Review of J. A. Hardgrave’s, Jesus Wins

J. A. Hardgrave is someone that I have just met about a year ago on Facebook.  There was an immediate attraction to his personality and faith.  Here was a person that is looking into matters and is willing to change his own views if the text demands it.  There is an honesty there that also realizes, “we ain’t all arrived, yet” – and that is rewarding to meet in this age where everyone is just so certain about what cannot be certain, yet uncertain about what can.  Topsy turvy.

Needless to say, I was approached by him on matters of Eschatology, and we both shared our disdain for what has come to be known as Full Preterism: everything is fulfilled.  Hardgrave writes, “In this book, I am going to give you simple tools that anyone can start using today to finally understand Bible prophecy and grasp what the future holds” (p. 13 – my copy – sent before publication, so there might be page differences).

“Jesus wants to work with you to transform your city, state, and the nations of the world by advancing His Kingdom and picking up where He left off in His ministry. He promised us that even greater works are available to us now that He has ascended to the Father and sent His Spirit to us, and I believe it’s time to see that promise come to pass. God has given you dreams deep within your heart that are worth investing your life in, and I believe a Biblical end-time view is crucial to seeing those dreams come to pass” (14).  My readers might immediately recognize a triumphant-in-culture view here.  They would be right.  Hardgrave exudes a contagious sense of optimism in his words – and regardless of not seeing eye to eye on every matter – that is worthy in and of itself.

J.A. starts the book off noting his being influenced by the popular Left Behind series of Tim LaHaye, thinking that the rapture might occur at any moment because the “signs” of the times were obviously pointing to the end of the world in his own day.  I was raised in the same fashion, circa 1976, when Orson Wells narrated The Late, Great Planet Earth – a movie that scared the hell out of me at church when I was nine years old. That’s not all bad, since, after all, the fear of the LORD never hurt anyone, and is the beginning of wisdom.  But, upon study, Hardgrave noticed that virtually every generation faced an “apocalyptic” scenario.  The pattern seemed to repeat itself – and there was no return of Jesus, and there was no resurrection of the dead (two Doctrines Mr. Hardgrave adamantly supports and believes in).

The book then moves to consider, step by step, how the first century would have possibly heard Jesus in their time.  They had catastrophes, too.  By relating much detail to their own time, this helps us navigate in our own.  The focus of Christianity is not looking for the end of time (although this is affirmed), but serving God in his Kingdom in the here and now.

“I don’t believe Jesus is coming soon, because His bodily return is determined by how much the Kingdom has advanced in the earth, and there’s still way too much advancement to be done” (114).  In other words, Hardgrave is advancing a Postmillennial worldview.  His last chapters on statistics concerning the influence of Christianity on culture in history is a valuable, quick go-to source for such information (all footnoted for further study).

“Prophecy is very important and should be studied and talked about, but what’s most important is people entering into a relationship with Jesus Christ by hearing the gospel and seeing that love demonstrated through us. No matter what subject we talk about, we should talk about it with love and humility because we are always growing” (119).  This is why, while not agreeing with everything in the book, the author himself should be read, for the nuggets, the humility, and the passion concerning the Kingdom of God is there – and that’s  far more important to generating a conversation about the son of man at the right hand of the Father than what we think we know about these things.  That comes through the book more than anything else – at least to me it did.  J.A. strikes me as a person that can have disagreements on issues here and there – but whoever disagrees with him will know that they both talked about the same Jesus in heaven.  The focus is on Jesus and the power of the Spirit today exemplified in holding ones own in these matters, yet knowing that essential things are of far more importance.  There is an enthusiasm here that I missed in the days of being a Full Preterist (which appears more concerned with building a doctrine than in building anything else).  Hardgrave certainly builds his case, but he builds it on the foundation of the man, Christ Jesus, who has given us His Spirit to fulfill the Commission to the world until he comes again.  He connects us to the ongoing, biblical Story that started back then, and ends up when, but is going on now.  We can toss the details about here and there, and we can also speculate on the end and the last day.  But if these conversations are taking away from the here and the now and dynamics of the never-passing-away words of Jesus, then something isn’t right.

With that, I heartily endorse this book, and I know….I have a hunch….it will not be the last book I endorse from this author.

Two Links:

https://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Wins-Times-Better-Think/dp/1641916737/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1536026343&sr=8-1&keywords=j.a.+hardgrave+jesus+wins

and: https://www.preteristarchive.com/2017_hardgrave_i-believe-partial-preterism-and-not-full-heres-why/

Author: Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.

Samuel M. Frost has gained the recognition of his family, peers, colleagues, church members, and local community as a teacher and leader.  Samuel was raised in the Foursquare Gospel tradition and continued in the rising Charismatic Movement of the early 1980’s.  While serving in local congregations he was admitted to Liberty Christian College in Pensacola, Florida where he lived on campus for four years earning his Bachelor’s of Theology degree.  It was there under the tutelage of Dr. Dow Robinson (Summer Institutes of Linguistics), and Dr. Frank Longino (Dallas Theological Seminary) that he was motivated to pursue a career in Theology.  Dr. Robinson wrote two books on Linguistics, Workbook on Phonological Analysis (SIL, 1970) and Manuel for Bilingual Dictionaries: Textbook (SIL, 1969).  It was under these teachers’ guidance that Frost entered into his Master’s studies, being granted a scholarship for Greek I and II at Pentecostal Theological Seminary, accredited, in Cleveland, Tennessee (adjunct of Lee University).  Frost completed his study under Dr. French Arrington, who used the text of J. Gresham Machen, New Testament Greek for Beginners. Frost studied Hebrew for two years under Dr. Mark Futato (author, Beginning Biblical Hebrew, Eisenbrauns, 2003) and Dr. Bruce K. Waltke (author, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax, Eisenbrauns, 1990) at Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, Florida. With combined credits from PTS and RTS, Samuel completed his Master of Arts in Christian Studies and Master of Arts in Religion from Whitefield Theological Seminary in Lakeland, Florida under the direct tutelage of Dr. Kenneth G. Talbot, co-author of the well reviewed work, Hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism (Whitefield Media, 2005) with Dr. Gary Crampton (and Foreword by the late, Dr. D. James Kennedy).  Dr. Talbot also oversaw Samuel’s Dissertation, From the First Adam to the Second and Last Adam (2012) earning him the Magister Theologiae (Th.M.) degree.  He also helped put together A Student’s Hebrew Primer for WTS and graded exams in Hebrew. Samuel’s studies lead him into an issue in the field of Eschatology where his scholarship and unique approach in Hermeneutics garnered him recognition.  Because of the controversial nature of some of his conclusions, scholars were sharp in their disagreement with him.  Frost’s initial work, Misplaced Hope: The Origins of First and Second Century Eschatology (2002, Second Edition, 2006 Bi-Millennial Publishing), sold over four thousand units.  While arguing for the Reformation understanding of sola Scriptura as defined by the Westminster Confession of Faith, Frost’s book launched a heavily footnoted argument for a total reassessment of the doctrine known as the Second Coming of Christ.  The conclusion was that the events of the war of the Jewish nation against their Roman overlords in 66-70 C.E. formed the New Testament authors’ eschatological outlook, and went no further than their own first century generation; a view otherwise known as “full” or "hyper" Preterism.  Internationally recognized Evangelical author and speaker Steve Wohlberg remarked, ‘On the “preterist” side today…we have such influential leaders as Gary DeMar, Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., David Chilton, R.C. Sproul, Max King, James Stuart Russell, Samuel M. Frost, and John Noe.  To these scholars…the beast is not on the horizon, he’s dead” (Italics, his)” (End Time Delusions, Destiny Image Publishers, 2004, page 133).  It should be noted that only Noe, King and Frost supported the “full” Preterist position. Thomas Ice and co-author of the best selling Left Behind series, Tim LaHaye, quote Frost’s work, Misplaced Hope, as well in their book, The End Times Controversy: The Second Coming under Attack (Harvest House Publishers, 2003, page 40).  Dr. Jay E. Adams, who single handedly launched “a revolution” in Christian Counseling with his work, Competent to Counsel: An Introduction to Nouthetic Counseling, (1970, Zondervan), also wrote an analysis of Frost’s work in Preterism: Orthodox or Unorthodox? (Ministry Monographs for Modern Times, INS Publishing, 2004).  Dr. Charles E. Hill, Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, wrote of Misplaced Hope that Frost, “attacks the problem of the early church in a much more thoroughgoing way than I have seen” (When Shall These Things Be? A Reformed Response to Hyper Preterism, Ed. Keith Mathison, Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing, 2003, ‘Eschatology in the Wake of Jerusalem’s Fall’ p. 110-ff.).  There were several other works as well that took the scholarship of Frost seriously, like Ergun Caner in The Return of Christ: A Premillennial Perspective, Eds., Steve W. Lemke and David L. Allen (B&H Publishing, 2011). Because of the controversial nature of Frost’s conclusions on these matters, it was difficult to find a denomination within the Church-at-Large to work in terms of pastoral ministry.  That situation changed when Samuel was called by a Bible study group in Saint Petersburg, Florida to found a congregation.  Christ Covenant Church was established in 2002 operating under the principles outlined by Presbyterian historian James Bannerman’s work, The Church of Christ: A Treatise on the Nature, Powers, Ordinances, Discipline, and Government of the Christian Church (Banner of Truth Trust, 1974, original, 1869).  By-Laws and a Constitution were drawn up in the strictest manner for what was considered an “Independent” establishment of a Presbyterian Church, granted that a “call” was received and recognized by Presiding Elders duly ordained from existing and recognized denominations.  Two Elders, one ordained in the Reformed Presbyterian Church (Mike Delores), and another ordained in the Presbyterian Church of America (Dr. Kelly N. Birks, now deceased) tested and reviewed the call, ordaining Samuel on October 20th, 2002, the Twenty Second Sunday after Trinity.  Proper forms were submitted to Tallahassee, Florida with the stamp of a Notary Public Witness.  Christ Covenant Church (CCC) functioned as a local church for five years with a congregation as large as 30 members.  Frost was gaining recognition after Misplaced Hope had been published in January of that year, and conferences were hosted that included debates with another prominent "full" Preterist educator, Don K. Preston.  CCC hosted best-selling authors, Thomas Ice, and Mark Hitchcock from Dallas Theological Seminary; and Dr. James B. Jordan (Westminster Theological Seminary), well-known author/pastor in Reformed theological circles.  Frost was invited for the next several years to speak at over 25 conferences nation-wide, was featured in articles and an appearance on local news in Tampa for one of CCC’s conferences.  The Evangelical Theological Society also invited Samuel to speak at the Philadelphia conference (Frost is currently a Member of ETS as well as Society of Biblical Literature). During this time Samuel had submitted one more book, Exegetical Essays on the Resurrection of the Dead (TruthVoice, 2008; repr. JaDon Publishing, 2010); and co-wrote, House Divided: A Reformed Response to When Shall These Things Be? (Vision International, 2010).  Frost also wrote several Forewords for up and coming authors who were influenced by his teaching materials, as well as cited many times in books, lectures and academic papers.  However, because of certain aspects of Hermeneutics and Frost’s undaunted commitment to scholarship (with always a strong emphasis on the personal nature of devotional living to Christ), several challenges to the "hyper" Preterist view he espoused finally gave way, largely due to the unwavering commitment to Samuel by the Dean of Whitefield Theological Seminary, Dr. Kenneth G. Talbot, who continually challenged him.  In what shocked the "hyper" Preterist world, Samuel announced after the Summer of 2010 that he was in serious error, and departed the movement as a whole, along with Jason Bradfield, Assistant Pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church, Lakeland, Florida .  Christ Covenant Church had dissolved after 2007 while Samuel continued as a public speaker and writer, largely due to reasons that would unravel Frost’s commitment to "hyper" Preterism as a whole. The documentation of Frost’s departure was published by American Vision’s Founder, Gary DeMar, with a Foreword by Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry.  Why I Left Full Preterism (AV Publishing, 2012) quickly sold out its first run.  The book was later republished under the arm of Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry and is sold today (GoodBirth Ministries Publishing, 2019).  Dr. Keith Mathison, Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformation Bible College in Sanford, Florida, endorsed the book as well.  Samuel has gone on to write, Daniel: Unplugged (Kindle/Amazon, 2019); The Parousia of the Son of Man (Lulu Publishing, 2019); God: As Bill Wilson Understood Him, A Theological Analysis of Alcoholics Anonymous (Lulu Publishing, 2017).  He is also active as a certified Chaplain with the Henry County Sheriff’s Department, Indiana, and enrolled with ICAADA (Indiana Counselor’s Association on Alcohol and Drug Abuse) working directly under Dr. Dennis Greene, Founder of Christian Counseling and Addictions Services, Inc.  Frost’s passion is in the education of the local church on various issues and occasionally works Pastor Alan McCraine with the First Presbyterian Church in Lewisville, Indiana where he periodically is called upon to give the sermon.  He also is working with Redemption Life Bible Church with Pastor Tyler Jackson in New Castle, Indiana.  Samuel, with his wife, Kimberly, helped to establish Heaven’s Bread Basket food pantry that donates food items to local families in need once a month – a ministry of the Session of First Presbyterian Church. Samuel has four children, one step-son, ages sixteen to twenty-eight and has worked part time at Ace Hardware in New Castle, Indiana for over five years.  He has a solid reputation in the community, and has performed marriages and funerals.  He also sits on the Board of the Historical Preservation Committee in New Castle.

3 thoughts on “Review of J. A. Hardgrave’s, Jesus Wins”

  1. Good info. Thanks, Sam.

    John 13:7…What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.

    1 Corinthians 13:12…For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

    Ever see this?
    *The Everlasting Gospel*
    By William Blake (1757–1827)
    The vision of Christ that thou dost see
    Is my vision’s greatest enemy.
    Thine has a great hook nose like thine;
    Mine has a snub nose like to mine.
    Thine is the Friend of all Mankind;”
    Mine speaks in parables to the blind.
    Thine loves the same world that mine hates;
    Thy heaven doors are my hell gates.
    Socrates taught what Meletus
    Loath’d as a nation’s bitterest curse,”
    And Caiaphas was in his own mind
    A benefactor to mankind.
    Both read the Bible day and night,
    But thou read’st black where I read white.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This gets to the heart of NT Eschatology…..Christ and his Day has come and is now….the end has been upon us ever since…..but it is “hidden” for the time being….so that Faith may have its work in patience….bringing in all those who are called and given to the Son by the Father…..and he will raise them on the last day.

      Like

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