I can almost hear the question from so long ago, “Where’s the beef?” This inquiry came from a Wendy’s advertising campaign emphasizing that their burgers had more meat than other fast-food chains.
There’s a similar question that many of us are asking based upon our recent experience of attending churches, “Where is the hope?”
If there’s anything people need today, it’s hope. We are immersed in a culture of violence, deceit, and death. In the U.S., mass shootings have become commonplace. The horrors of Hamas’ massacre shocked those not drawn into the demonic lies spread by the Palestinians. Anti-Semitic rants have become commonplace on our streets and on many college campuses, causing many to fear for their lives.
There’s also a deepening awareness that the COVID injections kill rather than protect. According to a Rasmussen poll taken at the end of October 2023, 24% of Americans say they know someone who has died because of these shots, and 42% said they would join a lawsuit if they were able to do so.
Instead of offering desperately needed hope at such a time as this, we hear wonderful sermons that far too often end without a peep about the promise of eternal life, even when the pastor presents the Gospel. It’s as if Jesus died so we could have our best life now. Hmmm…
The bedrock of our faith is Jesus’ resurrection, of course, and it’s frequently proclaimed with boldness. What’s almost non-existent in many cases is the hope this truth guarantees, that of our receipt of a glorified body at the time of Jesus’ appearing. In 1 Corinthians 15:17-19, Paul tells us that apart from these truths, our “faith is futile,” and we remain in our “sins.” Not only that, “we are of all people most to be pitied.” Take away the future bodily resurrection of the saints, and as the KJV puts it, “we are of all men most miserable.”
It’s not just the silence that concerns me but the growing popularity of a teaching that denies the receipt of immortal bodies for New Testament saints.
Of course, not all Preterists deny what the Bible says about our future bodily resurrection. Some of its adherents, such as RC Sproul, place the fulfillment of 1 Corinthians 15:47-55 somewhere in the future despite teaching that the Second Coming happened in AD 70.
However, many Preterists do equate Jesus’ promise of an immortal body with the regeneration of believers, and that’s a huge problem.
Do they not know that Paul addressed this exact error in his last epistle?
Abandoning the Truth
In 2 Timothy 2:16-18, the apostle addresses the errant teaching of Hymenaeus and Philetus:
“But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.”
Dr. Edmond Hiebert, Bible Scholar and author of several Bible commentaries, described their false teaching this way:
The doctrinal error of Hymenaeus and Philetus, destructively spreading like gangrene, was their denial of an eschatological resurrection. They allegorized the resurrection by insisting it was a past spiritual experience, having occurred when they were raised from ignorance and sin as they came to know the true God.
Just like many Preterists today, Hymenaeus and Philetus told fellow believers that their “resurrection has already happened.” They equated Jesus’ gift to us of immortal bodies, which Paul described in 1 Corinthians 15:50-55, with what happens at the moment of our regeneration. This, as the apostle tells us, is an abandoning of God’s truth.
I have both read and heard Preterists claim that the event Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 15:50-55 happens at the moment of our salvation. I am always shocked by it.
An Infection Like Gangrene
Is this a serious error? Absolutely!
The apostle refers to this teaching as spreading “like gangrene” (ESV). The word in the Greek is literally gaggraina from which we get our English word “gangrene.” The errant teaching is like an infectious sore in the body of Christ; it causes much damage. Such is the tragic result of denying the future bodily resurrection of the saints.
Paul states that such teaching has already overthrown the faith of some (2 Timothy 2:18). Hymenaeus and Philetus must have possessed some influence over other believers as their teaching had already harmed fellow believers.
Today’s Preterists have the same undermining impact on the faith of others just as the denial of a future resurrection had in Ephesus during the first century AD. This happens because today’s popular teaching:
- Dishonors Jesus by placing His future glorious return to the earth in AD 70, which is twenty-five years before John wrote the book of Revelation, magnifying His Name.
- Contradicts the words of Scripture by teaching that all believers will die (1 Corinthians 15:51 and 1 Thessalonians 4:17).
- Focuses all the attention of the saints on this life.
- Engenders pride as its proponents claim a special insight into biblical prophecies by placing all of them in the past.
- Robs believers of the joyful expectation of meeting Jesus in the air.
The common theme in all these things is that of dishonoring Jesus.
The Absolute Certainty of Our Future Bodily Resurrection
1 Corinthians 15 is totally about how Jesus’ certain bodily resurrection guarantees our receipt of an incorruptible body at Jesus’ appearing. Totally! To change verses 47-54 into something that happens in our past goes against all sound principles of biblical interpretation. Furthermore, it’s precisely the error of Hymenaeus and Philetus, which Paul compared to “gangrene” in the body of Christ.
Philippians 3:20-21 is another passage where Paul proclaims the truth that whether we are alive or dead at the time of the Rapture, Jesus will give us a glorious body like that of His resurrected one:
“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”
The words of Scripture guarantee that someday all those in Christ will receive immortal bodies at the time of His appearing. If these things are not true, then the Bible is mistaken, and we are still in our sins.
With such a glorious message to proclaim, why are pastors so silent? Why do people leave their churches asking, “Where is the hope?”
People walk into our places of worship painfully aware of the culture of death in which they live and breathe. Those paying attention to what’s happening in the Middle East know that the world lies on the brink of a devastating and deadly world war. They hear talk of deadly terror attacks that will kill many thousands in America and across the free world.
As a result of the fear that hangs over people today, they need to hear about the hope that comes from understanding and believing Bible prophecy.
Those outside of Christ need to hear that the Bible predicted that the world would look like this in the end times. Messages that explain both Jesus’ offer of forgiveness and what that means for eternal life will resonate with many looking for hope in a world gone mad.
The saints need to hear the details about their hope of meeting Jesus in the air.
The deafening silence of today’s shepherds leaves both believers and those outside of Christ asking: Where is the hope?
I provide a detailed defense of the Pretribulation viewpoint in: The Triumph of the Redeemed-An Eternal Perspective that Calms Our Fears in Perilous Times. I demonstrate, using an abundance of quotes, that the belief in a thousand-year reign of Jesus dominated the church during its first three hundred years. The historic view of the millennium is a literal view of Revelation 20:1-10 that places it between the Tribulation and the eternal state. There’s no such thing as a “historic premillennialism” that denies a literal interpretation of this text.
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 D. E. Hiebert, “Hymenaeus,” The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Vol 3, Page 224.yuH Hyy