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February 26, 2021 12:01 am
Have you ever been asked about what it means to be premillennial, postmillennial, or amillennial? Today, R.C. Sproul walks us through these major views on the return of Jesus Christ and His reign over the earth.
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Throughout history there have always been those who maintain that Christ would come back before the millennial and would establish a kingdom for thousand years, after which there would be the great tribulation, and the final battle relation describes a 1000 year reign on Christ rules his kingdom and peace saturates the world but throughout church history.
Many have come to different conclusions on what that actually means this week on Renewing Your Mind. Dr. RC school has provided us with a firm foundation for understanding the end times and we been featuring his series.
The last days according to Jesus. So far we've learned about the book of Revelation Antichrist and the beast.
Today he explains the millennial without come to the end of our overview of matters relating to the end times and it would certainly be lack if I left out at least a small or simple summary of the various eschatological positions that vie with each other for acceptance in our day that are usually articulated in terms of how one understands the New Testament teaching of the millennium look at the biblical text for that in a moment but you hear the various schools of thought described in a kind of theological shorthand where we say somebody is pre-millenarian or their pre-mail somebody else's post mill somebody else's mill somebody else's dispensational particular type of pre-mail and so on.
And these different theological and eschatological positions are all defined in terms of how they understand the millennium, but these issues are not simply about the millennium, they represent a whole complete different view of eschatological matters. Besides, how one understands the millennial question. Let's look at the text that has engendered so much discussion about the millennium. We find it in the book of Revelation. In the 20th chapter beginning at verse one we read. Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who was the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand year. Here's the first reference to the thousand year. And it has to do with the binding or training of Satan, where Satan is held in captivity. According to the imagery here of Revelation 4 a. Of a thousand years, and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up and set a seal on him so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while so you get the picture in the chronology so far.
Satan is bound. These held captive fees in the bottomless pit for thousand years and at the end of that thousand years is going to be released for a little while and I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them.
Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands and they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years, but the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. Now when the thousand years of expired, Satan will be released from his prison will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them the devil who deceived them was cast in the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. And then I saw a great white throne and so on. In the description of the judgment. So here we hear about an interim period of history of the thousand year where Satan is bound, and Christ is raining together with his site, followed by the un-loosing of Satan, who then at that time will wage war against Christ and against his saints, and of course the outcome of that war is not in doubt as Christ will ultimately triumph and together with his saints will reign forever. Now how is this. Of the thousand years. This is the only place we find any specific reference to it in the Bible, but of course you have to find it wants to take it seriously out of the different schools of eschatology look at this role, let's begin with the so-called millennial position. The word millennial literally means no millennium, someone who is all moral is not moral and the ore represents an negation and that position takes the idea that the millennium that is described here is not a literal thousand year. But is speaking in symbolic language about the history of the church. The millennial position believes that the age of the church is the age of the kingdom of God and that the kingdom of God began with the first appearance of Christ. And when he came he fulfilled the nearby prophecies of John the Baptist who said the kingdom of God was at hand in terms of radical nearness when Jesus appeared on the scene. He said the kingdom of God is in your midst. He said if you see me casting out Satan by the finger of God, then you know that the kingdom of God has come upon you and so in the ascension of Christ. He ascends to the right hand of God. He goes to his coronation where he is crowned the King of Kings and the Lord of lords. So they all millennial position is based on the conviction that the kingdom of God is not something that is completely out there somewhere in the future, but that it has already begun. It has started.
It still awaits its final consummation, but the prophecies in the Old Testament that refer to the future of Israel and Israel's full and final redemption.
Refer according to the all-male position to the church. The church is the kingdom of God. The church fulfills the prophecies of the Old Testament. Now the church includes both Gentiles and Jews.
The all-male position would still leave room for a future dealing of God with ethnic Israel with Jewish people, but not in a separate agenda a separate program were God has one redemptive plan for the Jews, and another redemptive plan for the Gentiles, but rather all of the prophecy in the Bible refers to the church and the kingdom of Christ that it will include both Jews and Gentiles now also the all-male position believes that the Christian community as it manifests the kingdom will have an ongoing positive influence on culture that the impact of the church on the world will be to bring blessing and improvement to the human condition, and to the human situation. Throughout history, there will be an ongoing positive influence of Christ and his church in the world.
John Calvin, for example, taught that the supreme task of the church between its beginning and its consummation at the end of time is to bear witness to the invisible reign of Christ.
He said it is the task of the church to make the invisible kingdom visible.
You recall that when Jesus left this planet.
The very last question that was asked him by his disciples, was the question Lord, will you now restore the kingdom to Israel.
And what did Jesus say he didn't say how many times you have to tell you, there's nothing to be a kingdom for Israel.
Now, he said, look, those times are in my father's hands and then he goes on to say, but you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth and what the all-male position would be is that it is the church's task to be witnesses to the invisible kingdom that already exist. The Lord Jesus Christ reigns right now he is the Lord of lords. He is the King of Kings and we are in the kingdom age that the kingdom has not been consummated. Also, the mill looks for a future apostasy where.
Towards the end of time. The church will become corrupt, so corrupt that it will end in a radical state of apostasy which is not been seen in this degree even up to this point in church history.
This is why the reason why many people believe that we are entering the final hours of history because of the widespread apostasy of the Christian church that began with the advent of 19th century liberalism, with its agenda basically of unbelief. In any case, they would say that this apostasy will result than in a. Of great suffering for those who are faithful to Christ.
In this period of suffering will be what they understand the tribulation to be in which the antichrist will become manifest at the end of time, and the saints will have to endure great suffering during this period of the work of the antichrist who will be persecuting the people of God and the church will not escape this period of tribulation through some kind of pre-tribulation rapture and then at the end of this.
Christ will return and triumph over the forces of evil and finish his work of redemption, which includes the renovation of all creation with the new heavens and the new earth, but all of this is taking place over an indefinite period of time that will not be a literal thousand years because the all-male position is based upon the assumption that the millennium really began in the New Testament with the triumph of Christ in his cross and resurrection, and in his ascension and so the thousand year reign is an indefinite period from the time Christ is inaugurated as King until whatever time in the future he comes back with its 1000 2000 3000 4000 years, literally, that the millennium is simply a symbolic representation of this parenthesis or this interim. On the other hand you have the dispensational form of pre-mill eschatology where the dispensational view is that we are right now not in the kingdom age. But we are in the church age and the church age represents a parenthesis between the old covenant.
And the coming of the kingdom to the dispensational is the coming of the kingdom is completely future. This is one of the things that created so much controversy over understanding. For example, Jesus teaching in the sermon on the mount. Some if not most, classical dispensational's believe that the ethic taught by Jesus in the sermon on the Mount has no relevance to the contemporary church, but it is a kingdom ethic that will only be implemented at the end of the time after Christ comes back when he will establish his kingdom. Also, the pre-mill position. As I indicated already views two distinct programs in redemptive history 14 Israel and one for the church so all the Old Testament prophecies in many of the New Testament prophecies that talk about.
For example, the antichrist, appearing the man of lawlessness appearing in the temple, and so on. The dispensational's look for a future of the people of Israel after the church is out of the world where the Temple will be rebuilt. The sacrifices will be re-instituted and Christ will come and convert the Jews to himself.
But there will be a redemptive plan for the Jews that is distinct from the redemptive plan of the church and the church is not the new Israel church is a different institution from Israel.
So many of the Old Testament prophecies that look toward the future redemption of Israel. According to dispensationalism are not in any way fulfilled in the New Testament church, but they still await their final fulfillment as God works with the Jews, and as I said, dispensationalism looks for this pre-tribulation rapture and at the end there will be a thousand year reign at the time that Christ comes back again, followed by after that thousand years, the victory over Satan. But Satan will not have been bound until that thousand year reign, now the post-millennial position, which differs from these others believes that the church again is Israel. They share that idea with the all-male position, but that the kingdom of God is a kingdom of spiritual redemption and is not a program of earthly or political transformation. However, the post mill position of all the positions is the one most optimistic with respect for the church's influence on society that the influence of the church on society will be transforming and as the great commission succeeds, there will be a great blessing in the world. As a result of the proclamation of the gospel and the impact of the church and after a thousand years. Literal thousand years of this, Jesus will return at the end of the thousand year. With the final judgment. So for most post-millennial us the thousand year reign of Christ has not yet begun, but it will be ushered in and be manifesting a major victory of the influence of Christianity on the world and so that the power of the gospel in the part of the church will get greater and greater and greater rather than smaller than smaller than small and so some people in various types of post mill position of almost look for a kingdom of God on earth for a subsequent and substantive period of time in which these things take place now with respect to historic premillennialism and was made a distinction between premillennialism and dispensational's premillennialism because within eschatological theories. This distinction exists.
There is a classical doctrine of pre-mill that differs at certain points from dispensationalism dispensationalism as a movement began in the 19th century, though it claims to be simply recovering the true biblical eschatology in the eschatology of the early church, but throughout history there have always been those who maintain that Christ would come back before the millennial and would establish a kingdom for a thousand years, after which there would be the great tribulation, and the final battle this view, the historic view of pre-mill is that the New Testament era church is the initial phase of Christ's kingdom as had been prophesied by Old Testament prophecy. Second of all, the New Testament church will when occasional victories in history, but ultimately will fail in her mission lose influence and become corrupted to the point of apostasy is worldwide wickedness and corruption increases at the end of the church age.
Then the church will pass through a future worldwide unprecedented time of tribulation and travail. This is courses known as the period of the great tribulation that will punctuate the end of contemporary history as we know it and then after the tribulation.
Christ will return to rapture his church resurrect the departed saints and conduct the judgment of the righteous, all within the twinkling of an eye, and then Christ will descend to the earth with his glorified saints fight the battle of Armageddon bind Satan establish a worldwide political kingdom which will be personally administered by Jesus for a thousand years and his headquarters. Of course, will be in Jerusalem and then at the end of this millennial reign, Satan will be loose and another massive rebellion against the kingdom and against Christ will occur, then God will intervene in fiery judgment to rescue Christ and the saints, and then the final resurrection and final judgment will occur in the eternal order of history will be ushered in. So these different views are shorthand described in terms of the relationship to this thousand year. Again, the recapitulate the all-male position is that the millennium is not a literal thousand year reign. The other three positions do have a literal thousand year reign. There is the thousand year reign of the historic premillennialism takes place as we just read at a future point in which Christ will reign for a thousand years on the earth. Satan will be bound then it will be released for season. The battle of Armageddon takes place, and so on. The post-millinery view sees a thousand year period of great prosperity for the church that is still not yet come. And when it comes Christ will reign through that thousand year period of great benefit for the whole world. And then after that there will be this tribulation and the antichrist and all of these sort of things and so I think you get some feel for this and where the prioress fallout. Obviously, is that the full predators don't believe in the millennium units already taken place and the partial prioress penned but not all tend to fall into the camp of the post mill position or the all-male position, but most of them are post mill and still see future prophecies left to be fulfilled, but they have an optimistic view of the influence of the church in history. Now the reason why there are these competing positions of all-male post mill dispensationalism historic pre-mill credit risk and all the rest is because it is so difficult to know with precision and with certainty the exact references of future prophecies. And that's why the greatest minds in the church continue to examine these prophecies. We don't have the benefit of hindsight, which is 2020 and we want to be always vigilant and always alert, watching the course of history as the patient seriously prophecies was so encouraging and helpful to hear such a balanced presentation of all of these viewpoints.
With regard to the end time where how they originated.
Thanks for listening to Renewing Your Mind on this Friday as we wrap up Dr. RC Sproul series. The last days according to Jesus. This topic always brings great interest and probably stirs many new questions so I think you'll enjoy digging into this series with Dr. Spruill.
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Let me remind you that our app allows you to begin viewing the videos right away while you wait for the DVDs to arrive. Once you completed your request look for my learning library in the gap in the series will appear there again. The title of the series is the last days according to Jesus as yours for your gift of any amount or number again is 800-435-4343 and the web address is Renewing Your Mind.org next week will feature a couple of series. First, Dr. Michael Reeves who dig in the church history with the English Reformation and the Puritan and will spend some time with Dr. Derek Thomas as he guides us through the Pilgrim's progress. We'll build one's beginning Monday. On Renewing Your Mind