a doom and gloom future passage about what’s coming up. However, it is a prophecy against Babylon. Some would try to push this into the future with a future Babylon (Think New Babylon from the Left Behind series), but the reading of it as referring to Isaiah’s near future works just fine.

While I hold a great love for my brothers and sisters who hold to the idea of the rapture, I do hope that will start changing soon. End times madness is incredibly shaping in the church and those from the Preterist viewpoint, like myself, often have our orthodoxy questioned immediately as if we’re denying the Trinity. I look forward to the day when the church is caught up in understanding many more aspects of the faith than just prophecy.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth.)
Donate to my Patreon here.

Please Stop Buying Books On Prophecy

Are we hurting the church? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I was going to do a book plunge today, but other events showed up in my own personal life and I had to talk about those. Yesterday at church, I hear some of the ladies in the row behind me talking about a book with such an excitement. Would that it was N.T. Wright or Mike Licona or Edward Feser or William Lane Craig or someone like that. Nope. It was the Harbinger.

I’m a member of Nextdoor, an online chat site where you chat with others in your community. Someone posted Jeremiah 29:11 for a new year and as we know, posting something from the Bible never stirs up controversy. In the thread, someone else recommends the Harbinger saying it is very prophetic.

Now I have reviewed the book here and definitely recommend David James’s excellent response to it here. (For those interested, James comes from the dispensationalist perspective and still has a problem with the book.) It’s an awful book and not only is it bad theology, it’s bad writing period. The Da Vinci Code was a load of nonsense, but at least it had an interesting story to it. The reporter in The Harbinger makes the staff at the Daily Planet look like Einsteins.

I don’t know if someone has happened recently to get people talking about this book again, but they are.

So what I want to say again to people is PLEASE STOP BUYING BOOKS ON PROPHECY! I would really love to see a day come when doctrines like the resurrection or the Trinity or the virgin birth (Which I do affirm) are taken as seriously as prophecy. Would that one day churchgoers would have discussion before church about various theories of the atonement instead of trying to figure out who the antichrist is.

The reality is, we’ve all been through it before. How many people were taking people like Hal Lindsey and Edgar Whisenant super seriously? How many people gave up all they had for Harold Camping? How many people bought into the Four Blood Moons material? How much of that material has lasted?

We rightly would hold a pastor accountable if they had a major moral failing, such as having an affair. Should we not do the same thing if they have a failing such as trying to claim God says X in prophecy and it doesn’t happen? This is why James 3:1 tells us few will should be teachers because they will be held to a greater accountability.

Honestly, being a prophecy expert would be a great position to have in Christianity. You are an expert just because you say you are and you write books and hold seminars that everyone takes seriously. Within your own lifetime often, you are shown to be wrong, but you wait a few years and publish another book with another interpretation and you’re still held to be an expert.

How many books are gathering dust in the back of Christian bookshelves for claiming XYZ is the antichrist and that person is dead now? There have been people who have claimed Trump was the antichrist. Some people claimed Obama was. No doubt, some people will claim Biden is or that Kamala Harris is. As the hype spreads, the rest of the world looks on and thinks we’re nuts.

They already think that. We don’t need to give them more ammunition.

Not only that, but we miss the real messages of Scripture. We become focused on ourselves and think that Jesus is coming for us because, well, we’re just such a special generation. The fact that Jesus is going to return someday should give us joy, but it should also give us some degree of terror and urgency. What are we doing to spread the message? What kind of lives are we living?

I don’t know how many times I have to answer atheists who insist that Jesus said He would return soon and they use all the same texts to argue it. They insist, like everywhere else, on a hyper-fundamentalism that not even the most fundamentalist Christian I know of would accept. As I started Bart Ehrman’s book on Jesus as an apocalyptic prophet, I made a prediction that he would never once mention Orthodox Preterism in his book. I wish I had made a public bet beforehand because my prediction was entirely accurate.

Folks. There are other doctrines in Christianity besides prophecy and considering how many people with a dispensationalist hermeneutic have got the interpretations wrong, you first off have to wonder why you should take this next guy doing it seriously. I would like you to go a step further. Why should you take the hermeneutic and even the mindset behind it seriously?

I’m not saying you have to jump immediately into the Orthodox Preterist camp, but please at least consider abandoning a bad prophecy hermeneutic today.

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

Why Are They Not Fasting?

Should the disciples stay in joy? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

After the events described in Matthew 9 concerning the calling of Matthew, Jesus is asked why He and His disciples don’t fast. This is not really a hostile question seeing as it comes from the disciples of John the Baptist. It’s a valid question to ask. Shouldn’t good Jewish boys be observing the fast?

Jesus’s answer is highly eschatological. How is it that His disciples can enter a time of fasting normally attributed to mourning and sorrow when the bridegroom is there with them? Wedding language is normally used in the Old Testament to describe the relationship of God and His people and the same happens in the New to describe Jesus and the church.

When the wedding is going on, there is to be joy and celebration. You don’t fast, but instead you feast. Jesus is saying that with His coming, the time of the marriage is at hand. The people are all there to celebrate.

This was typical for weddings in the time of Jesus. They would normally last a long time in the sense of the celebrations. The people gathered would celebrate the marrying of the couple and then the consummation of their marriage. To get an idea of that, just imagine spending your honeymoon with all your family right there and knowing what happened on the wedding night and celebrating that openly.

But Jesus does say there will be a time of mourning later. Here, He hints that His visit is just that, a visit, and He will not be there forever. We have no indication in the text that His disciples asked Him about this. We know a number of times they wondered about what He said without asking Him.

For now though, the celebration was on. Jesus was with His people, and not just His disciples but Israel. What is the good news about Jesus’s coming? That will be discussed more in the life of Christ as we continue later on.

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

The Calling of Matthew

Why does Jesus hang out with tax collectors? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve been a gameshow junkie. I sadly think gameshows are going to pass away with the advent of streaming, but I can still talk on and on about mainly older gameshows. As a teenager, I got a wish to come true when Gameshow Network went on the air. I was curious when I started seeing older ones from the 50’s and 60’s like What’s My Line?

In this game, a panel got to ask a contestant yes or no questions. Every no gave the contestant $5 for a maximum of $50 if he stumped the panel and they were told no ten times. The question every time was to guess what the person’s job was.

Normally, this would be met with applause, but I remember one time specifically where the applause had some boos thrown in. The panel noticed it too which led to the conclusion this must not be a well-liked job. What was it? IRS tax agent.

No one likes taxes. They and death are the two great inevitables in the world. If you rank right up there with death, you have to be pretty unpopular. Jews are no exception to this and the past is no exception. Jews of the past particularly hated tax collectors. They not only took the money, but they were seen as betraying their people by aligning with Rome and normally, they would also line their pockets with a little bit extra.

So when Jesus calls Matthew, it’s a shock to everyone, and no doubt Matthew as well. Keep in mind also that Jesus’s entourage also included at least one zealot so that must have been fun to have someone who was extremely pro-Israel and anti-Rome and someone seen as a collaborator in the same group.

Jesus is asked about this, and understandably so, though prostitutes are also included the mix. Jesus points out that it is the sick who need to see a doctor. He has come to call the sinners and not the righteous. Let’s look at that point of Jesus saying “I have come.”

First, there are shades of pre-existence here. It’s not a slam dunk by any means, but there is evidence of it here. If that is what is going on, this certainly is a high Christology going on and coming from the lips of Jesus Himself.

However, Jesus certainly has a view of Himself as a man on a mission. He is here for a specific reason. He has come to call the sinners. He also doesn’t speak of fellow sinners. He never indicates any need on His part. It is also as if He can provide righteousness.

With anyone else also, we would get concerned. Imagine if you heard your pastor had had a meal with several prostitutes, and this not even at a restaurant but at someone’s house. “Sure pastor. I’m sure that’s all you had. Say. What was served for dessert?”

Similar could have been said of Jesus. This was the scandal that the man Jesus was and still is. Yet we look at Jesus as not only hanging out with prostitutes, but leading a celibate lifestyle. It’s worth pointing out that when Jesus walked this Earth, he freely forsook one of the greatest joys He had created.

We’re not wrong in being suspicious of a pastor doing this necessarily. I know there are some guys who can actually do ministry in places like strip clubs. More power to them. I don’t want to risk it. However, even as I say that, some of you might be thinking that you’re sure they’re doing “ministry.”

Yet when God comes before us, who does He go to? Not the best of the best, but the lowest of the low. He goes to the ones who are cast out and the ones who see themselves as hopeless. We are told elsewhere that prostitutes and tax collectors are entering the Kingdom due to repentance. Prostitutes certainly don’t stay prostitutes, but Jesus has a heart for these women who are trapped in the sexual trade either willingly or unwillingly.

Jesus was a scandal then.

He still is today.

And we’re meant to show His love today, even to those tax collectors and prostitutes.

Maybe it would be better to pray for that What’s My Line contestant instead of booing.

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

Forgiving the Paralytic

What does it mean when Jesus heals the paralytic? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In Matthew 9, Jesus goes into a building to teach and a paralytic is lowered down to him. Jesus tells the man his sins are forgiven. When the Pharisees have indignant thoughts at this, Jesus calls them out on it and then shows who He is by telling the paralytic to take up his mat and walk, which he does.

This is more than just healing. We’ve all heard several messages about how Jesus could forgive and that shows that He is the one who thinks He has been sinned against. This is true, but I want to point out something else meant by the forgiveness.

Normally, if you needed forgiveness, you would need to go to the priest and make the proper offering. This would be centered around the temple. Jesus cuts out the middlemen entirely. Jesus plays the role of a priest and He plays the role of the temple.

Orthodox Preterists like myself stress the meaning of the temple being destroyed in 70 A.D. It was no longer needed. It was a sign of the old covenant and when that covenant was done, the temple that represented it had to go.

When Jesus heals the paralytic, He is not just showing that paralyzed people will not be in the Kingdom seeing as they will be healed and moving about, but He is also demonstrating more. His healing of the body backs His authority to proclaim healing of the soul. He is showing to His audience that there is no need of priests or the temple to obtain forgiveness. All that is needed is Jesus.

Why do we not have priests like that anymore? Because Jesus is our high priest. Why do we not have a temple anymore? Because Jesus is our temple. Jesus comes and shows the covenant system is fulfilled in Him. The new has come and there is no need for the old.

For a Jew, this is completely radical, and it should be for us as well. We need to really recognize what a major shift Jesus caused in the world politically and theologically when He came. The temple was seen as the emblem of Judaism. Now as Jesus says later on, one greater than the temple is here.

One greater than the temple is still here. Our true high priest and temple has already come.

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

Jesus and the Pigs

What do pigs have to do with eschatology? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Jesus reaches His destination and is approached by two demon-possessed men. They beg Jesus not to judge them before the appointed time. Obviously, it’s the demons speaking at this point, but let’s notice what they say.

The appointed time.

What is that? It’s a time where the demons know that they will be judged. It’s a set day. This is not a secret idea. The only secret is when it’s going to be. When Jesus shows up on the scene, the demons fear that that time has come, but yet something tells them that this is not the time.

Now a lot of skeptics like to look at this chapter and think about how awful Jesus was to those pigs or how awful he was to the townspeople for depriving them of bacon. We’re not really going to tackle those today. We’re looking at Jesus and the demons.

It’s quite interesting that demons actually take theology much more seriously than we do. The Pharisees and priests weren’t scared to nail Jesus onto a cross. They didn’t know who He was to be sure, but His presence was one they thought they could dispose of. The demons, on the other hand, are terrified of Him.

We see this in James also. James says “You believe in one God? Good. So do the demons, and they tremble.” Most of us don’t tremble before God. I know the demons love to see us mouthing off to God, but I wonder if they see us do that sometimes and think “They are sure making things worse for themselves.” They have a better idea of who we’re messing with.

This should also show us that our idea of gentle Jesus meek and mild is not always accurate. These guys know Jesus is a judge. Jesus can lay down the hurt as it were. They are scared to death of Jesus. You never see a demon in the Gospels try to challenge Jesus at all. Jesus is calling the shots.

Note also Jesus never used formulas or anything close to what is called magic in doing this. Jesus doesn’t need to use artifacts of any kind to get a demon to go. He just has to say the word. Jesus is remarkable in this. This is why in other accounts the people are amazed at what Jesus can do and the Pharisees have to explain it away somehow.

What we see though is temporary. Judgment day is coming for the demons and it is coming for all of us. The demons are scared of what will happen to them on that day. Let’s make sure we’re not on the same side of them. As we’ll see later, Jesus says you are either for Him or against Him.

Choose wisely.

Preferably against the demons.

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

Jesus Calms The Storm

What does Jesus’s power over the weather tell us about who He is?

As we move through Matthew, let’s keep in mind why we’re looking at who Jesus is in relation to eschatology. It’s because if Jesus is the King who is coming, that has immediate ramifications for eschatology. If Jesus is God incarnate, it means something about who He is and what was and is going on in His work. There are real implications.

In Matthew 8, Jesus is asleep in a boat while the disciples panic over a storm. First off, I find it amazing that Jesus is so calm in all of this that He just simply sleeps right through it. Jesus is confident enough in His disciples that He trusts them to handle the sea. Too bad these men, many experienced with the sea, don’t have such trust in Jesus.

Note that the disciples are in a panic, but there is no sense of urgency or panic on the part of Jesus. Some of you might think that if such a violent storm is going on at sea, isn’t it natural to panic? Perhaps, but if these people are to believe who Jesus is, they have to believe He came for a mission and God is going to let Him do that mission. He is in charge of the story even if it seems to be going off-script.

Jesus is in charge throughout this whole course of events. He is so much in charge that He can issue a command to nature itself. The disciples could have thought of Psalm 107:29 or Psalm 65:7 which talk about God calming the storms immediately. This leads to the question of who is Jesus.

Which is what is fascinating about Jesus. Still 2,000 years later, we are debating who He was and is. (And no silly mythicists, we are not debating if He even existed because that debate never even started anyway) It could be tempting for some to deny a miracle story like this because miracles never happen, but that needs to be shown first or have an argument given for beyond Hume’s question-begging one.

If Jesus is who He said He was, then that has huge ramifications indeed. Many of us like to go to our favorite verses, but really one of the most powerful arguments is the overall life of Christ. It’s not a shock that high Christology came right out of the gates.

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

Why How A Leper Is Healed Matters

What difference does it make how Jesus healed a leper? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Our look at the Sermon on the Mount was meant to not just teach us good ethics, but good eschatology. Jesus is telling us how people in the Kingdom are supposed to live. Now continuing our look at eschatology, we will keep going through Matthew and see what we can see in there.

One truth that will hopefully come out for you is that eschatology and Christology are closely intertwined. Finding out about the Kingdom coming and already present shows you a lot about who Jesus is. If you have a heretical eschatology, you will also have a heretical Christology.

So Jesus comes down the mountain and there’s a leper wanting to be healed and Jesus agrees to heal Him. Now we know that Jesus could have healed by the saying of a word. He does this with the ten lepers in Luke. However, in this case, Jesus does something amazing. He touches the leper.

What makes this incredible is that leprosy was unclean and if someone touched a leper or if a leper touched someone, that someone would be unclean. If they touched an object, that object would be unclean. The leper spread uncleanliness wherever he went.

However, when Jesus touches the leper, Jesus does the opposite. He takes His cleanliness and passes it on to the leper without receiving the leper’s unclean status. Jesus is still fully clean and now, so is the leper. In doing this. Jesus is acting as a purifier apart from the temple. This is the kind of thing He means when He says one greater than the temple is here.

This is also not just healing of a disease. This is healing of a status. Jesus is allowing the leper to be reintegrated into society. Jesus is telling us that in the Kingdom, there will be no social outcasts because no one will have a reason to be outcast. Leprosy will not be part of the Kingdom. The only ones not in the Kingdom are those who wish to have nothing to do with the King.

Jesus wants these people in the Kingdom and when His kingdom comes, those artificial barriers will be gone. People will be able to enter the Kingdom freely and live in it with King Jesus. Jesus will not be contaminated by uncleanness because He is greater than it is. Jesus is the purifier that undoes uncleanness. The cross and resurrection will eventually show He does the same with sin.

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