Sharon Nichols: Spurgeon, Justification and Full Preterism (2011)

a proper understanding of justification destroys their claim that death was not defeated until AD70

Spurgeon, Justification and Full Preterism

By Sharon Nichols

I held to full (hyper) preterism from early 2002 until late 2009.  While a full (hyper) preterist, I came to embrace the Reformed faith.  Ironically, as time passed by, I came to realize there is no way one can hold to full (hyper) preterism and still maintain any real semblance of the Reformed faith so I left the full (hyper) preterism view.  I am now extremely blessed  to be free from the very limiting “box” of  full (hyper) preterism, in which there is no real systematic nor cohesiveness in which to rest ones faith.  Thank God for His sovereignty.   I am truly humbled by His greatness and mercy.

On April 30, 1865 Charles Spurgeon preached an incredible sermon on justification. (You can find the complete sermon HERE )

Below I’ve shared part of his sermon.  As you read it keep in mind that in full preterism, justification is ultimately put off until AD70 when they claim the second coming happened. Full preterism ultimately denies death was defeated through the works of Jesus Christ on the cross.  Instead, they say death was not defeated until the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem in AD70 when they claim Christ returned and the resurrection of the dead came.  Yet a proper understanding of justification destroys their claim that death was not defeated until AD70.

“My dear Brothers and Sisters, do not doubt the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ whatever cavilers may say.

 Remember that you must have a righteousness. It is this which the Law requires. I do not read that the Law made with  our first parents required suffering—it demanded it as a penalty after its breach—the righteousness of the Law required not suffering, but obedience. Suffering would not release us from the duty of obeying. Lost souls in Hell are still under the Law and their woes and pangs, if completely endured, would never justify them. Obedience and obedience alone can justify, and where can we have it but in Jesus our Substitute?
Christ comes to magnify the Law—how does He do it but by obedience? If I am to enter into life by the keeping of  the Commandments, as the Lord tells me in the nineteenth chapter of Matthew and the seventeenth verse, how can I, except by Christ having kept them? And how can He have kept the Law except by obedience to its commands? The promises in the Word of God are not made to suffering. They are made to obedience—consequently Christ’s sufferings, though  they may remove the penalty, do not, alone, make me the inheritor of the promise.
“If you will enter into life,” said Christ, “keep the Commandments.” It is only Christ’s keeping the Commandments  that entitles me to enter life. “The Lord is well-pleased for His righteousness’ sake. He will magnify the Law and make it honorable.” I do not enter into life by virtue of His sufferings—those deliver me from death, those purge me from filthiness. But entering the enjoyments of the life eternal must be the result of obedience. And as it cannot be the result of mine, it is the result of His which is imputed to me.   

We find the Apostle Paul putting Christ’s obedience in contrast to the disobedience of Adam—“As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous.” Now this is not Christ’s death merely, but Christ’s active obedience which is here meant and it is by this that we are made righteous. Beloved, you need not sing with stammering tongues that blessed verse of our hymn—

“Jesus, Your perfect righteousness, 

My beauty is, my glorious dress.”
In spite of all the outcry of modern times against this doctrine—it is written in Heaven and is a sure and precious Truth of God to be received by all the faithful—that we are justified by faith through the righteousness of Christ Jesus imputed

to us.

See what Christ has done in His living and in His dying—His acts becoming our acts, and His righteousness being imputed to us so that we are rewarded as if we were righteous—while He was punished as though He had been guilty.

This justification, then, comes to sinners as an act of pure Grace, the foundation of it being Christ’s righteousness. The practical way of its application is by faith. The sinner believes God and believes that Christ is sent of God and takes Christ Jesus to be his only confidence and trust. And by that act he becomes a justified soul. It is not by repenting, but by believing  that we are justified! It is not by deep experience of the guilt of sin. It is not by bitter pangs and throes under the temptations of Satan. It is not by mortification of the body, nor by the renunciation of self. All these are good, but the act which  justifies is a look  at Christ!

We, having nothing, being nothing, boasting of nothing and being utterly emptied, do look to Him whose wounds stream with life-giving blood. And as we look to Him, we live and are justified by His life. There is life in a look at the Crucified One and life in the sense of justification. He who a minute before was in himself a condemned criminal fit only to be taken to the place from where he came and to suffer Divine wrath, is at once, by an act of faith, made an heir of God, joint-heir with Jesus Christ—taken from the place of condemnation and put into the place of acceptance—so that now he dreads no more the wrath of God! The curse of God cannot touch him, for Christ was made a curse for him, as it is written, “Cursed is everyone that hangs on a tree.”
Now concerning this great mercy of justification let us say that it is  instantaneousSanctification  needs a whole life.  Justification is the work of a second, perhaps it needs no appreciable time. The sinner looks to Christ. It is all done—his sin is gone in a moment. The righteousness of Christ is, as in an instant, imputed to the believing sinner. Sanctification, however, progresses or declines. It is a thing of changes. The work of the Holy Spirit sometimes ripens swiftly and at other times, by reason of temptation or trial within, it is but slow in its advance. But justification is complete in a moment! The dying thief was as clean one moment after he had trusted in Christ as he was when he was with Christ in Paradise.
Justification in Heaven is not more complete than it is on earth. No, listen to me, Child of God. When your soul seems to be a very pandemonium through the blasphemies of Satan. When your doubts and fears leap upon you like so many lions. When your sins prevail against you so that you cannot look up, yet, if you are a Believer you are even then, in your worst moments, as completely and perfectly  justified  as in those happy days when on Tabor’s summit you were apt to say, “Let us build three tabernacles and here abide.” Justification never alters in a child of God. God pronounces him guiltless and guiltless he is! Jehovah justifies him and neither his holiness can improve his righteousness, nor his sins diminish it. He stands in Christ Jesus the same yesterday, today and forever—as accepted one moment as at another moment—as sure of eternal life at one instant as at another. Oh, how blessed is this Truth of God—justified in a moment and justified completely!
And observe, my dear Brothers and Sisters, that he who is thus justified is justified infallibly. There is no mistake concerning the transaction. “It is God that justifies.” Where, then, can there be a mistake? If I justify myself, I am a tool and I make God a liar. But if God justifies me, who is he that condemns? I, a poor sinner, black as night, fly to the shelter of the great Shield stained with blood which God holds over my head and there I stand at all times. And though I know that every lightning of Justice might well dart its force upon me, as I am in myself, yet as I see my Shield, the Lord’s Anointed, I am not afraid. Standing under that Shield, I defy Heaven, and earth and Hell! Crying in the language of Paul, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifies. Who is he that condemns?”
There is a prisoner at the bar and the jury has just brought in a verdict of, “Not guilty.” The judge bids him go free.  There are people in the court who gnash their teeth at him. There are persons in the street who hate him—what does he care? “I have been pronounced ‘not guilty’ by the proper tribunal. The Judge himself tells me that I am acquitted. No law officer can touch me. Not the fiercest enemy in the world can drag me into court again. I have been tried and found ‘not guilty.’ And who is he that condemns?”

It is just so with the Christian. Christ’s righteousness is put upon him. Christ takes his sins and when he stands before God’s bar, the eternal Voice seems to say, “I see no sin in that man.” How can He? All that man’s sins Christ took away!  The eternal Voice sounds forth again, “I can see righteousness there.” And well He may see it, for Christ’s righteousness is there and therefore the man is infallibly, upon grounds of justice which are not disputable—infallibly, upon grounds which he himself may realize as being certain—justified through Christ Jesus! Remember, dear Brethren—and I will not occupy you much longer over a theme where we might be tempted to say that this justification is irreversible!

Once justified you shall never be condemned. Jehovah never plays fast and loose with men. He does not look upon a sinner and say, “I forgive you,” and then afterwards say, “Depart, you cursed!” Arminians may think so, but the God of Believers will not do so. The God of Christians says, “I am the Lord, I change not. Therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed.” Having taken the prodigal into the house and put the ring on his finger and the shoes on his feet, He never turns that prodigal out of doors. Being married to His people He never sues for divorce, for the Lord, the God of Israel, says He hates putting away.

“I, even I, am He that blots out your iniquities for My name’s sake and will not remember them against you anymore forever.” “I have cast your iniquities into the depths of the sea.” Pardon and justification are irreversible and consequently the blessings which justification brings to us belong to us by a promise that can never be broken, forever and ever. If I am justified then I have peace with God and that peace shall be like a river, never dried up, because my righteousness is like the waves of the sea, never exhausted. If I am justified I can claim Jehovah’s protection. And I shall have it, for He will not suffer the just man to perish. If I am justified I may come before God and ask for Heaven as my  right, as a reward of  ighteousness imputed to me. And I shall have it, for He will never deny to a justified person the fullness of joy which is at His right hand forevermore. Oh, what a blessing to be justified!
Once more, before I leave this point, I must ask you to be kind enough to question yourselves as to whether you have been justified. “Well,” says one, “perhaps I have been and do not know it.” My dear Friend, I do not think so. The work of justification is generally attended with such a flood of joy that I think you  must  know it. Bunyan’s pilgrim did not lose the burden off his back and not know it! As soon as it was gone, he gave three great leaps for joy and went on his way singing. You may have doubts about whether you are justified—I hope you will not be easy under them—but will seek after an assured interest in Christ.
My dear Brothers and Sisters, if you have any doubt, go to Christ again! If you are not justified, go to Him to be justified. Just as you are, with nothing but the plea of His blood in your mouth—go to Him—for He casts out none that come unto God by Him. Know that the act of faith justifies and be not afraid to exercise that act of faith, notwithstanding all your shortcomings and your sins. “Hear me, Jesus! If I never was a saint, I am a sinner and You did come to save sinners and I cast myself on You. Your promise is that You will cast out none that come. Oh, cast me not out! Receive even me, and accept me for Your love’s sake.”

Thus much upon justification. And now a little upon GLORY. How that golden word has been debased in the coinage of human speech. It has come to mean the glitter of war’s helmet and the noise of the crowd’s hurrahs. Smollet  called it, “the fair child of peril.” Johnson wrote—“Glory, the casual gift of thoughtless crowds. Glory, the bride of greedy virtue!” It is a far other and higher Glory of which we speak today. As high as the Heaven is above the earth is God’s Glory from all the poor stuff which mortals dignify with that fair name.“Whom He justified, them He also glorified.” They follow close together, you see. A little stream divides them, but the Apostle says nothing about it and you and I need not say much. It is a narrow stream called Death—there is no Glory without passing through that, or through the great change when the Lord comes. But there is nothing said about it and so we will not say anything. It is not worth thinking of, it is swallowed up in victory. It may be an enemy, but it is an enemy that is to be destroyed.

Now, while speaking of Glory, I think I must divide the Glory which God gives to the justified into three parts. There is, first of all, the Glory which disembodied spirits are enjoying even now. There is, secondly, the  resurrection Glory, which they will enjoy when the soul and body shall be reunited and when, through the millennium, they shall be “forever with the Lord.” And then there is “the eternal weight of Glory,” which is to be  revealed both in body and soul in the never-ending state of bliss which God has prepared for His people.

Let us raise our thoughts a little while to the state of disembodied spirits. The moment that the soul leaves the body, the believing soul, the justified soul, is in Glory. We know that there is no preparatory process for it to pass through.  Romanism holds that some of the best saints go to Heaven when they die, but that the great mass of inferior saints are not qualified for Heaven and must undergo a purgation for a series of years till they are prepared to enter Glory. They say that the saints who died under the Old Testament, or at least the most of them, went to the limbus patrurn—which some wicked Protestants call Limbo—where they remained without the beatific vision until the Lord Jesus went and preached to the spirits in prison and led them up afterwards to Heaven with Him.  (End Quote)

Read the complete sermon here:

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