Theology: ESCHATOLOGY

PREFACE TO THE STUDY OF ESCHATOLOGY

 

Having just finished the study on Ecclesiology, I am very excited to look into the future for the Church. The study of the Church was exciting and fulfilling, but as we looked at the Word for that study we must do the same for this study. The Church was exciting, and we know it to be the same in our experience in local assemblies; however that is a portion of what God has planned for us as we assemble in eternity as the Universal Church to enjoy our wonderful Savior and Head, Jesus Christ.

 

God has created for us here on earth the temporal church to minister to our needs and problems, but in Eschatology we will see that not only is He tying up all the prophetic loose ends, but He is laying out the future eternal habitation for those of us that have decided to follow His Son.

 

As this study begins, a few explanations are in order. First these thoughts are not my thoughts alone. The Lord has led me through the theology courses of four colleges and seminaries, so you can imagine that much of what I relate to you is coming from many other men, and many books that I have had the privilege of reading. As I have worked through this information, I have evaluated and adapted it to my own thinking and theological system. There are more complete works on the subject of future things, but I trust this will be the most practical of these books. Eschatology should, if nothing else demand that we change our manner of living. We say we believe that Christ could come at any minute, yet we are amassing temporal things by the truck load as though He has revealed to us that He will not appear in our life time. Future things should definitely affect our present life as well as give us great hope and joy as we look forward to that day when we will be with the Lord.

 

The study will be divided into topics and as the topics are discussed they will be related to the other areas of discussion.

 

I trust that the reader will gain an overall view of the subject.

 

 

I trust that not only will the reader gain a proper understanding of what the Bible presents, but a general understanding of some of the false teachings in the area of future things. I also desire that the facts will motivate the life to changes that the Lord might direct in individual lives.

 

At the end of the book is a series of appendixes which contain some miscellaneous information that may be of help to the reader. There is a test to see just how much you really know about Eschatology, as well as other information. You should browse through these to acquaint yourself with the items.

 

One that might be of great assistance is a listing of authors/books and their approximate theological positions.

 

 

OVERVIEW OF THE FUTURE

 

It is recommended that the reader take the test found in appendix one to see where they are in their knowledge of the future. This will give you some idea of how you are in your eschatological prowess.

 

This section is designed to give the reader a quick over view of all that we will be looking at as we move through the study.

 

Don’t get worried if you become a little overwhelmed or confused in this section. You can come back to this section as you read the other topical studies and refresh yourself concerning the topic and where it belongs in the big picture.

 

We will cover items of interest in chronological order beginning with God before He created.

 

GOD

 

Before there was time, Lucifer, man, earth or anything else the Trinity conceived of a plan to bring glory to themselves. The plan was complete in its totality. This is important to the position that will be presented. It becomes important when Christ comes to earth as the Messiah of the Old Testament and was rejected by His people the Jews. Some view the events that follow the cross as something new and unique. This study will submit a position that states the church is a continuation of God’s continuing program and not a new program.

 

I will submit to you that it was not a new program, but rather a continuation of that original plan that was set by the Trinity in eternity past. The church was an integrated part of that plan from the beginning.

 

THE CREATION

 

At a point in eternity past, God specified that creation would occur. He created through the Son and by the power of the Spirit. Creation began with the angels and beings of the heavenly scene. Lucifer and his followers fell in this period before the creation of the heavens.

 

 

THE FALL OF MAN

 

God created heaven and earth for the next step in His overall program. On the earth He placed Adam and Eve who soon after their creation fell into sin. The sin separated them from their creator.

 

Over time God worked with different men and women. These people followed the revelation that they had from God and found favor with God through a sacrificial system that is depicted in the early part of the book of Genesis and later in the law.

 

ABRAHAM

 

God made a covenant with a man by the name of Abraham and made several promises to him. These promises were not conditional on Abraham’s obedience. Abraham followed God’s program through his life by faith in what God had told him. Abraham was the basis upon which God built the people of Israel. Israel was blessed through their father Abraham until the nation turned against Him in the time of the kings.

 

KING SAUL

 

After many years of God dealing with His through the priestly system and leaders like Moses and Joshua, the Jewish people decided they needed a king to rule over them. This was because everyone else was doing it. All the nations around them had rulers so they decided they must have one also. God allowed Saul to be named king over Israel.

 

KING DAVID

 

Saul’s successor was David. David was not a prime example of purity in his life, yet he pleased God. God blessed David’s ministry to His people.

 

KING SOLOMON

 

David’s son became king and ruled for many years. Under his reign the people become dissatisfied and ultimately his two sons became the kings of the divided kingdom. The ten tribes of the north went their direction, and the tribes of Judah and Benjamin went theirs.

 

 

The two peoples had a series of kings that ultimately brought the peoples to destruction. The northern tribes were taken captive by the Assyrians and the southern tribes fell into the hands of the Babylonians later.

 

THE PROPHETS

 

Prior to the fall of these two peoples God sent messengers to His people to warn them of coming tragedies if they did not change their ways. He gave them fair warning to turn back to Godly ways or reap the consequences. These men preached their message until the fall of the peoples. Even after the captivities God chose to speak to his people through prophets.

 

Throughout the Old Testament the thought of a savior or Messiah is given. These prophets proclaimed the Messiah and the kingdom that He would set up here on earth. That kingdom was the desire of the Jewish people.

 

THE BIRTH OF CHRIST

 

When we move into the New Testament John the Baptist is on the scene preaching repentance for the kingdom of heaven is near. The kingdom that he was preaching about was that Old Testament kingdom that the Jews were awaiting for.

 

Christ began preaching the same kingdom when He started His ministry. The message was not acceptable to the Jews and as a result they rejected their Messiah.

 

THE DEATH OF CHRIST

 

Ultimately the Jews killed Christ on the cross. This was not a mistake or a glitch in the plan of God, but rather something that the Trinity had planned beforehand. Some theologians suggest that the fall of man was a surprise party for God and that He dreamed up the plan of salvation to salvage something from His creation. This is not true in any manner. All that has gone on in time is according to the plan that was set before the foundation of the world.

 

 

THE PLACE OF DEPARTED SPIRITS

 

In the Old Testament period when a person died they were transported to the place of departed spirits, called Sheol.

 

This place is mentioned and defined in Luke sixteen in the account of the rich man and Lazarus. In short it was a two compartment area with a great chasm between that no one can cross. There has been much confusion as to why this place of departed spirits existed. Why would God send the saints there and then transfer them to heaven? What is the place for? Is this hell?

 

It seems that the best explanation of all this is that before the cross there could be no regeneration, thus no salvation as such. Yes, the Old Testament saints could please God by faith. Yes, they were eternally saved, however the provision was not made as yet. In God’s eyes they would be in eternity with Him, yet there was the need of the death of Christ to make the provision. At the time of the cross all departed spirits were in Sheol. The lost were in the side of torments and the saved were in the side with Abraham. This place was temporary for the righteous until their salvation could be completed by Christ.

 

This was accomplished through His death on the cross for their sin. The Old Testament saints sins were covered so there was fellowship with God, but they needed Christ’s blood to cleanse those sins.

 

After Christ died, He ascended to the heavenly tabernacle, according to Hebrews, and offered His blood once for all. He then proceeded to Sheol to empty it of the believing saints, to take them to be with the Father until the culmination of time.

 

At the time of the Great White Throne judgment the departed lost in Sheol will be brought forth to face their judgment and then they well be cast into the lake of fire for eternity. (Revelation 20:11-15)

 

THE CHURCH

 

The church is God’s people in this age or dispensation. We are not something new and special; we are just a continuation of God’s program and kingdom. The church is the gathering of all of God’s people in this age, as Israel was God’s people in the age of the Law.

 

 

THE RAPTURE

 

At the end of the church age the Lord will remove His people from the world and prepare the earth and Israel for the final stages of prophecy, the tribulation and the events that will follow.

 

THE TRIBULATION

 

The tribulation is a seven year period of great destruction and judgment upon the earth and the lost. During the tribulation Israel will turn to God nationally ending the great separation between God and His nation. The tribulation will be a time of preparation for the kingdom which is the next event in God’s timetable.

 

THE RESURRECTION

OF OLD TESTAMENT SAINTS

 

At the end of the tribulation the Old Testament and Tribulation saints will be raised from the dead, and will enter the Millennial kingdom.

 

THE MILLENNIAL KINGDOM

 

The saints of the kingdom will live for one thousand years with Christ ruling on the throne of David in Jerusalem. During the kingdom the Lord will rule the entire earth, and Satan will be bound. There will be peace in the kingdom until near the end, when Satan is released and will gather his forces for one final rebellion.

 

THE GREAT WHITE THRONE

 

The final preeternity act of God concerning his creation will be the Great White Throne. This will be the time when all the lost will appear before God for their final judgment.

 

THE LAKE OF FIRE

 

The lake of fire is the final abode for all the lost, the Devil and all of his coworkers. This is not a time when they are destroyed, as in annihilation. They will be in eternal permanent torment which will not have end.

 

 

ETERNITY

 

Eternal life, or eternal existence with the Trinity, is the future of the believer. This existence will take place in the abode that He has prepared for the believers.

 

The overview that we have just had is called the pretribulational view of eschatology. We need to look at some terms that will become commonplace in our discussion.

 

PRETRIBULATIONALISM

 

Pretribulationalism teaches that the church will be raptured or taken out of the world before the tribulation. There is no reason for God to allow His people to go through a time of judgment so will remove them to the heavenlies. During this time the judgment seat of Christ will take place. This is when the believers works not their souls will be judged. The marriage feast of the Lamb will probably take place at this time, though we have no text which really tells us this. Some feel that the marriage feast would fit well in the Millennial kingdom when the Old Testament saints are present, and others place it at the beginning of eternity when all the lost are taken care of and all believers are eternally with their Lord.

 

Where you place this occasion depends on your view of who the bride it. Most theologians follow the traditional thought that the bride is the church, while a few theologians suggest that the bride is Israel. Does that suggest a good topic of study for you? I trust that some of these suggested topics of study will tweak your interest and that you will dive into these areas as you have time.

 

MIDTRIBULATIONALISM

 

This teaching holds that the church will go through part of the tribulation sees the church raptured at the middle of the tribulation, just before the Great Tribulation begins. There is indication that the first half of the tribulation will be bad, but the last half will be Great. The Great tribulation will be much worse than the first half.

 

There is a similar teaching called partial rapture which sees the righteous believers taken out before the tribulation, however the not so righteous are left to go through part of the tribulation for purification. Those purified are either taken out all at once during the tribulation, or they are removed individually as their time of purification ends.

 

POSTTRIBULATIONALSIM

 

Some feel that the church will go through the entire tribulation and will be raptured out at the end.

 

PREMILLENNIALISM

 

The next item to consider is the teaching that we have given in this brief overview. Premillennialism teaches that the rapture and tribulation are before the Millennial kingdom.

 

POSTMILLENNIALISM

 

Postmillennialism would teach that the rapture and/or the tribulation will occur after the Millennial kingdom.

 

AMMILLENNIALISM

 

Ammillennialism teaches there is nor literal, real 1000 year kingdom. This teaching holds there is either no kingdom at all, or that the kingdom is going on at this time. The Devil is bound in this age and this age is not confined to a specific time limit.

 

COVENANT THEOLOGY

 

Those holding to covenant theology believe that God has and will operate with man through the Old Testament covenants. The covenants were set, and we are still under them. Sometime in the future the Lord will tie all things together.

 

People holding to this position mix all the teachings and promises of Scripture and apply them to believers in this age. In other words there is no difference between Israel and the church. All believers of all times are the same, and the promise to one is the promise to all.

 

 

ALLEGORICAL INTERPRETATION

 

The method of interpreting Scripture that is called allegorical sees all of Scripture as a series of information that really has no valid meaning as it is, but we must look into the “real” message of the passage. The Scripture text itself is only a vehicle to carry the real message of God. Nothing in Scripture can be taken for face, literal value. You must find the spiritual meaning. Some view a text in more than one level of information. The recorded level which was for the man that recorded it and then there is the level that has the “real” spiritual message for us.

 

LITERAL INTERPRETATION

 

The other method of interpretation is called literal because that is how you interpret. The passage means what it means in plain, easy, literal reading. There is no “hidden” or “spiritual” message behind the literal message. We will look into interpretation as we go along in the study.

 

KINGDOM THEOLOGY

 

Kingdom theology is a newer system of thought which appears in many different forms. The common thread of these new lines of thinking is that the church has the responsibility for getting the world back into a condition that would be conducive to the Lord’s return. In short, Christ cannot come back until we get a specific job done.

 

This thinking is seen in some of the modern missions efforts. The thought of reaching the world by a certain date is based on the need to evangelize the world so the Lord can return.

 

DISPENSATIONALSIM

 

The system of eschatology that is opposite to Covenant Theology is dispensationalism. Dispensationalism sees a difference between Israel and the Church. The premillennialist will be a dispensationalist.

 

Dispensationalism teaches that God deals with man in different ways in different periods of time. We will look into this teaching in more detail later, however to prove that God deals differently in different periods of time is seen in the fact that the Old Testament saint was required to bring animal sacrifices for his sin, while we in the church age only have to confess and repent.

 

The dispensationalist will not apply the promises given to Israel to the church age saint. This system comes out of the literal interpretation of Scripture.

 

In thinking of many of these terms a list might help to solidify things in your mind. Normally if the person is premillennialist he will be those things listed below, and if a person is an ammillennialist he will be those things listed below that position.

 

 

PREMILLENNIALISTS

 

 

AMMILLENNIALISTS

 

 

LITERAL   INTERPRETATION

 

 

ALLEGORICAL   INTERPRETATION

 

 

DISPENSATIONALIST

 

 

COVENANT   THEOLOGIAN

 

 

ISRAEL   AND THE CHURCH DIFFER

 

 

BLEND   ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH

 

 

 

We trust that this overview will be helpful in placing the following studies into some perspective. It is similar to writing. If you have an outline to follow you know where you have been and where you are going. The information coming in can be placed where it belongs in time.

 

Reviewing this overview from time to time might be helpful for the newcomer to eschatology. It also might help the old timer to review what he has forgotten.

 

Perhaps a time line would be of value to the reader.

 

God

Creation

Fall

Abraham

Saul

David

Solomon

Prophets

Christ born

Church Age

Tribulation

Old Testament Saints Raised

Kingdom

Great White Throne

Eternity

 

If you reproduce this layout on a separate piece of paper, you can then make notes as you go through your study.

 

 

INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY OF ESCHATOLOGY

 

The doctrine of the end times is not a subject that has been given the amount of study that some of the other sections of theology have been given.

 

The doctrine of Christology, for example went through many hashings and rehashings over the first few centuries, and we still aren’t completely done. We haven’t changed anything major in many years, yet sharpen the doctrine a bit from time to time.

 

Eschatology has not undergone that process. In recent years many have been doing some study, and many positions have been drawn. These positions are being redefined and revamped all the time. There are new positions coming along from time to time, because some have found systems that have a better basis than some of the old thoughts.

 

Eschatology has been viewed as an extension of Soteriology at times. It is the final step in the overall program of salvation.

 

Others have just tacked it on to the end of their theology, because they know it needs covering, yet they don’t know where to put it. In recent times it has become a section of theology by itself.

 

Erickson mentions some possible reasons for the rise in interest in eschatology in recent times. I have adapted and added to his thoughts in case his volume is not available to you. (Erickson, Millard J., “CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY”; Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1985, P 1149ff)

 

1. The other divisions of theology are fairly well set, and the area of end times is fairly open to new study and development.

 

2. The entire western world is interested in the future. Corporations are into futurism studies and predications so they can plan and market accordingly. Their continued existence is based on knowing what to do in the future. Indeed churches are realizing that they should be doing this so they can minister adequately in the future. The interest in the future will naturally create an interest in the far future. Many unsaved people have read Lindsay’s books on the future just because they were interested in the future.

 

3. In the non-western world there is gloom and doom and nothing to look forward to in this life, thus many are interested in what the future may hold. There is a hope that things will become better. The third world church, is interested in the future times to know what is about to happen. It is a growing church and for the most part the end times information is new to them and their people.

 

4. The Socialism and Communism of our own day that predicts a takeover of the world by their system of government may have been part of the reason for American interest in end times studies. This reason may be a historic reason soon with the seeming decline in Communism.

 

5. The threat of nuclear extinction, of winter scenarios, etc., that see the earth being destroyed by man, would naturally move some to look into the end times teachings of the Word.

 

6. Pastors want answers to the questions that their people are bringing to them. The alarmists that they read and see on the television are creating doubt and questions in the minds of people.

 

There are all varieties of interest in end times. Some people are real nuts and give all their efforts over to this study, while others could care less about the subject.

 

I had an employer that was a Lutheran. He asked me one day about the millennium and when it would be. I explained to him what I believed and gave him some charts. I warned him that I was sure his church would not teach this and that he might want to talk with his pastor about it. He asked his pastor one evening about what he thought about the millennium. His pastor replied, “We’re all going to be dead and gone anyway, so why worry about it.” That was the total information that he had to share.

 

Somewhere we must find some middle ground to live on. We need to know what is coming and how it affects our lives, but there are many other things in Scripture that we also need to know.

 

 

Erickson also mentions in his book that he knows of college and seminary professors that conveniently never get to the prophetic books in survey classes, and others that teach theology that never get to section on eschatology. This is sad, for there is a lot of information in the Word that is prophetic and yet unfulfilled. It is information that we should be dealing with.

 

I will warn you up front that some schools are not teaching any school of thought. They give you all the ideas and allow you to sort through the information Many years ago in a sermon one of the prominent Bible college presidents made the comment that he made it a habit to ask any graduate he meets, where they stand eschatologically. He stated that very few from one of our leading seminaries know where they stand. They can give you a run down on all positions, but they have not settled on anything in particular.

 

We will see that the different views of eschatology will generally vary in certain directions.

 

1. There are some that see the prophetic information as present and others see it as future.

 

The amillennialist and postmillennialist see things as going on at this time rather than in the future as the premillennialist views it.

 

2. There is either an optimistic view or pessimistic view of the years to come. The amillennialist and post millennialist see the future as getting brighter and brighter till all is completed. On the other hand the premillennialist sees the future as becoming worse and worse till the Lord comes.

 

3. The end of things will either come from man, his becoming better and better, and his bringing about all good on earth, or as the premillennialist states, God will bring all things to pass in His own time.

 

4. The Old Testament promises are in the process of being fulfilled or, as the premillennialist sees it, they are yet future and will only come to pass in the end time.

 

 

5. Is it the church that will finally be uplifted and honored in the end, or is Israel going to be the focus of the end time activities? The premillennialist sees Israel being the only focus of the end times while others view it as God working with the church through to the end.

 

A chart should help to visualize these differences.

 

Topic

Premillennialist

 

Ammillennialism

 

Prophetic   Texts

 

Future   Time

 

Present   Time

 

View Of Coming Years

 

Pessimistic

 

Optimistic

 

Ultimate   Good

 

From   God

 

Man’s   Efforts

 

Prophetic   Promises

 

Yet   Future

 

Fulfilled   Now

 

Ultimate Prophetic Result

 

Israel   Lifted Up

 

Church   Lifted Up

 

 

 

There has been over the years some changes of thinking concerning the end times. If you are interested in further study concerning liberal thought you might try Erickson p 1154 ff. He gives some of their thinking.

 

With this introduction we need to move on into our study. We will look briefly into the purpose of Christ’s first coming.

 

In Mark’s gospel he recorded the Lord’s words, “…The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe the gospel.” Mark 1:15

 

Christ told his listener two things in this verse that are closely related, indeed the two are inseparable. First of all He mentioned that a time had been fulfilled, which He states is the reason the kingdom of God is at hand. The kingdom is on their doorstep and it is because a period of time has been fulfilled.

 

 

Just what time was the Lord speaking of? In Daniel nine there is a text that we want to introduce to you. We won’t go into great detail because others have covered this topic many times in good detail.

 

Daniel in 9:24-17 mentions some prophetic information which Christ used in Mark 1:15. Let us take a look at Daniel.

 

“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

 

“Know, therefore, and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah, the Prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

 

“And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself; and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary, and the end of it shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.”

 

We want to notice some items in this passage.

 

The portion that states, “going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem….” relates to the edict of Ezra 1 which allowed the return of Jews to Jerusalem. They returned specifically to begin the rebuilding of the city. This was in 445 B.C. (See Note At The End Of The File)

 

The statement, “the street shall be built again, and the wall” relates to the fact that the construction was completed. This event is recorded in Nehemiah 6:15 and 12:27 This completes one week of prophetic time which is seven years.

 

Another period of time is mentioned when Daniel records, “And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off” which speaks of Christ being crucified. The threescore and two weeks works out to be the exact amount of time between the completion of the walls and the time

when Christ speaks of the Jews “day” (Luke 19:42) on the occasion of His weeping over Jerusalem. He has entered Jerusalem on the donkey knowing that the nation has rejected Him, His message, and His salvation. Within hours of this time He tells the disciples that it is time for Him to be crucified.

 

Dr. Pentecost in “Things To Come” works through this timing in detail if you care to do further study on the subject.

 

The time is fulfilled — the kingdom is at hand — “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace.” (Lu 19:42) Christ knew that He was fulfilling Daniel nine, but He also knew that His people had rejected Him — their day had come and gone without their reacting properly.

 

The point of all this is to show that Christ was offering the Old Testament kingdom to the Jews at that time, but because of their rejection He did not set it up. Indeed there is one week of prophetic time left in Daniel nine that we will see later is the seven year tribulation when the Jews DO turn to their God and the Millennium then is set up for the Jewish people at the end of the tribulation.

 

There are other phrases in Daniel nine that are of importance also. “bring in everlasting righteousness” — Look at Matthew 3:15; “to anoint the most Holy” — Look at Matthew 3:16.

 

All was set to continue on with the last week of Daniel’s prophecy, but things were placed on hold for a time. This created the Church Age in which we are now living in. I would like to repeat what you have read before, that this was not a surprise party for God — He had all of this planned out in advance.

 

A pastor in Denver pointed out a problem in what is said in this file. I state in this file, “….relates to the edict of Ezra 1 which allowed the return of Jews to Jerusalem. They returned specifically to begin the rebuilding of the city. This was 445 B.C.”

 

Technically this is incorrect. The Ezra 1 edict is not 455 B.C., but rather 538 B.C. The 455 date is the correct date for the beginning of the prophetic weeks of Daniel, but the edict should not have been the Ezra 1 edict. SORRY.

 

 

Some info to clarify the chronology of this topic:

 

Time Line:

 

This is a compilation of several sources.

 

538 BC

 

First Return under Zerubbabel (have seen 536 BC also) One author shows a return in 538 and Zerub. leaving in 537. Ezra 1.14; 6.3-5; 2 Chronicles 36.22-23

 

 

 

 

Temple completed. Ezra 6.16

516 BC

 

 

458 BC

 

Second Return under Ezra. Ezra 7-10. (I’ve seen 459 on this as well.)

 

445 BC

 

Third Return Under Nehemiah. Nehemiah 1-13.

 

Dr. Prewitt suggests the following dates for the kings of this era:

 

521 BC                  Darius I

 

486 BC                 Xerxes I

 

465 BC                 Artaxerxes I

 

425 BC                 Xerxes II (Some List This Man As 424-423)

 

425 BC                 Sogdianuus

 

405 BC                 Artaxerxes II

 

359 BC                 Artaxerxes III

 

338 BC                 Arses

 

336 BC                 Darius III

 

 

MISC INFO GATHERED FROM READING

 

Walvoord in Daniel The Key To Prophetic Revelation suggests four decrees.

 

1. Cyrus for the building of the temple/II Chron. 36.22-23; Ezra 1.1-4

 

2. Darius confirmed Cyrus decree/Ezra 6.6-12 (Leupold suggests 517 BC)

 

3. Artaxerxes/Ezra 7.11-26 (Leupold suggests 458 BC)

 

4. Artaxerxes for the city/Neh 2.1-8 (Leupold suggests 445 BC)

 

Leupold in Exposition Of Daniel held that Cyrus had the city in mind when he set his decree. The temple was the focal point of the decree, but that the city was assumed as part of the temple project. (The number of people involved would have required the building of many houses for people to live in while the temple was built.

 

“decree of Cyrus mentions the temple and implies the city; the passage in Daniel mentions the city and implies the eternal temple.” (P 419)

 

He agrees with the 538 BC year for the decree of Cyrus.

 

He suggests that the final command recorded in Nehemiah 2.7-8 is just a lumber order, so to speak, to fulfill the work that had been in progress for years.

 

Pentecost in Things To Come p 244 mentions, “When we turn to the decree of Artaxerxes, made in his twentieth year, recorded in Nehemiah 2:1-8, for the first time is permission granted to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. This then becomes the beginning of the prophetic time appointed by God in this prophecy.” This is in the context of stating that none of the other decrees specify the city to be rebuilt.

 

He mentions that from secular history we can date this as the month of Nisan BC 445. He also shows with comments from Sir Robert Anderson in The Coming Prince that the 483 years fits perfectly with the triumphal entry of the Lord into Jerusalem to proclaim His Messiahship. (p 246)

 

 

To recap. I goofed, I was wrong, I was not correct. Actually, I included this mistake on purpose so that I could one day prove that I am not perfect. HA.

 

Thanks for pointing out my problem Dave.

 

 

ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH

 

We need to understand that God has one overall program designed to bring glory to Himself, while within that context He deals with different sub- programs. Two of these sub-programs are Israel and the church.

 

God did not create the heavens and the earth and then create Israel. Israel came along much later in history. He had dealings with man long before He made His promises to Abraham which resulted in Israel. Then generations later the church came into being.

 

The basis of dispensationalism is the difference between Israel and the church. There is a difference and that difference must be maintained as you read and interpret the Bible. If the distinction is not maintained, it will result in confusion and error.

 

I must admit that most denominations and groups follow the practical aspect of distinguishing between Israel and the church. None of them bring blood sacrifices. They would reject the thought that Israel and the church are separate however.

 

May I remind you of the three parts to the “sine qua non” of Dispensationalism? Sine qua non is Latin for “without which not,” or something that is indispensable to a belief or item. For example liquid is a sine qua non for a cake. There are three items which the dispensationalist will believe if he is going to be a dispensationalist. First, the dispensationalist holds to a difference between Israel and the church. Second, the dispensationalist holds to a plain, easy interpretation of Scripture. Finally the dispensationalist holds that God’s overall program for all ages is the bringing of glory to Himself. (Salvation is one of the manifestations of that overall program of glory.)

 

TOPIC

 

ISRAEL

 

CHURCH

 

BIRTH

 

PHYSICAL (BORN A JEW)

 

SPIRITUAL (BORN AGAIN)

 

PROMISE

 

LITERAL   (LIVING)

 

SPIRITUAL

 

 

 

POSITION IN THE KINGDOM

 

DEAD — RULING LIVING — RULED

 

RULING

 

POSITION TODAY

 

GOD’S   PEOPLE

 

GOD’S CHILDREN

 

 

 

(SET   ASIDE)

 

 

 

SEED OF ABRAHAM

 

PHYSICAL

 

SPIRITUAL

 

ABRAHAM

 

HEAD   OF ISRAEL

 

SPIRITUAL FATHER

 

LAND

PHYSICAL

 

RULING GLORIFIED BODIES

NATIONALITY

 

JEWISH   NATION

 

FROM ALL NATIONS

 

SALVATION

 

LOOKING TOWARD CHRIST

 

UNDER CHRIST’S BLOOD

GOD’S DEALINGS

 

AS   A NATION

 

AS   INDIVIDUALS

 

GOD’S GOVERNING SYSTEM

MOSAIC   LAW

 

GRACE

 

TRIBULATION

 

WILL GO THROUGH

 

TAKEN OUT BEFORE

 

HOLY   SPIRIT

 

HELPING BELIEVERS AT TIMES

INDWELLING AT ALL TIMES

 

STANDING

 

UNDER   PROMISE

 

UNDER   GRACE

 

 

 

GOD’S MEANING TO THE BELIEVER

ALMIGHTY   GOD

 

GOD THE FATHER

 

CHRIST

 

KING   OF ISRAEL

 

HEAD   OF CHURCH

 

DIVINE   POWER

 

NONE

SPIRIT EMPOWERED

 

CHRIST’S RETURN

 

IN POWER AND GLORY

 

QUIETLY TO RECEIVE US

 

INTERCESSION

 

PRIESTHOOD

 

PRIESTHOOD OF ALL BELIEVERS

 

 

We’ve seen multiple items which show that the church and kingdom are different and separate. The kingdom for all practical purposes is Israel.

 

From this we can apply our study of contrasts to our interpretation of scripture. They, Israel and the church, are different and should be treated as such. The promises of the kingdom or to Israel are not ours to claim. We are in the church and should seek those promises aimed at the church for use in our daily life.

 

It could be easily observed that the bulk of Scripture is directly aimed at Israel, though we can find much application in that majority for use in the church age. We cannot, however, take each promise of God to Israel for ourselves.

 

Some texts to consider:

 

Acts 3:12 shows that Peter viewed the church people as separate from Israel.

Acts 4:8, 10 show distinction between the people of the church and Israel. Acts 5:21 shows a difference between some in the church and the children of Israel.

 

 

Romans 9:3, 4 show that Paul felt there was a difference between himself, a Jew, and his fellow Jews.

 

1 Corinthians 10:32 shows the distinction very nicely.

 

 

INTERPRETATION

 

When I move into a study of interpretation, I am reminded of a cartoon I saw once. The picture is of a little wimpy person who is standing by a huge strapping motorcycle person, with a skull and crossbones on his leather jacket. The little person says something to the effect that he is sorry but he will have to interpret the other man’s last remark as a compliment.

 

Interpretation has always been a little subject to the context. In the late 1900’s most believers find that their context allows them to sidestep the Bible’s command to greet one another with a holy kiss. We relegate that portion to only the apostolic time, or any time other than ours.

 

There are different methods of interpretation. The technical name for these systems of interpretation is Hermeneutics. The purpose of any of these systems is to learn the meaning of the Word of God. The types of hermeneutics vary, however the main two are literal and allegorical. We will look at these two types.

 

We need to understand that your eschatological system will probably be determined by which system of hermeneutics you chose. The allegorical method leads to Amillennialism and Postmillennialism, while the literal method leads to Premillennialism.

 

May I illustrate why the method you use is important? Turn to Revelation 1:14-16 and interpret it.

 

Using the allegorical method I would say it is a sword swallowing albino with sunburned feet, dressed in his bahai robe. A former student of mine claimed that it was an old time bath tub with brass feet in which the water is running. Neither of these interpretations can be proven correct, so we have a very serious problem in interpretation. Whose interpretation do we follow? Indeed, your interpretation might well be completely different that the two mentioned.

 

As a sidelight, it might be mentioned that when literal interpreters enter the book of Revelation, they usually leave all principles of interpretation behind. They usually end up using the allegorical method rather than the literal method. Just one brief example. I read a commentary on Revelation written during World War II and the creatures coming from the abyss were identified as the bombers of that war. A more modern commentary lists these creatures as the Huey helicopters of the Viet-Nam era. When a person leaves literal interpretation they leave themselves open for all sorts of discussion and confusion.

 

1. THE ALLEGORICAL METHOD OF INTERPRETATION

 

Ramm defines this system as follows: “Allegorism is the method of interpreting a literary text that regards the literal sense as the vehicle for a secondary, more spiritual and more profound sense.” (Ramm, Bernard; “Protestant Biblical Interpretation”; Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1970, p 21)

 

In this method the historical and literal sense of a text is ignored, while the interpreter goes on to some deeper meaning. The use of this method allows for easy proof of different religious views and systems of thought.

 

Pentecost makes a statement that on the surface may be a little strong however it is worth considering. “It would seem that the purpose of the allegorical method is not to interpret Scripture, but to pervert the true meaning of Scripture, albeit under the guise of seeking a deeper or more spiritual meaning.” (Taken from the book, Things To Come by J. Dwight Pentecost. Copyright 1958 by Dunham Publishing. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. p 5)

 

This method sees very little historical importance to the text. The method may even ignore the original words and meaning entirely, while looking only to the message that those words convey. The method would see the words of scripture as the vehicle that carries the deeper spiritual truth. They seem to feel that scripture is a dump truck that is carrying the load of spiritual information to you the reader, and interpreter.

 

There are some dangers with the allegorical method. I will quote from Pentecost for our headings in the first three items (p 5-6) and add a fourth. (Taken from the book, Things To Come by J. Dwight Pentecost.

 

 

Copyright 1958 by Dunham Publishing. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.)

 

1. “it does not interpret Scripture.”

 

Terry states: “…it will be noticed at once that its habit is too disregard the common signification of words and give wing to all manner of fanciful speculation. It does not draw out the legitimate meaning of an author’s language, but foists into it whatever the whim or fancy of an interpreter may desire. As a system, therefore, it puts itself beyond all well-defined principles and laws.” (Terry, Milton S.; “Biblical Hermeneutics”; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, no copy right, p 224)

 

If the authors of Scripture had thoughts to convey, would they cloud these thoughts in a menagerie of words? NO.

 

2. “the basic authority in interpretation ceases to be the Scriptures, but the mind of the interpreter.”

 

If the man decides what the meaning is then the Scripture, and the authors of Scripture can give the man nothing by which he may interpret. He is on his own to do as he would please with the Word.

 

To think that some men are setting the Word of God aside for the

Preferred Thoughts Of Man.

 

3. “…one is left without any means by which the conclusions of the interpreter may be tested.”

 

Who is correct? Who determines if I am correct, or if you are correct?

 

I sat in a study group in a fundamental church one evening. There were about 25 present. The leader read one of the Beatitudes and asked what it meant. Almost everyone had some thought about the meaning of the text. The study ended when the leader said, “Well I’m not sure which of these ideas is the correct meaning, but I’m sure one of them is.” There can never be any proven valid interpretation.

 

If God wanted to communicate with man through the Word and could do no better than that, then He is not a God with which we should desire communication.

 

 

4. It perverts Scripture.

 

Example: One author, when interpreting a passage concerning Joseph fleeing from Potifer’s wife, surmised that Joseph had many mental hang ups concerning sex, and that his attitudes toward sex were very mixed up.

 

Allis (an amillennialist I believe) is quoted in “Things To Come.” His thoughts are recorded in relation to the idea that the system is in danger of doing damage to the meaning of the Scripture. “Whether the figurative or “spiritual” interpretation of a given passage is justified or not depends solely upon whether it gives the true meaning. If it is used to empty words of their plain and obvious meaning, to read out of them what is clearly intended by them, then allegorizing or spiritualizing is a term of reproach which is well merited.” (Pentecost, J. Dwight; “Things To Come”; Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958, p 6 quoting from “Prophecy And The Church” By Allis, Oswald T. p 17)

 

Let us look at some further examples of allegorical interpretation.

 

Isaiah 11:6-9 mentions that the lamb and wolf will be together. An allegorist could say that this was Paul and Barnabus, and that Barnabus is trying to get along with the wolf Paul. Someone prove that this interpretation is incorrect.

 

Ezekiel 37:16-18 speaks of two sticks with two names on them. One of the names is Joseph and of course the Mormon Church mentions that the Joseph is Joseph Smith. This is their basis for bringing all of his false teachings into a Biblical context. In truth the text speaks of Israel and Judah being reunited. (See vs. 19-22)

 

The allegorist believes that Israel in the Old Testament is the church now, and that all the promises for Israel are being fulfilled in the church today.

 

If that is true, then God promised me a chunk of the promised land. I want the corner of Tel’Aviv and Jericho for my mansion. That is in the upper middle class section of Jerusalem, mind you.

 

Luke 10:30-37 the account of the good Samaritan might be interpreted like this:

 

 

The man is Adam; The robbers illustrate the Devil; The priest depicts the Law; The Levite represents the Prophets; The Good man would probably be Christ; The Beast would be the physical body of Christ; The Inn is the Church and the 2 pence could be Christ and the Father. I think that you are beginning to get the picture.

 

2. THE LITERAL METHOD OF INTERPRETATION

 

A. Defined

 

Literal interpretation is giving to the words the same meaning they had when they were originally spoken or recorded. This demands that we attempt to determine how the term was used in the time when it was used. This would be the definition as well as the way in which it was used.

 

The system is known as the grammatical-historical method of interpretation. This is due to the fact that both the grammar and historical setting are important to the proper interpretation.

 

Ramm states:

 

“The customary, socially-acknowledged designation of a word is the literal meaning of the word.

 

“The ‘literal’ meaning of a word is the basic, customary, social designation of that word. The spiritual or mystical meaning of a word or expression is one that arises after the literal designation and is dependent upon it for its existence.

 

“To interpret literally means nothing more or less than to interpret in terms of normal, usual, designation. When the manuscript alters its designation the interpreter immediately shifts his method of interpreting.”

(Ramm, Bernard; “Protestant Biblical Interpretation”; Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1970, p 64)

 

B. Evidence Of The Literal Method:

 

Pentecost summarizes Ramm’s comments on literal interpretation. (Taken from the book, All The Doctrines Of The Bible by Herbert Lockyer. Copyright 1964 by Zondervan Publishing House. Used by permission. p 10.) Ramm’s comments are located on p 123ff in his tenth printing of

 

 

Protestant Biblical Interpretation”; Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1970, if you would like to study further. We will use these comments as a basis for further comments.

 

1. “That the literal meaning of sentences is the normal approach in all languages.”

 

There is no known society that communicates in allegories. When a person says something, it is interpreted literally. Indeed, a society could not function if everyone was interpreting what others said to their own allegorical desire.

 

2. “That all secondary meanings of documents, parables, types, allegories, and symbols, depend for their very existence on the previous literal meaning of the terms…”

 

We cannot understand allegories unless we understand the text in which they appear in a literal sense.

 

Parables often are interpreted within their context so we can KNOW their meaning from the text instead of our imagination.

 

3. “That the greater part of the Bible makes adequate sense when interpreted literally.”

 

Even the book of Revelation can be viewed in a literal sense unless the context states that some other mode of view is to be used. For example, a phrase such as “it was like unto” would alert the reader that the item to be described is “like,” not an exact replica.

 

4. “That the literalistic approach does not blindly rule out figures of speech, symbols, allegories, and types; but if the nature of the sentence so demands, it readily yields to the second sense.”

 

In John 1:29, “Behold the Lamb of God” we see a figure of speech. John the Baptist did not mean a little woolly animal that came to be baptized. He was depicting Christ as the Lamb that would die for the sins of the world. Psalm 98:8 mentions “Let the floods clap their hands….” This is obviously not literal. You might look up Isaiah 55: 12 for another example.

 

Let me give you a modern illustration: “John is black.” Please interpret that for me. The allegorically method might suggest that John has

 

 

psychological problems, and that he has a very dark personality. The literal method on the other hand would submit that he is a Negro. This is from our view today, however this literal interpretation may change with a number of items.

 

Historical Setting: He may have been a chimney sweep in past days. Geographically: He may be a coal miner if he’s in the south. Contextually: John is black since he fell into the vat of ink.

Do you get the point? The historical setting, the geographical setting and the contextual settings may well vary your interpretation of a certain statement.

 

5. “That this method is the only sane and safe check on the imaginations of man.”

 

When we remind ourselves of the suggested interpretations of John’s vision of Christ in Revelation 1”14-16, we must admit that insanity would reign if we interpreted allegorically.

 

6. “That this method is the only one consonant with the nature of inspiration. The plenary inspiration of the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit guided men into truth and away from error. In this process the Spirit of God used language, and the units of language (as meaning, not as sound) are words and thoughts. The thought is the thread that strings the words together. Therefore, our very exegesis must commence with a study of words and grammar, the two fundamentals of all meaningful speech.”

 

The idea is this, if the Bible we hold is to be the message from God to man then the logical method of knowing what it means is to assume that God communicated it to man in a manner that would be consistent with his understanding, and not in a cloaked form that we cannot immediately understand.

 

Probably one of the prime examples of literal interpretation and fulfillment would be the prophecy against Tyre in Ezekiel 26. A study of history will show that this prophecy was fulfilled very precisely and very literally.

 

 

Within the literal camp we realize there are some methods of writing that the authors of scripture used which can alter how we view a particular text. We will take a brief look at these.

 

1. Hyperbole: To use exaggeration to draw attention to a point. For example: “I’m going to die if I don’t get a coke.” A Biblical example of this is seen in Psalm 6:6, “All the night make I my bed to swim: I water my couch with my tears” See also Psalm 78:27; 107:26.

 

2. Anthropomorphism: This is the practice of assigning some body part to God to show one of His attributes. Psalm 31:2, “Bow down thine ear to me” We know that God has no ears, for He is a spiritual being, yet we know that He hears us when we pray. Also see Psalm 11:4; 18:15; 32:8.

 

3. Implication: The use of an item that illustrates the feeling you want to convey. In Psalm 22:16, “For dogs have compassed me” we see that the enemy has surrounded the psalmist and his view of these enemies is one of fear that he might have from a pack of dogs. (Jeremiah 4:7; Matthew 15:13 also.)

 

4. Metaphor: This is a comparison of two things where one is said to be the other. Psalm 84:11; “For the Lord God is a sun and shield” This implies that God is light and protection. John 10:9, “I am the door” — Christ declares with this phrase that He is 7ê3 çäthe entrance through which man must approach God and not that He is wood and hinges. Hosea 7:8, “Ephraim is a cake not turned” He is half baked. NO. Ephraim is a man — not flour and water. (Psalm 23:1; 84:11; 91:4 also.)

 

5. Metonymy: The using of one noun in place of another to describe a similarity between the two. Psalm 73:9, “Their tongue walketh through the earth” This implies that wrong speech is heard everywhere. (Psalm 5:9; 18:2; 57:9)

 

6. Zoomorphism: A zoomorphism is the ascribing of an animal part to God so the reader can understand some concept about God. Psalm 17:8, “Hide me under the shadow of thy wings” This depicts the protection offered to the believer by God. (Psalm 36:7; 63:7; 91:4)

 

7. Rhetorical Question: The use of a question that requires the reader to accept or reject a fact. Psalm 106:2, “Who can utter the mighty acts of the Lord? Who can shew forth all his praise?” The implication is that no one can do either. (Psalm 35:10; 56:7; 94:6)

 

8. Simile: The simile is used to compare two similar items. Psalm 1:3, “He shall be like a tree planted by rivers of water” would indicate that the “He” is going to thrive as the well watered tree. (Psalm 1:4; 5:12; 17:8; 131:2)

 

9. Personification: Giving a characteristic of a human to some inanimate object. Psalm 35:10, “All my bones shall say, Lord, who is like unto thee” This implies the inner depths of the psalmist. (Psalm 77:16; 96:11; 104:19)

 

C. Advantages Of The Literal Method:

 

Pentecost lists several advantages of the literal method from Ramm and then adds some of his own. I will paraphrase and combine these.

 

1. This method attempts to base its findings on facts and not the whims of man’s mind. Facts gained from “grammar, logic, etymology, history, geography, archaeology, theology….” (Ramm)

 

2. The method requires similar controls upon interpretation to those controls that are imposed upon science. The information must be based upon fact.

 

3. The method has literally opened the scriptures since the reformation when Luther and others realized that the Word had a message for all of mankind. Many have followed through in history by using this method.

 

4. The method becomes its own standard of authority. The Word becomes the authority and not the theological system or whims of a man. The interpretation is compared with other Scripture instead of a theological system for correctness.

 

5. We are free to offer the Word to the common person that can read and understand it, instead of limiting its interpretation to only those that are trained in the mystic method of finding that illusive true meaning behind the words.

 

 

In short the allegorical method can only be limited by the number of people interpreting. They can each go his or her own way and none can disprove the other.

 

GUIDES TO THE LITERAL METHOD

 

1. Interpret using all tools available. Meaning, grammar, logic, culture, geography and all others.

 

2. Interpret contextually.

 

3. Interpret figuratively only when necessary.

 

4. Interpret in light of how the scripture interprets. Look to see if the context has the Lord’s interpretation included, before you go into long dissertations of error.

 

I trust that this has been adequate to convince all to interpret literally. When we read the newspaper we interpret literally, when we read road signs, we interpret literally and in all of life we interpret literally unless there is something in the context which indicates we should do differently. So as we approach the most important Book in all of life, we must be consistent and interpret literally.

 

It would seem that the application of this section if obvious. The method of interpretation is critical to a proper understanding of scripture, thus be sure that your method is correct.

 

By the same token, you might be sure that your teachers and church leaders use the same method, rather than a method that could lead your church off into false doctrine.

 

There is the thought of your own family as well. As you take time to teach your children, be sure that you tell them how to interpret the Bible. This is a major doctrine they will grasp quite easily. They understand you because they already interpret literally and would see any other method of interpretation as foolish.

 

Teach the method in your Sunday School as well. All believers need to know this doctrine.

 

 

Finally, know that any method other than the literal method will lead you into false doctrine. You may also know that if you run into someone that is not interpreting literally that you are talking to someone that holds to false doctrine. BEWARE.

 

 

THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN AND THE KINGDOM OF GOD

 

Before you begin this section there is an assignment that would add to your overall study in this area. In appendix five you will find a listing of all of the references to the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God. Take time to look these references over for yourself. Find out what the two kingdoms are in your own mind before going on with the study.

 

There are several thoughts on the relationship between the two terms, Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom of God. A few charts will depict these thoughts:

 

 

 

Kingdom Of Heaven      = Profession

 

 

 

 

 

Kingdom Of God    = Possession

 

 

This view would see the two kingdoms as existing at the same time (The Millennium) with the distinction that one contains only believers, while the other would have both saved and lost for occupants.

 

 

 

Kingdom Of God     = Eternal, All Creation

 

 

 

 

 

Kingdom Of Heaven    = Earth And Man Only

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This position would view the Kingdom of God as the rule of God over His entire creation of all eternity, while the Kingdom of Heaven would be His rule over man and the earth during the time beginning with creation and ending with the start of eternity.

 

Others would picture the two kingdoms as two overlapping circles. While there are differences there are similarities where the two kingdoms overlap. Others would see no distinction between the two terms and would use them interchangeably.

 

J. Lewis Smith reportedly held that the two kingdoms were the same and that the kingdom was equal to the church. He felt that John The Baptist began proclaiming the kingdom, and that it came into being at Pentecost. He felt that it would run through the return of the Lord.

 

The “International Standard Bible Encyclopedia” suggests that the terms are completely interchangeable. The author of the article equates the term heaven and God. The two are the same in his thinking.

 

Larkin suggests that the kingdom of heaven is earthly — the Millennial rule of Christ on earth. The kingdom of God will be merged into God’s eternal, heavenly, and universal kingdom, the kingdom of God. Ironside, as I read him, viewed the kingdom of God as the eternal kingdom, while viewing the kingdom of heaven as the period from the ascension to the second coming. Barnes sidesteps the issue as far as I can find in a brief search. Matthew Henry seems to hold the idea that the kingdom of heaven was present from the day of Pentecost and ran on into eternity.

 

This study will discuss the thought that the two kingdoms are referring to the Messianic — 1000 year kingdom in the end times, while understanding there is a slight difference in the two.

 

SOME TERMS TO CONSIDER

 

Millennial Kingdom: This is the kingdom of the end times which comes to us under different terms: The Millennium, the Davidic kingdom restored, the 1000 year reign of Christ on earth and at times the mediatorial kingdom. The term mediatorial seems best reserved for the idea which follows.

 

Mediatorial Kingdom: The mediatorial kingdom would be the thought of God’s rule over man, either via spokesmen or directly. This would include the rule of God through the priestly, kingly and prophetic systems, while also the rule of the church (kingdom in mystery form), and ultimately the rule of Christ in the Millennium.

 

Universal Kingdom: This is not a Biblical term but will help us understand the kingdoms, or the different ways in which God rules over man. This kingdom is the overall rule of God over all that is in His domain. This would be the pre-creation rule over the angelic host, as well as the post creation time of eternity.

 

Kingdom Of Heaven: Specifically this term is introduced in the Gospels and seems to refer to the 1000 year reign of Christ on earth in the end times. There may be three aspects to this kingdom.

 

1. The Kingdom was offered to the Jews by Christ, and was rejected by the Jews. This would have been the Messianic kingdom.

 

 

2. Some view the kingdom in existence at this time in mystery form. The kingdom in mystery form is the time between the cross and the second coming, or as we know this time — the church age.

 

3. The kingdom is future and is the Millennium. The emphasis in the gospels seems to be on the millennial kingdom.

 

Kingdom Of God: This is the kingdom of only believers that God is ruling over. Again there may be several aspects to this kingdom, though the gospel emphasis seems to be on the 1000 year reign of Christ on earth.

 

Thus, the kingdom of heaven and kingdom of God are a unique aspect of the mediatorial kingdom, while all of these are within the universal kingdom. A chart should help. [For technical reasons the author’s chart could not be reproduced here.]

 

The Kingdom Of God Is God’s Rule Over Saved People In The Millennium. John 3:3

 

The Kingdom Of Heaven Is The Rule Of Christ Over All People, Saved And Lost During The 1000 Year Kingdom.

 

The Kingdom Of God Is Delivered To God By Christ At The End Of The 1000 Years. 1 Corinthians 15:24

 

God Will Reign Forever. Revelation 11:15

 

Now we need to concentrate on the topic of the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God. There are basically four differences between the kingdom of heaven and kingdom of God.

 

1. In the Kingdom of God there is no mixture of good and bad. On the other hand the kingdom of heaven has a mixture.

 

2. The kingdom of heaven is all inclusive — all that are in under God’s control. (this includes the angels.) The kingdom of God seems to contain believers only.

 

3. The means of entrance into the kingdom of God is via the new birth, while all are automatically in the kingdom of heaven.

 

 

4. The Kingdom of God is inward and spiritual while the Kingdom of Heaven is outward and physical.

 

Biblical Evidence: The concept of the kingdom is an Old Testament concept.

 

The Kingdom of heavens is mentioned in Psalm 103:19,

 

“The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.”

 

This suggests that the rule is over lost as well as saved and is clearly in the heavenly realm.

 

The God of heaven will set up a kingdom yet future according to Daniel 2:44,

 

“And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”

 

This will be an ongoing kingdom that transcends time.

 

There are many references to God’s kingdom in the Old Testament. Zechariah 14:9,

 

“And the Lord shall be king over all the earth

in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one.”

 

This seems to be an earthly kingdom. Zechariah 14:16,

 

“And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of Tabernacles.”

 

Again, we see an earthly kingdom. Thus, we should not be surprised that the term kingdom is not defined in the New Testament. The New Testament Jew knew what was being spoken of, when people spoke of the kingdom. The thought of a coming kingdom was uppermost in the Jewish mindset.

 

Christ and John the Baptist both used the terms in the Gospels without giving definitions to them. Indeed, neither the disciples, nor the people questioned them as to what they meant. From this we must assume that the kingdom mentioned in the Old Testament is the kingdom offered by Christ and John The Baptist.

 

The question is this. Are The Two Kingdoms The Same? (Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Heaven) We need to consider this for a time.

 

PARALLEL PASSAGES IN RELATION TO TIME

 

The Gospels seem to use the two terms interchangeably.

 

1. The Preaching Of The Kingdom. Matthew 4:17, “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Mark 1:14-15

 

“Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”

 

It seems that these are the same event and both terms are used.

 

2. Mystery Of The Kingdom. Matthew 13:11 (vs. 11-17) This passage tells us that the parables were given to keep some from understanding the Mysteries of the kingdom. Mark 4:11 Is the same. Again this seems to be the same sequence of events and both terms are used. (Luke 8:10 may also be the same event.) (The order of events in Matthew depict Christ by the seashore, Christ then entered the ship, the parable of the sower, the call to hear, the purpose of teaching in parables, the beginning of the teaching on the mystery.)

 

The idea of keeping them from understanding is not a refusal on God’s part to allow them to be saved, but rather a refusal on God’s part to allow them entrance into the kingdom they had rejected. An illustration might help. The Jews were in the wilderness 40 years wandering around. This was not entirely for the purpose of punishing the Jews. It was also an opportunity for God to allow the Amorites dwelling in the promised land time to turn to God. The Israelites at the end of the forty years then entered the land destroying the Amorites, the people who God had judged due to their rejection of Him. God kept the Israelites from the Land because they were not worthy of receiving from Him that which they had rejected. Matthew 13: was a condemnation of the Jews because of their rejection.

 

3. The Preaching Of The 12 Disciples. Matthew 10:7, “And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Luke 9:2, “And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.” The events are very similar and both terms are used.

 

4. John The Baptist In Prison. Matthew 11:11,

 

“Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

 

Luke 7:28,

 

“For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

 

As before, we see the same context with the different terms used almost interchangeably.

 

PARALLEL PASSAGES IN RELATION TO TEACHING

 

1. Entrance into the kingdom: Matthew 7:21-23 mentions that entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven is by doing the will of God. Only a believer can do the will of God and understand God’s will.

 

Entrance is also linked to conversion in Matthew 18:2-3,

 

“And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

 

It is linked to acceptance in Luke 18:17,

 

“Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.”

 

Both terms used in the same context.

 

 

2. The problem of the rich: Matthew 19:23-24,

 

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

 

Mark 10:23-25,

 

“And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God. And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

 

Verse 23 of both texts are identical passages and both terms are used. Indeed in Matthew the statement is made in two ways using both terms.

 

3. The time of the Kingdom of God: Luke 16:16 seems to indicate that John the Baptist’s appearance on the scene introduced a new emphasis, that of the preaching of the Kingdom of God. (Luke 11:20; Matthew 12:28) In Christ’s time it was presented.

 

4. The poor — an integrated part of the kingdom: This may be linked to

the fact that the poor and the down trodden are often more receptive to the message of the Savior. He offered peace and good in the next life, even if there were neither in this life. (Matthew 5:3; Luke 6:20; Matthew 8:11; Luke 13:28-29)

 

5. The expectation of the kingdom: The Jews were looking and waiting for the Davidic kingdom. Mark 15:43 mentions that Joseph of Arimethia was waiting for the Kingdom of God. He was an Old Testament believer. (Luke 23:51 also)

 

6. The kingdom and the Lord’s table: Matthew 26:28-29 Christ won’t partake of it again until in “my” Father’s kingdom. (Mark 14:25 and Luke 22:18 both mention this in ref to Kingdom of God.) This Kingdom Is Yet Future.

 

 

7. The relationship of the living disciples to the kingdom: The transfiguration was a glimpse of this kingdom, which tells us that it was yet future as well as that it will be quite glorious. (Matthew 16:28; Mark 9:1; Luke 9:27)

 

THE USE OF THE TERM “KINGDOM OF GOD” OUTSIDE THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS

 

1. In John 3:3 it states that rebirth is the requirement for entrance into the kingdom. In verse 10 Nicodedemus asked Christ a question concerning the kingdom, and Christ confronted him with the fact that he taught Israel and did not understand the kingdom. This shows that the Old Testament saint should know of the kingdom.

 

2. Acts 1:3-6 shows that the kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of God are the same and yet future to the ascension.

 

3. Acts 8:12 shows there are two parts to the message.

 

“But when they believed Philippians preaching

the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.”

 

It seems that the apostles saw no clear distinction between the kingdom message and the claims of Christ. They were involved in preparing the world for the kingdom that was yet to come. Even in the last chapter of Acts, Paul is preaching the coming kingdom. (Acts 28:30-31)

 

Paul saw the kingdom as coming, yet future, and directly linked to the claims of Christ. (Acts 14:22 also shows it future.)

 

4. Acts 19:8 Shows that the message of the Kingdom of God was to the Jews.

 

5. Acts 28:23, 31 Indicates that the kingdom in question is the kingdom of the Old Testament. He spoke to them of Christ, and the kingdom from the law.

 

6. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 lists many that won’t be in the Kingdom. (Galatians 5:21 also)

 

 

MATTHEWS USE OF THE PHRASE “KINGDOM OF GOD”

 

1. Christ Used The Term When Speaking To All Jewish People. It is used in 6:33 where he is speaking to multitudes and the disciples. There is no indication that Jewish leaders were present thus indicating that the message was for the masses as well as the national leadership.

 

2. Christ Used The Term When His Power Was In Question. It is used in 12:28 when Christ is accused of casting out demons in the power of Satan.

 

3. Christ Used The Term When His Authority Was In Question. It is used in 21:23-32 when the elders and priests questioned his authority.

 

4. Christ Used The Term When His Person Was In Question. It is used in 21:43 when He is rejected by the nation of Israel.

 

5. Christ Used The Term With The Kingdom Of Heaven. It is used in 19:23-24 when He equates the term Kingdom of God with the term Kingdom of Heaven. (There may be significance in the passage following this in that the disciples in contrast have forsaken all to follow Christ.)

 

We must conclude from these items that this kingdom is of great importance to and of close connection with the Lord.

 

CONCLUSIONS

 

1. The Biblical evidence seems to indicate that the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven are referring to the same time, or kingdom, and that is the physical kingdom of Christ on earth which follows the tribulation (the Millennium).

 

2. These terms were not defined in the New Testament — just used. Both John The Baptist and Christ began their ministries with the terms as though everyone knew what they were talking about, and indeed they did. They were accustomed to the terminology from their spiritual upbringing.

 

Some might wonder — if the two are so similar why were two terms used? Matthew used the term kingdom of heaven to Jews for they were looking for an earthly kingdom, thus he stressed the “heaven” aspect to show that the kingdom was coming from heaven. Matthew may also have used it as a substitute for the term “God” which was sacred to the Jewish leaders. The other writers were not writing to the Jews so they used God. The term heaven has a different meaning to the Gentile mind of Christ’s day. The gentiles had many god’s and they could send a kingdom from heaven, however when the Gospel writers mentioned a kingdom from God they would know they were speaking of the God of Jesus.

 

3. The Kingdom of Heaven will contain both lost and saved. (The lost come from those born into the millennium.)

 

4. The Kingdom of God seems to consist of only believers.

 

5. Matthew 19:23 and Mark 10:23 show an interchange of terms within two writers view of the same statement.

 

6. Difficulty: On the one hand the scriptures show that the Kingdom of Heaven has lost and saved, while the Kingdom of God has saved only in it, yet on the other hand, scripture seems to use the terms interchangeably. Matthew 19 23; Mark 10 23. There are two possible answers:

 

a. The terms were very general in Matthew and Mark, but took on more specific meaning later in time. (Matthew preceded Luke and it is probable that Mark was the first gospel written, so it would have preceded both Matthew and Luke.) We know John was later so this leaves Matthew and Mark being written early, using the terms in a general sense, while later we have Luke and John using the terms more specifically.

 

b. The Matthew 19 and Mark 10 passages seem to show that the two terms are used interchangeably and there is no difference between the kingdoms. It is possible that the Matthew 19:23 and Mark 10:23 texts mention entry into the kingdom only, and the terms were used generally. There may well have been a distinction and they were not interested in conveying the thought of that distinction.

 

Let us end with a dispensational fundamentalist quoting a dispensational fundamentalist. Dr. Pentecost in Things To Come (P 144) quotes Lewis Sperry Chafer’s Systematic Theology Vol. VII, pp. 223-224.

 

 

“In regard to the terms kingdom of God and the kingdom of the heavens it is to be observed that, while not synonymous, they are used interchangeably. What distinctions there are not inherent in the words themselves, but in their usage in the context. Both of these terms are used to designate the millennial kingdom, the spiritual kingdom, and the mystery form of the kingdom. While we recognize the distinctions between the earthly and the eternal aspects of the kingdom program, we must guard against making the terms absolute. Only the context can determine the meaning intended to be conveyed by the terms.”

 

The need is to look at the context to see if there is a specific, while normally using the terms interchangeably.

 

 

THE SECOND COMING

 

Before we begin, I would like to raise a question for your consideration. If I could zap you into a full day without need of working for a living, without family responsibilities, without studies — No I Cannot Bring Heaven To Pass — but if I could do that for you, what would you do with your day? Go fishing, camping, shopping, buy a car, sleep, visit friends — just what would you do?

 

Okay, let us go on to our subject, and then at the end of the section we will look at this thought of “a day off.”

 

THE SECOND ADVENT

 

Cambron gives statement to the importance of the doctrine of the second coming of the Lord in Scripture.

 

“It is said that one out of every twenty-five verses of the New Testament speaks of the Second Coming, while in the Old Testament there are eight verses concerning the second Coming to every verse concerning the First Coming.” (Cambron, Mark G. D.D.; “Bible Doctrines”; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1954, p 264)

 

The term ADVENT means simply, “arrival.” Webster’s first definition is the Catholic idea of four Sundays before Christmas. We view the Christmas arrival, or advent of Christ as the first advent, and we look forward to His second advent, when He comes to take care of the program of God, and bring it to a final culmination.

 

The fact of the event is seen in the following passages.

 

a. Christ Himself spoke of the coming in relation to His preparing a place for the disciples in Heaven. This is a very joyful contemplation for the believer. His Lord and Savior is now at this time preparing an eternal abode for each of us personally.

 

What a thought. John 14:3

 

 

b. The angels spoke of it when they spoke of the Lord’s ascension. It should be noted that He will return in like manner — that is physically and visibly. This will be the second coming and not the rapture. Acts 1:11

 

c. Peter spoke of it in one of his sermons. Acts 3:20, “And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:”

 

He also spoke of the coming in his two epistles. 1 Peter 5:4, 2 Peter 1:16.

 

d. Paul spoke of the Lord’s return several times. 1 Corinthians 1:4-7; Romans 11:26; Philippians 3:20-21; Colossians 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 5; II Thess 1:7,10; 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 4:8; Tit 2:11-14.

 

Some might question some of the references that are listed. Some of them are normally listed as rapture texts. If you consider Paul and his every looking for the Lord’s return and relate that to the preaching that he did, it is not hard to think that he was speaking of the second coming rather than the rapture. The texts are prophetic of the rapture, however from Paul’s viewpoint; I believe that he was talking of the coming. We will look at this in more detail later.

 

e. The author of Hebrews spoke of it. Hebrews 9:28

 

f. James spoke of it. Acts 15:13-16; James 5:7

 

g. John spoke of it. 1 John 2:28; I John 3:2; Revelation 19:11-18.

 

h. Jude spoke of it. Jude 14

 

i. The prophets spoke of it. Jude 14; Isaiah 45:23; Ezekiel 21:25-27.

 

Years ago I ran into a Roman Catholic while doing some door to door visitation that really thrilled me for a time. As I shared the gospel with her she agreed with everything that I said. When I asked her if she had received Christ, she said that she had. I left thinking that she was probably a believer. Sometime later I discovered that the Roman Catholic receives Christ every time they go to mass. The Eucharist is Christ’s very body. The woman was talking about mass and I was talking about salvation.

 

As you talk with people be aware that their meaning for words may not be the same as your meaning. This is true in relation to the term “second advent.” It has different meanings to different people, so you need to find out what a person means. Some of the possibilities are as follows:

 

a. Some view the rapture as the second advent. Christ coming to earth to receive His own unto Himself. This may or may not be differentiated from the coming to set up the kingdom.

 

b. Others view the rapture as the introduction to the entire second advent time. The second advent includes the rapture, the tribulation, the second coming to introduce the kingdom and the kingdom age.

 

The first advent was 33 plus years long so the second one needn’t be an event, but can be a number of years in length.

 

This would be seen in two phases, as Cambron mentions (p 266). The first phase is viewed as being the rapture of the church, and the second phase the second coming in glory to set up the kingdom.

 

c. Another possibility is that the coming of Christ at the end of the tribulation is the second advent. At that time He will set up His Millennial kingdom.

 

The rapture is not the second advent in that the first advent was a coming to the earth and the second will have the same idea (a physical visible appearance). The rapture is not a coming to the earth, but only a secret coming in the clouds for the saints.

 

d. There are some that view the second advent as a spiritual coming and that it will not be a physical return of Christ. This may take a number of forms. One man that I knew held that the second coming was when the Lord comes to take a believer home (at the point of physical death). The problem with this view is that the world system as we know it can never come to an end. Christ will never come to finish up unfulfilled prophecy and earth would have to continue for eternity.

 

Chafer mentions that Dr. William Clarke held the spiritual coming view. He sees the coming of Christ in a spiritual sense — that Christ is here in His church. The new Jerusalem mentioned in the revelation is the “ideal church” and not a coming literal city. Chafer deals with the belief on page 283 and following of Vol. V. and from rapture to the consummation we have The Day Of The Lord, and following the consummation we have The Day Of God.

 

The Day Of Man: Some have suggested that from the fall to the rapture we have the day of man.

 

The Day Of The Lord, 1 Thessalonians 5:2, “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.”

 

This shows that the day of the Lord is introduced by the rapture, yet we see within the context some items that might indicate that it covers more territory. In 5:23 there may be an element of judgment for the believers, which would indicate the judgment seat of Christ.

 

Verse three could indicate the trouble of the tribulation that was to come as well, thus the term may indicate much more than just the rapture.

 

The Day Of God, 2 Peter 3:12,

 

“Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?”

 

[The author’s chart entitled The Day of God’s Program could not be inserted here for technical reasons.]

 

Day Of Christ: Philippians 2:16, 1 Corinthians 1:8, 2Corinthians 1:14

 

Day Of God: 2 Peter 3:12 (consummation)

 

Some Miscellaneous Texts And Topics For Further Study: The Day Of Jesus Christ: 1 Corinthians 5:5; Philip. 1:6

The Day Of Christ: Philippians 1:10; 2:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:2

 

The Day Of God Almighty: Revelation 16:14

 

The Day Of The Lord God: Jeremiah 46:10

 

The Day Of The Lord: Acts 2:20; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Corinthians 1:14;

1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10

 

 

We want to list some of the differences between the rapture and the second coming.

 

RAPTURE

 

2ND COMING

 

1. The devil   is still free

 

The devil will   be bound soon

 

2.   The Lord comes in the air

 

The   Lord returns to the earth

 

3. Saints go   up

 

Saints come   with Him

 

4. Living   saints translated

 

No translation

 

5.   Dead church age saints raised

 

Old Testament   saints raised

 

6. World   unchanged

 

World changed   physically

 

7. Imminent

 

Preceded   by many prophetic events

 

8. New   Testament truth

 

Old   and New Testament truth

 

9. Saved only   involved

 

Saved   and lost involved (lost will be destroyed)

 

10.   Christ coming for the church

 

Christ coming   for Israel

 

11. To remove   church

 

To establish   the kingdom

 

 

 

The fact that Christ stated that He would return is plain from John 14:1-3.

 

We might make note of the fact that one of the purposes of the Lord’s return is to gather His people unto Himself. There are other events that come along with this, but in Christ’s mind at this point in time (early in His ministry) was the gathering of His people.

 

 

THE FACTS OF THE RETURN

 

Acts 1:11 In like manner would indicate a number of items to consider.

 

a. The leaving was visible and witnessed.

 

b. The leaving was from the earth’s surface

 

c. The leaving was in a physical form.

 

d. The leaving was from the Matthew of Olives (Acts 1:12) To be in like manner, then we should look for all of the above to be true at the second coming of Christ. A literal, visible, physical return to the surface of the earth.

 

There are other references to the second coming in the Old Testament that you might want to read. Ezekiel 43:1-7; Zechariah 14:4.

 

Matthew 24:27 also mentions that it will be very visible.

 

Bancroft in his Elemental Theology (p 356 ff) lists the signs of the second coming. I will list those for you with the references that he uses. This is for your future consideration.

 

War Matthew 24:7

 

Famine Matthew 24:7

 

Earthquakes Matthew 24:7

 

Industrial unrest and lawlessness 2 Thessalonians 2:7

 

Multiplied transportation Daniel 12:4; Nahum 2:4

 

Apostasy and demonic interest 1 Timothy 4 1

Commercial signs Revelation 13:16-17

Political signs Daniel 2 & 7

Jewish sign Matthew 24:32-34

 

 

CONCLUSIONS

 

1. Turn to 1 Thessalonians 5:1 for a few moments and we will make a few observations.

 

a. Paul mentions, in verses 1-2, that they need not discuss the time of the return of the Lord. It will be as a thief in the night. They would not know when it will occur. The Lord told the disciples in the book of Acts that no man knew the schedule of the end times Acts 1:6-7. They were seeking information, but Christ gave them none, other than that the Father will take care of the schedule. (Some other refs that picture the swiftness that is in mind are: Revelation 3:3; Revelation 16:15; 2 Peter 3:10; Matthew 24:43; Luke 21:34.)

 

b. In verse 3 Paul tells them that when people cry peace and safety that they should look out for destruction is coming.

 

c. In verses 4-10 Paul lets them know that they needn’t worry of the coming, nor should they go to sleep to wait for it. They are to prepare and watch for the coming of the Lord, but they are to be busy with living until it comes.

 

He encourages them to realize that they are of the light and not of the darkness. (John 2:11; Acts 26:18 may be of interest to you along this line.)

 

d. Paul encourages them to bring one another along in the proper spiritual life so they will be properly prepared at the coming of the Lord in verses 11-23 (vs. 23) “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

I’d like to just list the things Paul encourages them to bring into their lives. Be not in darkness, let us not sleep, let us watch, be sober, put on breastplate of faith and love, put on helmet of salvation, comfort yourselves together, edify one another, know those that labor among you, know those that are over you, know those that admonish you (May I suggest that this is a strong indication that you have a responsibility to choose of your leaders and get to know them?), esteem the three above highly, be at peace among yourselves, warn the unruly, comfort the feebleminded (Who are the feebleminded? The mentally handicapped, the mentally injured, the senior citizens that are losing their ability to operate properly mentally), support the weak, be patient with all, don’t render evil for evil, follow that which is good, rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, give thanks in everything, quench not the Spirit, despise not prophesying’s, prove all things, hold fast to the good, and Abstain From All Appearance Of Evil.

 

Wow, What A List To Live By. Can you envision a church that is attempting to live according to that list? Would it not be an awesome body to behold?

 

I would like to relate a story that describes some people who were serious about their Lord’s return, and how they were living.

 

The occasion was some revival services in Alliance, NE at the Evangelical Free Church. The people involved were witness to people being saved, marriages coming back together, baptisms, and backsliders returning to their Lord. This was all due to the fact that the church people and the evangelist were serious about living their life as if the Lord could come at any time.

 

The evangelist lives as the Lord provides and does not have charges for his services. All that they receive goes to “get by” and the rest is put back into the ministry. They live in trailers and log cabins to conserve on expenses at their home base.

 

2. Let us return to our question about the day off that I would like to give you. How do those things you wanted to do relate to the fact that Christ is returning at any moment, at any time? Would you like to be doing those things when Christ returns?

 

In Light Of Christ’s Soon Return, Might We Want To Be Serving Him To The Utmost Of Our Ability?

 

I Would Think That This Would Be Our Desire.

 

We believe in the immanent return of the Lord, but we practice the someday return of the Lord.

 

 

I have often used an illustration that might help you in your thinking.

Most of us know who Mark Spock is. The Vulcan on Star Trek that is the ultimate in logic. I often suggest that congregations and classes think of a scenario which states that Mark Spock is orbiting the earth and is observing the fundamental churches of the world trying to find out what Fundamental Christianity taught. Just what would he deduce logically from the facts that he observed. Might I take the liberty to just suggest a list of possible observations?

 

Fighting, arguing, division, materialism, segregation, arrogance, pride, lack of interest in spiritual things, lack of acting on belief systems, etc. Now, just what would Mark Spock deduce? Would he ever think of the second coming of the Savior of this people?

 

I trust that as you consider the truth of the second coming that you will consider how you live. Are you living as if you could be gone tomorrow, or are you living like you are settling in for the duration of life?

 

 

THE RAPTURE

 

 

PSALM TWO FROM THE AMERICAN STANDARD VERSION

“Why do the nations rage, And the peoples meditate a vain thing? “The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel

together, Against Jehovah, and against his anointed, {saying},

 

“Let us break their bonds asunder, And cast away their cords from us.

 

“He that sitteth in the heavens will laugh: The Lord will have them in derision.

 

“Then will he speak unto them in his wrath, And vex them in his sore displeasure:

 

“Yet I have set my king Upon my holy hill of Zion.

 

“I will tell of the decree: Jehovah said unto me, Thou art my son; This day have I begotten thee.

 

“Ask of me, and I will give {thee} the nations for thine inheritance, And the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

 

“Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

 

“Now therefore be wise, O ye kings: Be instructed, ye judges of the earth.

 

“Serve Jehovah with fear, And rejoice with trembling.

 

“Kiss the son, lest he be angry, and ye perish in the way, For his wrath will soon be kindled. Blessed are all they that take refuge in him.”

 

The Psalmist spoke of a time coming when the Lord would rule a kingdom on earth. There will be much said of this kingdom before the end of this study, however there is an item of prophecy which the Old Testament is silent on. Indeed, much of the New Testament is also silent on it. The rapture or the taking out of the church is the next topic of study.

 

As we begin, we want to make known that the term “rapture” is not found in the New Testament. It is a Latin translation of the term “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 which means “seize” or “snatch”. The Latin term is “rapare”. (1 Corinthians 15:50-58; 2 Corinthians 12:1-4; Revelation 12:5)

 

The Greek term is “harpazo” which is translated “take,” “catcheth,” “pluck,” “caught away,” and “pulling” in the New Testament. There is a bit of irony in this snatching away in that the meeting of the raptured saints both dead and alive will be in the air, the domain of Satan himself. (Ephesians 2:2) The end result of this catching away will be “so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17)

 

John 14:1-3 mentions that the Lord went to prepare a place for us and that he would return for us. It is that return for us that we are speaking of. He will come to take us home to be with him during the tribulation period, and then we will return with Him at the Second Coming to assist in the kingdom.

 

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 mentions that Paul shared a mystery with the believers at Corinth. “Behold, I show you a mystery:” A mystery in the New Testament is something that has not been revealed before. Romans 16:25 shows that Christ is a mystery that was “kept secret since the world began,”

 

Our text shows that the living believers will be changed and the dead will be resurrected. The Old Testament saint knew about the coming resurrection, but what Paul shows here in 1 Corinthians is something new. (Job 19:25, Is 26:19 and Daniel 12:2 indicate that the Old Testament person knew of the resurrection.)

 

We need to look at some texts that may cause some confusion in the area of the rapture:

 

Acts 1:11

 

“…This same Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”

 

 

This is speaking of the 2nd Coming and not the Rapture, for the Lord will not return to the earth as such at the Rapture. It is mentioned that he will return in the air, but the second coming speaks of Him returning to earth.

 

Matthew 24:40-41 seems to be the rapture however it fits much better at the end of the tribulation when some will be taken in judgment and others are left on the earth to enter into the Millennial kingdom. The rapture relates to New Testament saints only, as is very evident in 1 Thessalonians 4:10, “in Christ”.

 

One other text which may need clarification is 1 Thessalonians 3:13, “at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.” (Also 1 Thessalonians 4:14 is a similar verse.) These verses speak of the fact that the souls and spirits of the New Testament saints that have been in the presence of the Lord will return with Christ at the rapture and will be reunited with the new bodies, while the living saints will be changed. The great meeting of the saints will be in the air.

 

The question that is prevalent in most theologians’ minds is when does this occur? Some throughout history have attempted to set dates for the coming of the Lord. Recently the Sword Of The Lord printed the following about one of our popular evangelists. “Promoting his new A.D. 2000 — The End? video, Van Impe says, `For the first time in my life and ministry, I’m willing to declare that this decade of destiny will bring us into close proximity to the return of Jesus Christ.’ He went on to say.

`The year 2000 holds special significance in terms of time left for mankind.’“ (Sword of the Lord, Vol. LVII, No. 22; October 25, 1991)

 

The scripture does not give us a time table for the end times so we must deduce when the different events happen. Scripture gives us a great deal of information which can help us to have a general picture of what is going happen, but we must not fall into the trap of setting dates for the beginning of these events. Indeed we should not assume, as some have,

that we can bring about the beginning of these events by works that we can accomplish.

 

 

Revelation 4:1 states,

 

“After this I looked and, behold, a door was opened in heaven; and the first voice that I heard was, as it were, of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up here, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter.”

 

Many believe this refers to the rapture of the church. The rapture will occur at this juncture in the chronology of Revelation even if you don’t view this reference as speaking of the event.

 

INDICATORS OF A RAPTURE

AS WE LOOK BACK TO THE SCRIPTURE

 

1. Israel’s Prominence In The Tribulation Demands A Rapture: Israel is the focal point of the tribulation time and there is no reason for the church to be present. (Revelation 4-20 shows the tribulation.)

 

Revelation 4:1-2, mentions,

 

“After this I looked, and, behold, a door [was] opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard [was] as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and [one] sat on the throne.”

 

The first three chapters speak of the church and 4:1-2 is a transition to the tribulation period which is contained in the following chapters. Throughout this section the Jews are in focus, though the gentiles are also present.

 

2. The Distinction Between Israel And The Church Demands A Rapture: There is always a distinction between Israel and the church throughout the New Testament. Why would the church be mixed together with Israel for seven years through the tribulation? It does not seem sensible.

 

Points to ponder:

 

a. There is no mention of the church in the tribulation.

 

b. Would Christians worship in a temple? No.

 

 

c. Romans 11 shows Gentiles being grafted in for a time, but also they will be set aside and the Jews grafted back in indicating the absence of the church as the Lord draws to a close His dealings with Israel.

 

3. The Immanent Return Of Christ Demands A Rapture: The doctrine of the immanent return of Christ requires an unexpected return, not one that is announced by seven years of trouble and destruction. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 shows the immanent return.) 1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells the believers to encourage one another. If the tribulation was what they were to face, how could they encourage one another with the fact that terrible times were coming.

 

4. The Government Of The Tribulation Demands A Rapture: During Daniel’s 70th week the earthly government comes under the control of Satan. The New Testament teaches that the believer is to be subject to the government placed over them. (Romans 13) This would place believers under the control of Satan which is inconsistent with the teaching of the New Testament.

 

5. The Silence Of The New Testament Demands A Rapture: The

New Testament writers never mention how the believer was to react to the terrors of the tribulation. The New Testament writers knew of the terribleness of that period of time. They knew texts such as, Joel 1-3; Jeremiah 30 7, and the other writings of the prophets. If they knew these terrible times were coming, why did they not help us understand what to do, and how to react to these times?

 

6. A Promise Of The Lord Demands A Rapture:

 

“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” Revelation 3:10

 

God through John promises deliverance to the church of Philadelphia from a rough time, that was yet future. If he is delivering them, then He will most likely deliver all church age believers, unless you like the partial rapture theory.

 

7. God’s Actions Demand A Rapture: God always delivers the righteous before a judgment. Let me just list three examples of such delivery. Noah from the flood. Lot from Sodom and Gomorrah. Joshua and Caleb from death in the wilderness.

 

8. The Removal Of The Holy Spirit During The Tribulation Demands A Rapture: Take a moment to read 2 Thessalonians 2:6-10. Most view the “he” in verse seven as the Holy Spirit, and He is to be taken out. In case you didn’t know, where the Holy Spirit goes, I go, for my Bible tells me that the Holy Spirit is my guarantee of resurrection. It is illogical to think that the Holy Spirit will be taken out of this world, and the New Testament believers be left behind. This would contradict the promises of Scripture that tell us that the Holy Spirit will indwell us always.

 

9. Christ’s Army Demands A Rapture: Revelation 19:11-16 tells of the second coming of the Lord with His army. Verse eight states of this army, “…arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” Verse fourteen tells us, “…clothed in fine linen, white and clean.” If you relate this terminology to the letters to the churches you will see a close similarity. (Revelation 3:4; 3:5; 3 18; Indeed 4:4 shows the elders in the same clothes, in heaven. That is another indication of rapture before the tribulation.)

 

If the church is to come with Him at His second coming, then they must be removed at some time. The logical time would be before the tribulation when the trouble begins.

 

10. Our Appointment To Salvation, Not Wrath, Demands A Rapture: 1 Thessalonians 5:9,

 

“For God hath not appointed us to wrath,

but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

We aren’t appointed to wrath, indeed why would God want to send His peculiar people through such a terrible time?

 

The question comes to mind, “Did Paul know of and teach the rapture, or did he understand only a second coming?” Reread the “rapture” texts of Paul’s with this question in mind and see what you come up with. It may be that he saw a second coming and was teaching it, but at the same time, unknown to himself, was prophesying a rapture.

 

 

The Old Testament prophets wrote down many things they did not clearly understand, thus this would be consistent in Paul’s case, and this does not detract from Paul in any way, shape, or form.

 

Indeed, did Paul even know of the tribulation? It would seem doubtful that he did. If he did, he certainly kept quiet about it. It would seem that had he known of such a mess coming, he would have mentioned it in some of his writings.

 

The rapture is seen from our vantage point, but I’m not sure it was from Paul’s. Had he had revelation on the subject, I would think that he would have mentioned it.

 

The rapture and tribulation are really a revelation of Christ through John in the book of Revelation, though the events were prophesied previous to

that revelation.

 

SOME TEXTS TO CONSIDER

 

1 Corinthians 15:51-57: In reading this text, I wonder if Paul from his good Jewish perspective was looking at the second coming when the living would be translated, and the dead would be raised to serve with the Lord in the kingdom. His entire being was filled with the gospel of the kingdom.

He was still preaching it in the last chapter of Acts (28:31), which was late in his career.

 

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17: This verse mentions that we will meet Him in the air, indicating that the Lord does not come down to the earth. Zechariah 14:5 shows Christ touching down on the earth. It would seem to some that Paul was speaking of some occurrence other than the second coming. I don’t think there is any reason to feel that Paul was inconsistent with Zechariah, in that he just did not mention all of the details of the return. He is interested in the fact there is a resurrection and it will happen when the Lord returns.

 

John 5:25-29: May we observe several things here?

 

a. There is no indication of a time frame. We have no idea when John is speaking of. It could be the rapture, but he did not know of the tribulation until many years later when he was given the Revelation.

 

 

b. Since vs. 28-29 mention righteous and lost both, it would seem that this is a general reference of the resurrections. Indeed we have judgment in the context, which would also indicate that this is a general statement of all that will go on in the end times.

 

c. It is a distinct possibility that this is a reference to the resurrection just prior to the Great White Throne. Many believe there will be some righteous that die in the Millennium and that this would be a fitting passage to show these righteous ones being raised with the lost of all time. Some to life and some to damnation.

 

d. Actually vs. 24-25 are speaking to the living that are lost when Christ was speaking and then He shifts gears to the judgment in the end time.

 

John 14:1-3: Christ will return for the apostles. When? Most view this dwelling place as the New Jerusalem which is in Revelation 21 1-2. The New Jerusalem comes down between the tribulation and the millennium.

 

Again if we see Paul speaking of a rapture we have some problems. It seems that John, when he wrote the gospel also viewed all things as centered on that second coming rather than a rapture. We see here a general statement of Christ coming for His own with no real statement of when in relation to end time’s events. Indeed it is quite possible that the New Jerusalem is ready at the rapture and that we will dwell in it till it descends.

 

OTHER REFERENCES THAT RELATE

BUT DON’T HELP SHOW THE RAPTURE IN TIME

 

Romans 8:19-23; 2 Corinthians 5:1-9; Philippians 3:11, 20-21; Hebrews 9:28; 2 Peter 3:4.

 

Did Paul know of the tribulation and of the rapture? I suspect that he did not, even though there was an element of prophecy that related to these events in what he said in scripture.

 

We know, teach and understand the principle of progressive revelation, yet at times we fail to understand scripture in light of it. Adam did not know Christ. Adam did not know of the second coming. Adam did not know of the Church. They acted and lived under what they knew. Each dispensation lived as they had knowledge. Scripture was revealed over many hundreds of years.

 

Adam and Eve were the first drops of melting snow to form a pool in the mountains. Cain and Abel were the first trickle down the mountainside. Seth made it into a small stream running through the rocks. Noah made it into a small river running into the valley. Abraham made it into a river coursing through the land. Moses was a new river which merged into the main stream. Christ added another stream to the larger flow. Paul added another tributary. John was the final addition to the flow of Scripture. He led the flow into eternity, the ocean.

 

What Paul knew may be questioned, but as you attribute information to him consider carefully the thought of progressive revelation and just what had been revealed to him.

 

SOME CONCLUSIONS

 

1. Looking backward a rapture seems very evident.

 

2. Looking forward from Paul’s time the hope was a kingdom set up by the Messiah. The Messiah accepted.

 

3. Paul, the apostles, and many Gentiles had accepted the Messiah. They wanted all to turn to the Messiah so that He would come to set up the Kingdom.

 

4. Paul knew the Old Testament. He knew that the nation of Israel would have to turn to God for the kingdom to be set up. He was looking for the kingdom to come soon. He knew Zephaniah 3:20 and its teaching of a regathering near the time of the kingdom. He was looking for a kingdom and looking for it soon.

 

5. Believers of Christ were looking for a kingdom next. Acts 1:6

 

6. The Jews that crucified Christ did so because He was claiming to be offering the Kingdom.

 

7. Christ spoke of the second coming. Matthew 24:27-31

 

 

8. The Corinthians and Thessalonians needed this soon coming concept for proper Christian living.

 

9. Paul may have been knowledgeable of the rapture, or taking out of the Church, however this is doubtful for he taught doctrine. This would have warranted more writing had he known.

 

10. Paul used the term “Church.” Church is the Greek word ekklesia. Acts 7:38 uses the same term in reference to Israel as a group. Paul did not think of a building when he used “church.” He was thinking of a group of God’s people. Man has given Church the concept of building, of something special over and above Israel. We are a kingdom in mystery form

(Matthew 13:11). Paul was shifting Judaistic beliefs to conform to a Messiah that had come. He did not switch from Judaism to some new concept of “Christianity.” They are the same. One looks for Messiah and the other worships the Messiah come. There is a difference between the two in that the church will not have the physical blessing.

 

11. John was privileged to give us hint of a new prophetic occurrence in his construction of the book of Revelation through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

 

12. Paul may have put all of the Old Testament together and seen a need for coming trouble, then surmised that God would take the righteous out, however we do not have indication of this. Paul had in mind the second coming of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, to set up His kingdom.

 

I stated before that Paul’s writings might have centered on the second coming yet held a prophetic aspect as well. Is there Bible basis for a prophecy — that is, a man talking of something in His own day, but also referring to other things future? Yes. Let’s list some examples.

 

When Ezekiel mentions the king of Tyre and Isaiah mentioned the king of Babylon, most realize there was information concerning the Devil as well. (Ezekiel 28; Isaiah 14:4ff)

 

John’s revelation to the churches of Christ’s message was of a certainty for his day, but he knew nothing of its obvious prophetic nature known now due to church history and hindsight.

 

 

In Psalm 16:8-11 David speaks from his time, situation and experience and it is identified as prophetic in Acts 2:24ff.

 

In Acts 28:26-27 Paul quotes the Old Testament (Isaiah 6:9, 10). Isaiah was giving prophecy to the Jews concerning their future. He did not know Paul. He did not know Paul would use this thought to apply to another generation of Jews in rebellion.

 

Job 19:25-26 Seems clearly to be looking to the end times yet Job was speaking to three men about the fact that he would be vindicated in the situation he was in — he would be proven righteous. Job did not have end times in mind, nor did he even know of the end times.

 

There is no indication that Paul taught the rapture, or indeed knew about it. Even the church fathers of the first and second centuries knew nothing of the rapture as far as I can see from history. Indeed compare Zechariah 14:5-9 with 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and you see that the latter may have been drawn from the former.

 

If you are interested in the church fathers see Early Christian Doctrines”;

J.N.D. Kelley; Harper and Row: San Francisco, 1978, p 462 ff. See also “The History Of Christian Doctrines”; by Louis Berkhof; Baker Book House; 1937; Grand Rapids.

 

Feel free to disagree, but if you do you must prove that Paul knew of the rapture, that he was looking for it, and then explain how we can tell what he was talking about, for there would be great difficulty in determining which coming he is speaking of in his writing if he spoke of both.

 

 

THE TRIBULATION

 

As we move on in our study of future events the next one on the horizon is the tribulation. There is much discussion as to the question of whether the church will go through the tribulation, yet there is little difference of opinion as to the fact of the tribulation.

 

The tribulation is a seven year period of time in which many dreadful things happen to the earth and the people living at that time. I am reminded of a cartoon that I saw once where two dogs outside a church have just heard of the coming tribulation. One says to the other, “That’s 49 years of tribulation to you and me.” Even with only seven years of it, I think most will agree that it is not a time that a person would care to go through.

 

The information we have concerning the events of the tribulation are contained primarily in the book of Revelation chapters four through twenty. Other references relate to the time; however this is the most descriptive of actual occurrences.

 

We will look at the different ideas as to whether the church will go through this time or not. There are a number of positions that we will consider.

 

The pretribulational rapture position will follow immediately a brief introduction to the topic of the rapture. After this we will consider some of the other positions that have developed over the years.

 

The tribulation is a period of time during which God deals with national Israel to draw them back to Himself. It will be a terrible time of destruction and death upon the earth. The book of Revelation describes this time of trouble for us.

 

The time is called the tribulation, the time of Jacob’s trouble, and the seventieth week of Daniel. The time is divided into two time frames, each three and one half years long. Some describe the first period as tribulation while contrasting it to the final period which is entitled the Great Tribulation.

 

 

The tribulation as a whole is a time of God showing all of mankind that He indeed is over all and the display of destruction is quite convincing for men will call for the rocks to bury them so they can escape God. This does not seem to be a time for a person to desire to live through.

 

As we move on, we need to consider the teaching that the church will be taken out of the world before this terrible time on earth.

 

THE PRETRIBULATION RAPTURE POSITION

 

Those that hold this position believe that the church age saints will be taken from the earth before the tribulation period begins. The living saints will be translated as were Enoch and Elijah, the dead church age saints will be resurrected and united with those translated, in the air.

 

There is some discussion as to whether the translated go through death on their way up. There is a possibility there is a cessation of life as we know it today, but if there is it will be instant and not something that should be feared.

 

I suspect there is an instant change in the person. The fact that these people will be changed from flesh and bone to glorified bodies is evident. They are prepared for the spiritual realm and there will be a cessation of normal life. I do not feel that it will even be noticed by the believer.

 

This pretribulation rapture is based on the following line of thinking. Several of these will be similar to what we covered the last time, but the review will be good.

 

1. This belief is the position which allows for the closest to the literal interpretation method which most fundamentalists hold. The literal method of interpretation seems to be the most logical method.

 

2. Israel seems to be the focal point after Revelation 4:1 for there is no more mention of the church as such in the book. Daniel 9:24 also shows that the tribulation is a time for Israel. “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people….” (God is speaking to Daniel of Israel.)

 

3. The tribulation is the wrath of God — God wouldn’t put us through it. The death of Christ frees us from judgment and the tribulation IS judgment.

 

 

4. There are literal distinctions between Israel and the Church in Scripture so we must carry literal distinctions throughout the Bible. Other positions fog this distinction when end times are considered. You must have a mixing of Israel and the Church if you have the rapture anyplace but before the tribulation.

 

Israel was set aside during the Church age but as the tribulation opens God is ready to begin His dealings with them once more. Romans 11:13ff

shows the Gentiles being grafted in after branches were broken off. Vs. 25 shows Israel’s blindness is only until the end of the Gentile age (the Church age). This also indicates the distinction between Israel and the church.

 

There is no need for the church to be present for this period of time. It would be strange for the Lord to ask us to place ourselves under a Jewish system of worship and life (the temple etc. will be a part of the tribulation).

 

5. The doctrine of imminence taught by the apostles requires that we can’t know when the tribulation begins. The Revelation has gives great detail concerning events in the tribulation. If believers saw these events occurring they would know that the Tribulation had begun. If we knew the tribulation was upon us then we would know when Christ was coming. This is not an imminent return. (Titus 2:13 tells us to watch; Acts 1:6-7 mentions that the apostles were looking for Christ to come at any moment; 1 Thessalonians 5:1,2 teach imminence as well — it mentions the return will be as a thief in the night; John 14:1-3 where Christ mentioned that he would return.)

 

I would like to just recap some information from “The Rapture Question” by Walvoord, and suggest that you read pages 52 and those following for more detail.

 

Historically the church has held to the imminent return of Christ. That is, the sudden return of Christ, or the fact that His return could be at any moment. The apostle Paul was always looking for Christ’s return. Moffat quotes the early Jewish belief in the fact that some would not go through the tribulation. Clement of Rome (1st century) mentions, “Of a truth soon and suddenly shall His will be accomplished as the Scriptures also bear witness, saying, ‘speedily will he come, and will not tarry;’ and, ‘the Lord shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Holy One for whom ye look.’“ The Didache (120 A.D.) mentions to watch for the Lord. (Taken from the book, The Rapture Question by John F. Walvoord. Copyright 1979 by the Zondervan Corporation. Used by permission. p 52ff.)

 

There are indications that the early Church fathers did not grasp the details of the Lord’s coming, but all seem to have been looking for the return at any time. Now, in light of all that, we cannot say they believed in a pretribulation rapture. They believed in the imminent return of Christ. They mention nothing of a tribulation, but of a sudden return.

 

This is an indicator. They had the revelation and would have understood something of what was being spoken of so, surely would have mentioned a tribulation if they were planning to go through it. I would guess they did not really understand the Revelation enough to see the tribulation as such, but saw only some things to be interpreted allegorically.

 

6. In Daniel’s 70th week the earthly government comes under the control of Satan. (Rev 13 hints at it.) Romans 13 command us to be under the authority of the government. This gives the believer a bit of a conflict if he is still living in that period of time and system of government. If the believer is going through the tribulation as the other positions dictate there would be a real problem. Some might mention the mark of the beast in this regard, however those refusing the mark will die, and if the saints all die there will be no one to rapture.

 

7. Let us consider an argument from silence. Never in the epistles is the Great Tribulation mentioned. If the church was going to go through such a horrifying time don’t you think that the Lord would have warned us of the coming trouble through the writers of the New Testament?

 

8. After a study of the other positions, one is left with only one position that is logical and consistent — the pretribulational position.

 

9. The tribulation and the Day of the Lord are prophesied in both testaments. The translation, or rapture, of the church people is a mystery that is revealed to us (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). The two must be separate.

 

 

10. Revelation 3:10 states, “Because you have kept the word of my perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell upon the earth.”

 

11. Joel 2:28-32 seems to indicate that someone is to be delivered from the tribulation, but the church saints are the only ones that fit. Part of this prophecy was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost; however it will have its ultimate fulfillment in the end times. (V 32 mentions that those that call on the Lord will be delivered.)

 

12. Zephaniah 2:1-3 indicates that God saves some out of His anger. (Day of the Lord — tribulation)

 

13. God usually delivers Godly people before divine Judgments. (Noah from the flood; Lot from Sodom and Gomorrah; Moses and Israel from the loss of the first born; Joshua and Caleb were permitted to enter the promised land while the others were not allowed to enter.) The tribulation is certainly judgment and the Godly people will be taken out if God follows His usual pattern.

 

14. John 14:16 mentions that Christ promised that the Holy Spirit would indwell us forever. “…give you another Comforter that he may abide with you forever;”

 

2 Thessalonians 2:6-10 shows that the Holy Spirit will be taken out of the world. Verse 7 mentions the restrainer. The term is in the masculine and must be more powerful than Satan to restrain Satan and only God can fill this qualification. We must assume this is speaking of the Holy Spirit. Since the Holy Spirit indwells us, if the Holy Spirit is going, then the believers must go also to keep John true to what is said.

 

15. If you hold to the interpretations that the 24 elders of Revelation are representative of any Old Testament or New Testament saints you must have a taking out of saints of one kind or the other before the tribulation (the elders are there). Some set forth the belief the elders are angels however the two classes are held as distinct in Revelation 5:11, “And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the living creatures and the elders….” (Those holding to the twenty-four elders being representatives of the church, suggest the following as basis for their belief: a. The number is a representative number relating to the priesthood: 1 Chronicles 24:1-19. b. Believers will wear white: Revelation 3:5; 4:4. c. Crowns and the term redeemed are related to New Testament believers: I Thessalonians 2:19, I Corinthians 6:20.)

 

16. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:10 indicates that the coming will be as a thief in the night (vs. 2) which indicates before the tribulation. The whole text seems easiest to interpret if it is pretribulation. Also, the only way it can be a surprise is if it’s before the tribulation.

 

17. The rapture in the New Testament speaks of church age saints only. The 2nd coming speaks of Christ’s return to set up a kingdom. All Old Testament prophecy fits into two areas. Messiah the lamb or Messiah the King. His coming at the cross was as a lamb. He next will come as a king.

 

Question: Is the church ever promised a nation — land — kingdom on earth? NO.

 

Question: Is Israel promised these things? YES. All through the Old Testament. Israel is of prime interest in the end times.

 

18. The rapture does not see Christ on earth — only in the air. The 2nd Coming is when Christ touches down on Matthew Zion. This and number 17 show the rapture and the 2nd coming are two events. The 2nd coming is before the millennium thus the rapture needs to be before the tribulation. (Unless you have it very very close to the 2nd coming, as some posttribs do.)

 

19. The rapture is never spoken of as more than one taking out. There is no inference whatsoever that it is in waves as the partial rapture folks indicate.

 

20. Daniel 9:11 shows the tribulation to be the trouble of the Jews.

 

21. 1 Thessalonians 3:13 mentions that the saints will be coming with Christ at the 2nd Coming. They have to get up there before the 2nd coming somehow and a pretrib rapture would make more sense than the posttribulation.

 

We want to look at some of the other thoughts concerning the time of the rapture.

 

 

The Partial Rapture Theory: (G. H. Lang, G. H. Pember, J. A. Seiss and Austin Sparks hold to this thought.)

 

This position is one which teaches that only the worthy will be taken out before the tribulation and that the unworthy believer is left on earth to go through a time of purging. Indeed this sounds like the reformations answer to purgatory, the only difference being is that we know how long the tribulation is, while the Roman Catholic has no idea how long they will be in purgatory.

 

They base this position basically on Hebrews 9:28 which states, “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”

 

Ira E. David indicates they will be raptured out as they are prepared to go. The indication is that those ready when the tribulation starts will go, and then there will be waves going every now and then.

 

Some suggest Paul was trying to catch the first boat over when he mentions: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death, If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:10-12

 

PROBLEMS

 

1. They do not tell you how many good works, or how pure you must be to make it in the first wave.

 

2. They do not deal with 1 Corinthians 15:51 which says, “we shall all be changed”.

 

3. The church is termed the body of Christ. It would be of interest to know which part of the body; Christ is going to rip from the rest of the body when He takes part of His body to heaven.

 

4. We see in this position, that old doctrine of works coming into the scheme of things. If I work hard enough, then I will please God.

 

 

References they use.

 

Look to the context on these, and you will certainly fail to see any hint of a partial rapture.

 

Matthew 24:40-51 Speaking of two in the field and one taken. There are several possible explanations to this text. To begin with there is no indication of waves of believers going from time to time. There seems to be a set separation.

 

a. This could be prophetic of the rapture. It could be speaking in general of all mankind and the fact that some will be taken and some will not.

 

b. This would fit with the second coming when Christ comes with His armies and removes all of the lost from the face of the earth to set up His kingdom with all righteous Jews. Mark 13:24-26 indicates that Christ will gather the saints at His second coming. It may be that He gathers them into one spot, then deals with the lost on a worldwide basis.

 

c. This would fit nicely with the end of the Millennium when there will be some that are taken by death at the great sweep of the lost from the kingdom.

 

Matthew 25:13 speaks of the ten virgins — some are taken and some are left. The context of this is given in 25:1, “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins….” This is a millennial text. To use this in relation to the rapture, you would have to be posttrib.

 

Mark 13:33-37 This asks the believer to watch, and not be caught sleeping. It is clearly speaking of living a life that depicts someone believing He were coming at any moment. This is a good imminence text. Stay awake. The context would again be speaking of the Second coming. Verse 24 mentions, “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and

the moon shall not give her light.” Then v 26 mentions, “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.”

 

Luke 21:36 Again the context identifies this as a text belonging to the kingdom. v 31, “…know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.”

 

 

1 Thessalonians 4 13-18 If it is those that are watching, how can the dead be involved as this text tells us?

 

1 Thessalonians 5:6 Again the thought of watching is the purpose.

 

2 Timothy 4:8 This speaks of reward for loving and watching for His appearing. Neither time nor waves are present in the thought of the verse.

 

Titus 2:13 The thought of looking and watching is prevalent. Hebrews 9:24-28; Revelation 3:3; 12:1-6.

My overall question might be something like this. I know of people that are watching, but are doing nothing else. This seems illogical to say that the watchers will go and the workers will stay. Indeed, the people that set dates for the coming of the Lord are watchers.

 

I think the better idea is for us to be watching, looking and anticipating the day, but to labor in the fields that are white unto harvest until He comes.

 

MIDTRIBULATION VIEW OF THE RAPTURE

 

Norman B. Harrison states that the rapture occurs with the sounding of the 7th trumpet of Revelation 11:12 and the catching up of the two witnesses. He feels that the two witnesses represent the church.

 

The problem with this is that we have no indication that the two witnesses represent the church. Indeed it would seem there is evidence that the two witnesses are Old Testament resurrected saints. Malachi mentions Elijah coming back. (Mal 4:5)

 

The two witnesses are killed and this is not a very clear representation of the church.

 

He feels that the church must suffer tribulation. I suspect they use Acts 14:22 for a proof text. “…that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” They feel the last half of the Tribulation is the wrath of God. 1 Thessalonians 5:9, “For God hath not appointed us to wrath but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,”

 

 

Revelation 6:16-17 mentions that “the great day of his wrath is come and this is in the 6th seal. They need to place the trumps and seals in the first

3 1/2 years of the tribulation. Thus, the church is removed before it.

 

The following was added to and adapted from the Rapture Question — Walvoord.

 

1. They are in truth pretribulation rapture people for the rapture is before The Great Tribulation.

 

2. They reject the thought that all of Daniel’s 70th week is tribulation.

 

3. They at times call themselves pretrib and not midtrib.

 

4. They view Revelation 1-10 as fulfilled, or being fulfilled today. Chapter 11 and on are yet future.

 

5. They place emphasis on the trumps. The last trump of Revelation is the last trump of 1 Corinthians 15:52. However, no scripture links the two trumps. The trump of Revelation is sounded by an angel but we don’t know who sounds the I Corinthians trump. The Revelation trump is to wrath while the I Corinthians trump is to escape from the world. The Revelation trump is not the last LAST trump, for Matthew 24:30-31 says there is one at Christ’s 2nd coming. “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

 

Concerning trumps: In the Roman army there were three trumps sounded when they were striking camp.

 

1. Strike tents and prepare to depart.

 

2. Fall into line.

 

3. Last — march away. The church is marching away so to speak. This is the last trump for the church but may not be the last trump of the end times. You see, the last bell for a class period is not the last bell of the day.

 

 

Problems with the position:

 

1. If we can read Revelation then we can look for the events of the 7 trumps and first six seals and know when the rapture will occur. Has it occurred to you that this eliminates the possibility of an imminent return of Christ. We could indeed know and predict it if the rapture wasn’t until half way through the tribulation.

 

2. They forget that the 70th week is to for dealing with Israel only. The church would not need to be present.

 

They argue that the temple was not destroyed until 70 AD so God mixes things also. However, Acts 10 seems to be a definite turning point where God began to work with Gentiles. (We have synagogues today but it isn’t to say that God is working with both Israel and the Church today.)

 

3. Their thinking on the first 3 1/2 years is that it isn’t really tribulation. Let’s look at some of those non-tribulation events. Famine, 6:5-6; death for 1/4 of the world, 6:8; stars falling, moon turned to blood, mountains and islands moved (6:12-14). This isn’t the wrath of God?

 

Post Tribulation Rapture Theory (George Ladd (Taught at Fuller), Leon Morris, and Harold Ockenga hold to this thought.)

 

This theory views all living saints as going through the entire tribulation, and that the rapture is actually a part of, or very close to the 2nd coming of the Lord, just prior to the Millennium. This is usually held by Amills and Postmills.

 

The people holding this position are normally split into two camps.

 

1. Those that hold to the theory that the present age is the tribulation. In Acts 8:1-3 there was a great persecution which was called tribulation in Acts 11:19. Therefore the tribulation started with the church age.

 

The term used here is also mentioned by Christ in Matthew 24:21, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”

 

2. Those that hold to a seven year tribulation at the end of this present age, and prior to Christ’s second advent.

 

 

Ryrie in a Survey of Bible Doctrine lists the following points of this theory. Following each point an answer will be given.

 

1. “The rapture and the second coming are described in the Scriptures by the same words, which indicates they occur at the same time (1 Thessalonians 4:15 and Matthew 24:27).”

 

Matthew 24:27, “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” 1 Thessalonians 4 15, “…the coming of the Lord….” Why do they have to be the same thing and at the same time? There is no proof.

 

Might I mention something about that word coming? It is Strong’s number 3952 if you want to look it up. It is used in 1 Corinthians 16:17 of Stephanus, and in 2 Corinthians 7:6 of Titus. This is the term “parousia”. It is even used in 2 Peter 3:12 of a coming day. Thus, the usage of the term in relation to two events does not require that the two events are one.

 

2. “Since saints are mentioned as present during the tribulation days, the church is present on earth during that time (Matthew 24:22).” “…but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” There are “elect” in the passage which can relate to elect of any age. The Church need not be anywhere near.

 

3.

 

“It is predicted that a resurrection will occur at the beginning of the millennium, and since it is assumed that this is the same resurrection as that which occurs at the rapture, the rapture will take place just before the millennium (Revelation 20:4).”

 

An assumption which has very little basis. This would be the resurrection of all righteous dead and they would meet the living righteous in the air. All changed — glorified bodies. Only ones left to enter Christ’s kingdom are glorified saints and lost from the tribulation. Problem: The entrance into

the kingdom requires rebirth, thus the lost can’t enter, and glorified saints can’t be reborn, thus no one can enter the kingdom. There also is no one to produce children for population to rebel at the end of the Millennium if there are only glorified saints.

 

 

4. “The church can and will be preserved from the wrath of the tribulation period by supernatural protection while living through that time and not by deliverance from the period (as Israel was protected from the plagues while living in Egypt).”

 

Not one ounce of evidence to this thought is given in Scripture. Indeed Revelation 6:9-11 shows that the righteous will be martyred in the tribulation. That is NOT supernaturally protected.

 

5. “The Scriptures do not teach immanency; therefore, the rapture can be after the known events of the tribulation.”

 

A study to show immanency would be needed here, but it would seem that as a thief in the night indicates immanency…

 

6. “Posttribulationalism was the position of the early church.” So were several doctrines that more modern theologians have proven to be in error.

 

References that are used: Matthew 13:37-43 These verses show a gathering, but again the time is not mentioned; Matthew 13:47-50 These verses also mention a gathering, however both saved and unsaved are mentioned — this is not so at the rapture; Matthew 24:4-14; John 14:3 This verse really has nothing to do with when but that He will return for us; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; 2 Thessalonians 2:1; Revelation 8-16.

 

So, what do we do know that we’ve gone through these positions?

 

1. Take time in your future ministries to dig in, and see what some of the fundamental writers say on the subject of the rapture. Next study literal interpretation, dispensations and then the immanency of Christ.

 

2. When you have that firm in mind go to some of the other writers and see what they teach, and why they believe what they believe. Remember they mix terms that literal interpretation cannot. (Israel and Church)

 

3. I think that a good study of the subject will leave you feeling as I do — that of all the evidence and opinion, the pretrib position is the easiest to see in scripture. It fits well with the scriptural references that we have to deal with.

 

4. Study and think and consider. The questions are not answered solidly no matter what some may say. There are good and bad in all of the positions. The pretribulation position seems to present very few difficulties to me.

 

5. I am not sure that the subject has been studied as completely as it should be by any of the scholars. Many of our doctrines today were formed over hundreds of years of study and restudy. Men discussed and studied until they arrived at the best teaching involving all of the texts. Historically there does not seem to be any real statement on premillennialism.

 

The Trinity was not an established doctrine until A.D. 325. Human depravity wasn’t a settled doctrine till the 5th century AD. The sufficiency of Scripture and the priesthood of the believer weren’t settled until the reformation. So, we may not settle the end time’s discussion for many more years. I think that as years go by, we may see more definitive statements concerning the pretribulation rapture.

 

6. Realize that this is nothing that you are going to lose your salvation over. When we went through this in my first year of college I was on the skids for two or three months trying to figure out what I was. There was a much greater emphasis on prophecy at that time. I wasted a lot of time that I should have been using for study.

 

I am not saying it isn’t important. I am saying; give it some good study and time for thought.

 

The thoughts that we have considered are basically a compilation of the thinking of several pretribulation men.

 

This may be an overstatement; however I don’t think that it is. The pretribulation position fits into the literal interpretation that most fundamentalists hold to. To hold some of the other positions, you have to accept other forms of interpretation which are not consistent with historical fundamentalism, nor logical principles of interpretation.

 

The system fits well with what scripture states. The logical and scriptural arguments seem to be very consistent with the Word.

 

Dr. Pentacost states, “Pretribulation rapturism rests essentially on one major premise — the literal method of interpretation of the Scriptures. As a necessary adjunct [something that accompanies] to this, the pretribulationist believes in a dispensational interpretation of the Word of God. The church and Israel are two distinct groups with whom God has a divine plan.”

 

As I have studied the other positions I find it hard to believe that you can hold to any other position without doing damage to these four doctrines:

 

a. Literal Interpretation.

 

b. Dispensations.

 

c. Distinctions Between The Church And Israel.

 

d. Immanency Of The Return Of Christ.

 

Dr. Pentacost on pp. 193-194 of Things To Come, mentions that Allis one of the key Amillennialists of our day admits, Get This, that if one is to interpret scripture literally and not figuratively that one Must Become a premillennialist. That is the proven end of literal interpretation. He further admits that if you hold to literal interpretation you must also become, as a result of your study of scripture a pretribulationist.

 

Dr. Pentacost of p 194ff details the pretribulation rapture position in great detail. I believe he hits most of the points that we have mentioned.

 

Concerning literal interpretation those taking other positions must spiritualize the texts concerning prophecy. Walvoord gives some examples in the following quote.

 

“Postribulationists usually ignore the distinction between Israel and the church much in the fashion of the amillenarian school. The reason for this is that none of the tribulation passages in either the old or new testament ever mentions the “church” or the ecclesia. In order to prove that the church is in the tribulation period, it is necessary to identify key terms as equivalent to the church. Hense, Israel becomes a general name for the church and in some contexts becomes an equivalent term. The term elect is taken to be equivalent to the church, regardless of the limitation of the context, and saints of all dispensations are considered as members of the true church. In order to make these various terms equivalents, it is necessary to take Scripture in other than a literal sense in many instances — the use of Israel as equivalent to the church being an illustration.”

 

 

(Taken from the book, The Rapture Question by John F. Walvoord. Copyright 1979 by the Zondervan Corporation. Used by permission. p 57)

 

In short, I think what I am saying is this. Present a position other than the pretrib without damaging the doctrines of literal interpretation, dispensations, distinctions between Israel and the church or the imminent return of Christ and I will consider it.

 

I MAY BE WRONG, BUT I DON’T THINK IT CAN BE DONE.

 

 

THE MILLENNIUM

 

Before beginning this study please read the following texts: Isaiah 65:17- 25; Jeremiah 31:33-34; Ezekiel 36:25-31.

 

Eusebius tells of a feast at the end of the Nicean Council as being really special. (He was an early church historian. The council was in A.D. 325)

 

“It felt as if we were imagining a picture of the Kingdom of Christ, and that what was happening was no reality, but a dream.”

 

I think that we can draw from this that the Eusebius was not Amillennial, and that he viewed the kingdom as yet future and literal.

 

I would suggest a couple of items that we did not cover previously concerning the fact that the Lord was offering a kingdom while here the first time around.

 

John 1 41, “…We have found the Messiah which is, being interpreted, the Christ.” Andrew viewed the Lord as the Messiah.

 

John 1 49, “Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.”

 

They viewed the Lord in more than a friendly way…

 

It is not easy to tell how much of the gospels we can relate to the kingdom. It would seem that much of the information would directly relate to the kingdom, in that the Lord was offering it, and preparing people for it.

 

Will there be healing in the kingdom? The healing and miracles were a sign of the Messiah’s having come, so may not be. Yet, Luke 8:1-3 mention that the Lord was “…shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God….” The context mentions some that had been healed, and they were ministering to the Lord in a material manner. This may be a part of the millennial form of things.

 

The kingdom is yet future, due to the fact that the Lord has never returned to set it up. We certainly are not in a kingdom ruled by Christ now.

 

 

When He instituted the Lord’s table, He mentioned that He would not partake of it until the kingdom (Luke 22 18). He is not partaking at present to my knowledge.

 

Luke 24 30 is of interest. It shows the Lord with the folks on the road to Emmmaus, and as they fellowshipped together He broke bread with them, but did not share of the cup.

 

Let us just list some topics of the mill. and their basis.

 

This is a brief look at things. The verses listed are only a sampling of many many more that you could use in preparing lessons, and sermons.

 

CHILDREN WILL BE BORN

 

Jeremiah 30 20, “Their children….”

 

Isaiah 65 20 mentions children’s death.

 

The children born to these godly parents will have opportunity to follow the God of their Fathers, yet it is evident that some will not. Indeed, the indications are that many will not.

 

CHRIST WILL RULE

 

Isaiah 2 4 mentions judging

 

Isaiah 11 3-4 mention that He will judge righteously.

 

Jeremiah 23 5-6 tells that He will be king. His name will be “The Lord Our Righteousness.”

 

Psalm 72 6-11 mentions that all the kings of the earth will bow before Him.

 

He will be here, and in control of all that is going on. He evidently will have help in ruling, which we will see later.

 

 

 

 

 

Isaiah 55 3-4 indicates it.

 

Jeremiah 30 9 states it.

DAVID WILL RULE

 

 

“But they shall serve the Lord their God,

and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them.”

Hosea 3 5, “…and seek the Lord their God, and David their king….” Ezekiel 37 24-25 This text mentions David as their prince, and also shows him as the servant of God.

 

Let us set our progress aside for a moment and consider this problem of both Christ and David ruling.

 

Some have suggested that “David” is equal to, or the same as Christ. Since Christ came from the line of David and there was a promise of a Davidic king, then Christ was the fulfillment of that.

 

Some see the branch coming from David in the prophets as a literal son of David’s line that will be born in the end time. There is no real proof of this thinking. That would add to the confusion, for the texts state David will reign and now we would add a son of David along with Christ and David himself.

 

The easiest, most literal interpretation would fall along these lines. Christ will rule for it is His kingdom, yet David will rule. In Biblical times it was not uncommon for co-regents to exist. One being the actual king in office and name and the other in practice of ruling under the guidance of the king. Christ may use David as a ruling regent. Ezekiel 37 24-25 may indicate this in that David is shown as the servant of God, and the Prince of the people.

 

It might also be suggested that Christ will reign over all the earth from the heavenly sphere, or possibly the New Jerusalem, while David is over Judah proper.

 

I don’t think that it would hinder prophecy one bit to limit David to ruling over Israel, while having Christ ruling over the whole earth.

 

DEATH

 

Isaiah 65:20, “…for the child shall die an hundred years old….”

 

Though there is death in the kingdom, there is indication in this same verse of long life. This long life will lead to a quick population growth, which would allow for many rejectors at the end of the kingdom.

 

 

EVIL DOERS WILL BE CUT OFF

 

Psalm 37 9-11 shows the evil doers will be cut off and the context seems to be similar to the beatitudes. “…the meek shall inherit the earth….” (vs. 11)

 

HEALING IS INDICATED

 

Isaiah 35 3-6, “Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing….”

 

Ezekiel 34 16 mentions, “…will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick….”

 

 

 

 

 

Joel 2 28-32,

HOLY SPIRIT WILL BE FOR EVERYONE

 

 

 

“And it shall come to pass afterward,

that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh….” (28a)

 

Though the kingdom will have many aspects in which it is similar to the OT way of things, there seems to be some new parts as well.

 

It would be an interesting study to see if the cross wasn’t the difference between the OT saints not having the Holy Spirit and the church/kingdom believers having Him indwell them. It certainly seems logical.

 

JERUSALEM WILL BE A CENTER OF HOLINESS

 

Zechariah 14 21, “Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the Lord of hosts….” The same verse goes on to say there will be no Canaanite in the house of the Lord of Hosts, indicating there will only be Jews.

 

The Jew of Christ’s day saw Jerusalem as the center of the earth, but now in the millennium this will be fact. All roads will lead to Jerusalem, so to speak.

 

JERUSALEM WILL BE THE CENTER OF GOVERNMENT

 

Isaiah 2 2-4 states this.

 

 

 

 

Isaiah 9 3-4,

 

JOY

 

 

“…they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.”

 

Isaiah 12 3-6

 

Indeed, anywhere the Lord is there certainly should be joy.

 

There will be many attributes of Christ that will rub off on the kingdom. The joy, the love, the glory, the peace etc.

 

LAND

 

Ezekiel in the later chapters goes into great detail as to the divisions of the land.

 

Psalm 69 35-36 indicates a continuing possession of the land.

 

LANGUAGE

 

Zephaniah 3 9 indicates a universal language, “For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord to serve him with one consent.

 

That should reduce culture shock for missionaries. HA.

 

 

 

 

 

Isaiah 65:20

LONG LIFE

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ezekiel 42 13

OFFERINGS

 

 

We don’t know what the significance of these offerings will be. They may just be symbolic in some manner, or they may be a memorial to things of the OT.

 

 

 

 

 

Isaiah 2 4,

PEACE

 

 

“And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”

 

The Sermon on the Mount — (The Beatitudes) would indicate the life in the kingdom will be very peaceful.

 

Isaiah 65 25,

 

“The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock….”

 

 

 

 

 

Ezekiel 42 14

PRIESTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isaiah 11 4,

RULE WILL BE WITH A ROD

 

 

“…and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.”

 

This is the context of Him being the judge. Psalm 2 9,

“Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

 

 

 

 

 

Ezekiel 42 13

SACRIFICES WILL BE OFFERED

 

 

SAFETY FOR JERUSALEM

 

Jeremiah 33 16, “In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely….”

 

 

SAINTS ONLY

 

At the beginning. It seems there will be offspring due to the fact there are lost at the end when things are coming to a close.

 

Matthew 18 3,

 

“…Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

 

John 3 3, “…Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

 

Jeremiah 31 33-34;

 

Some feel there may be some gentile believers from the tribulation that enter into the Mill. We have no text to show this, yet there is that possibility. Many feel that the gentile believers will be martyred in the Trib. and come with the church at the second advent.

 

Since the Mill is primarily an Old Testament concept and the gentiles of the Trib. would be in the Old Testament concept this might be a possibility. This might well account for the nations that seem to be present in the Mill.

 

SAINTS WILL REIGN

 

2 Timothy 2 12, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him….” Revelation 5 10 also.

Some suggest that the apostles (Matthew 19 28) and the church (1 Corinthians 6 2-3) will reign and rule in the Mill. This may be so, however these texts show them judging and angels are involved in the Cor. text, thus it would seem better to say they will judge in some manner.

 

Whether this judging is in the Great White Throne, ruling, or some area that we aren’t aware of we don’t know.

 

I would personally assume that we will be judging in some manner. This may be in the area of reigning with the Lord, in the idea that as we see wrong we will take care of it.

 

 

SATAN BOUND

 

Revelation 20 1-3 Have Someone Read It.

 

 

 

 

 

It exists: Zechariah 14 17-19

SIN

 

 

It will be judged quickly: Zechariah 14 17-19 It will be judged justly: Isaiah 11 4,

“But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.”

 

 

 

 

 

Ezekiel 41ff

TEMPLE

 

 

Zechariah 14:20 mentions the pots of the Lord’s house.

 

THE EARTH’S TOPOGRAPHY WILL CHANGE

 

Zechariah 14 4-10 shows some major changes. There will be fresh water going out from Jerusalem. Indeed, it is indicated they will flow into the Dead Sea. (“hinder sea”)

 

Ezekiel 47 9-10 show that the Dead sea will once again live.

 

Engedi in verse ten is near the Dead sea and fishermen will be there.

 

UNIVERSAL WORSHIP OF GOD

 

Zephaniah 3 9, “…that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.”

 

This would not include those that will not be converted, though it would indicate they may outwardly worship until the end of the Mill when they rise up in rebellion.

 

 

WAR WILL NOT EXIST

 

Isaiah 2 4 speaks of the beating of swords into plows.

 

IT SHOULD BE A GREAT TIME.

 

Miscellaneous Millennial texts: Psalm 24:7-10; Hosea 6:1-3 seems to indicate that the Lord would have set up the kingdom immediately upon Israel’s turning, after their rejection. The turning has never been forthcoming so this prophecy still awaits its final fulfillment.

 

 

THE MILLENNIAL POSITIONS

 

I would like to begin with a quote from Boettner in Tan’s book (Tan, Paul L.; “The Interpretation Of Prophecy”; Rockville, MD: Assurance Publishing, 1974, p 269-270) “‘There is a logical connection between Premillennialism and Dispensationalism. Most of those who take Premillennialism seriously and become enthusiastic about it go on to adopt Dispensationalism. Conversely, we believe that most of those who become convinced of the errors of Dispensationalism proceed to throw Premillennialism overboard to.’“ (Boettner/MILLENNIUM p 158)

 

PREMILLENNIALISM (AS WE SEE IT)

 

A. The Basis: The basis of premillennialism is found in the Old Testament Covenants given to Israel. The premillennialist sees these covenants as yet unfulfilled. These covenants will find their complete fulfillment during the 1000 year reign of Christ on earth.

 

“Premillennialism insists that all the provisions of the Abrahamic Covenant must be fulfilled since the covenant was made without conditions. Much of the covenant has already been fulfilled and fulfilled literally; therefore, what remains to be fulfilled will also be fulfilled literally. This brings the focus on the yet-unfulfilled land promise.” (Reprinted by permission: Ryrie, Charles C.; “Basic Theology”; Wheaton: Victor Books, 1986, p 457)

 

B. The Definition: “Premillennialism is the view that holds that the second coming of Christ will occur prior to the Millennium which will see the establishment of Christ’s kingdom on this earth for a literal 1,000 years. It also understands there will be several occasions when resurrections and judgments will take place. Eternity will begin after the 1,000 years are concluded. Within premillennialism there are those who hold differing views as to the time of the Rapture.” (Reprinted by permission: Ryrie, Charles C.; “Basic Theology”; Wheaton: Victor Books, 1986, p 450/Ryrie has a brief history of premillennialism on p 451-452.)

 

C. The System:

 

 

1. They believe in a literal historical grammatical system of interpretation.

 

2. They believe that today is not a golden age. (Corruption is the norm in our day and things are not getting better and better. We are pessimists according to the present day lingo — 1990.)

 

3. There is a definite distinction between Israel and the Church.

 

4. Prophecies concerning Israel were fulfilled literally to this point and will one day be completely fulfilled — literally.

 

5. They hold to a literal, visible, bodily and glorious return of Christ in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.

 

6. They hold to a literal Abrahamic Covenant which was extended into the future.

 

7. They recognize the Church as the spiritual seed of Abraham. Galatians 3:29

 

8. They recognize the difference between physical and spiritual seed of Abraham. Romans 9:6-8

 

9. The Abrahamic covenant was unconditional.

 

10. They use a Dispensational approach to Scripture.

 

11. The Church was formed separate from Israel. (Although early Christians were Jews.) 1Corinthians 10:32 and Romans 11:26 shows this distinction between the two.

 

12. An overview of the system’s teaching. They hold to the following points:

 

a. Soteriological Program (God is in the process of providing salvation for accepting mankind.) Genesis 3:15

 

b. Promises Given To Abram that were to find fulfillment in his life and his people. Genesis 12

 

c. Palestinian Covenant Deuteronomy 30:1-10

 

d. Davidic Covenant 2 Samuel 7:12-16

 

 

e. New Covenant Jeremiah 31:31-24

 

f. Kingdom Prophesied By The Old Testament Prophets.

 

g. Kingdom Offered And Rejected By Christ at His first advent.

Matthew 10-12

 

h. Church Was Indicated In Matthew 16 — Church was started in Acts 2

 

j. God Will Again Deal With Israel. (They are only set aside at this time. This is national Israel. Individual Jews may and do come to the Lord for Salvation through the Messiah that has come.)

 

k. The Millennial Kingdom Is Yet Future. (Revelation 20:1-6 and Old Testament references to future kingdom)

 

l. Final Resurrection And Judgment. This will follow the kingdom and will deal with all unsaved of all time. Revelation 20: 11-15

 

D. Problems Of The System (from those outside the system)

 

1. Premillennialists are accused of not being scientific in their study of the Scripture. This would have reference to the not using of the liberal’s methods of criticism and interpretation. To this the premill suggests, they lack of knowledge of the system.

 

2. Premillennialists base their whole system on one text, Revelation 20:1-7. The fact that Scripture mentions a 1000 years is disputed by the other positions. Some feel that the 1000 years is not to be taken as a literal 1000 years, but rather be viewed as a period of time. They would suggest that we are in that period of time now. The truth is that this text fits only to the Old Testament Kingdom when you use a literal framework of interpretation. John The Baptist and Christ came on the scene preaching a kingdom, but never defined it or told the Jews what it was. The only kingdom they would know about is the promised Davidic kingdom of the Old Testament. The whole of the New Testament is a continuation of the Old and its program. God did not dump the Old Testament kingdom, just postponed it and mentioned it through John to allow people to know that it is still coming.

 

 

3. They are inconsistent in their literal interpretation. (We are not literal literalists.) This refers to the fact that the premillennialist allows for the allegories, etc. of the Old Testament. They charge that if we are going to be literal, then we should be literal in all passages. In other words when the Psalmist mentions that David was the apple of God’s eye, we should see this as God having an apple in His eye named David.

 

Premillennialists recognize types, signs and other language oriented quirks that literal interpretation would require.

 

4. They hold to a reinstitution of sacrifices and this contradicts Hebrews 8:8-13. Yes, we see sacrifices in the Millennial kingdom because the Bible prophecies this. We do realize there is no need for sacrifice for sin, however there are other sacrifices, and these sacrifices in the Millennium may be similar to the Lord’s Table in meaning. They may have commemorative value.

 

The problem is that the objectors probably misinterpret Hebrews, and ignore that the premill. always mentions that the Millennial sacrifices are a memorial or some other form, rather than the sin sacrifices that are no longer needed.

 

5. They interpret the Old Testament and fit the New Testament into it. Amen. Since we believe in progressive revelation, we would certainly look at the oldest and understand the new in light of that knowledge. This is only logical and correct.

 

6. A future work with Israel (kingdom) is inconsistent because Jew and Gentile are one now. Ephesians 2:14-16 They do not see any distinction between Israel and the Church, so this is a charge that is to be expected. The two entities are separate and the Bible is clear on this.

 

They wrongfully mix Israel and the Church. They also wrongly interpret the Ephesians text along with all of the texts which show that the two are different and distinct.

 

7. Literal interpretation is not a valid method.

 

This concept should turn their own minds to the illogical and profane.

How can we understand a message given to us unless we use the literal method? If they were to receive a telegram from their Aunt Tilda, wouldn’t they use literal interpretation to understand it? God wanted to communicate with man thus the literal method is the only logical method.

 

8. A difference between Israel and the church is inconsistent with Romans 11:11-24.

 

On the contrary, this text depicts clearly, if interpreted literally, the distinction between Israel and the Church. They have a misconception of the Romans illustration.

 

9. The New Testament doesn’t interpret the Old Testament literal so why should the premillennialists? James spiritualizes Amos 9:11 in Acts 15:14- 17.

 

True the New Testament writers do not always use the Old Testament literally; however they do use it literally at times. They drew information from the Old Testament to use for their own day much as we do. A spiritualizing does not remove the need for a literal fulfillment. Peter in His first sermon in Acts mentions the fulfillment on the day of Pentecost as a fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy; however that prophecy was not literally, completely fulfilled. It will have a complete literal fulfillment yet future.

 

10. Premillennialists ignore Matthew 21:43 when Christ removed the kingdom from Israel.

 

How can we have a millennium if God is not dealing with Israel? This is the crux of the system. God is not dealing with Israel today, but will one day resume His dealings with them. We do not ignore the removal of the kingdom from Israel; we view it as a literal occurrence. Indeed, the Matthew text is a precursor of the Romans 11:11ff text. The removal of the kingdom is not ignored, it is recognized and this is an integrated part of the system.

 

11. Galatians 3:28, 29 says there is no difference between Jew and Greek. Premillennialists should apply Jewish truth to Gentiles.

 

True, there is no difference, but this is speaking of the spiritual realm and not the physical. (Romans 9:6-8 show a difference between the two.) In this age there is no difference between Jew and Gentile within the church and indeed, within the need of salvation and its availability to all of mankind. The phrase “in Christ Jesus” limits the thought to believers.

 

 

The whole problem of problems is that we cannot answer them adequately enough to convince the other side. We can find no arguments strong enough to convince them. We have no text good enough to stir their solidarity in their position Why? Because they interpret differently than we do. If they accept literal, historical, grammatical interpretation then they must, by

their own lips, accept Dispensational Premillennialism. They realize that the Dispensational premillennial position is the end product of the literal method of interpretation. We realize their position is due to their method of interpretation, thus there is a great gulf fixed that no man can cross (unless he changes his method of interpretation).

 

COVENANT PREMILLENNIALISM

 

A. Basis: This system is based on the Old Testament Covenants which are now being fulfilled in and by the Church.

 

B. The System:

 

Tan defines the system as follows: “A system of eschatology which attempts to reconcile premillennialism with covenantism while avoiding dispensationalism and pretribulationism. (P 364; The Interpretation Of Prophecy.)

 

He mentions (p 269) that, “They want what one writer describes as ‘amillennial covenantism with a premillennial topping.’“

 

They view the program as beginning at Genesis 3:15 in the promise of one that will overcome evil. From that point forward there is a kingdom rule by God, over man. This rule takes different shades of meaning as time passes. In the Old Testament it was a direct rule through the judges, kings, and prophets. When Christ came to earth and died, then ascended to the Father the Kingdom took on a spiritual aspect. He is now reigning from heaven and will continue to do so until the end times. At the end, there will be a literal kingdom over Israel, yet they do not see it as an all Jewish kingdom.

 

It seems that they view much of prophecy allegorically, yet when it comes to Revelation 20 and the 1000 year kingdom, they turn to literalism.

 

The position views the second coming as the introduction to the kingdom on earth. The Devil will be bound during this time of the kingdom while

 

 

Christ will be ruling here on earth. They view the church age as a kingdom which is ruled from heaven. The tribulation also occurs prior to the kingdom.

 

They would view the kingdom in the book of Matthew as this spiritual kingdom. They would view the entire book as applying to that kingdom — today. This has been taught in many churches over many years. I was raised on this idea in a church where the Gospel was seldom taught. I have heard it taught in Evangelical churches as well.

 

It seems that they view things very similarly to us, however there is one distinction. They believe that the covenants are being fulfilled in the church today. They want to have covenantism but remain premillennial.

 

1. Their system views the Church as spiritual Israel. Romans 9:24

 

2. Abraham is the Father of all believers. Romans 4:11

 

3. They view Jeremiah 31 as fulfilled in this age. They see the Hebrews 8 passage as contradictory to the thought of a religious system for the Jews in the kingdom future.

 

4. They do accept a literal Israel. Romans 11:26

 

5. They do differ with premillennialism about the prophesied sacrifices of Ezekiel 40-48. They view them fulfilled by Christ completely with no future fulfillment. Hebrews 8

 

6. They believe in a literal national future salvation for Israel.

 

7. A literal 1000 years is recognized, however this is not taught in the Old Testament or the Gospels, only Revelation 20:1-6. It is some new kingdom that was never mentioned, or indicated prior to Revelation 20.

 

8. Christ preached a salvation message. He was not preaching a kingdom message.

 

9. Today we are in the mystery or spiritual form of the kingdom. Matthew 13

 

10. Christ reigns in heaven today, but on earth during the 1000 years.

 

 

11. The covenants and the kingdom find their fulfillment in this mystery form of the kingdom today.

 

12. The kingdom was promised in the Old Testament. This would be the mystery form — the church.

 

13. The kingdom is being fulfilled today.

 

14. The kingdom will be concluded at the 2nd return of Christ for a 1000 year earthly reign.

 

15. They hold to a resurrection of the saved premillennium and unsaved post millennium for judgment.

 

16. It would seem that they reject a literal tribulation.

 

17. Tan submits that they affirm, “that the church and Israel are somewhat blended, though not fully amalgamated.” (p 246; The Interpretation Of Prophecy.)

 

C. Problems Of The System.

 

1. They deny the dispensational system yet operate within one. They view different governing relationships between God and man thus accepting one of the basics of dispensationalism.

 

2. They improperly view Romans 9:24 and see the Church as spiritual Israel.

 

3. They reject literal fulfillment of Ezekiel 40-48 because of not viewing Hebrews 8 properly. They feel there cannot be a new temple in the future because the Lord’s sacrifice in the heavenly tabernacle was once and for all.

 

4. They fail to relate the Revelation 20:1-6 1000 years to the Old Testament Kingdom. It is hard to conceive why they would find a new — unrevealed kingdom in the book of Revelation. The easiest and most logical view is that this is the kingdom prophesied.

 

5. They spiritualize most of the Bible’s prophecy yet take Revelation 20 literally.

 

 

Tan in The Interpretation Of Prophecy, mentions that they spiritualize the 144,000 to be the church while holding to a literal 1,000 year kingdom. He terms their interpretation as “selectively inconsistent” (p 268).

 

6. Someone that believes Satan is being plundered today has a problem. A look at any city newspaper will show the decadence of our society and world. To say that Satan is bound in this age is to attribute all evil that goes on to God and his kingdom that is being ruled from heaven by Christ. Satan and evil are free and active in this present age.

 

7. They see no distinction between the Kingdom and Soteriological programs. The kingdom is a program in and of itself to bring man to God.

 

8. Their system requires a non-chronological book of Revelation. Passages showing saints in heaven will be out of sequence if it is chronological in their system.

 

9. They mix Israel and the Church.

 

AMILLENNIALISM

 

A. The Basis: Amillennialism is based on the Old Testament covenants which were transferred over to the Church for fulfillment.

 

B. The System:

 

In a nutshell the position views the world ruled by the one that is in a position to do so. Adam was the ruler until his fall into sin when the Devil took over the rulership of the earth. He ruled throughout the Old Testament period. His rule was interrupted when the Lord came to earth to setup His kingdom. Not only did Christ set up His kingdom — the millennium — the Davidic kingdom — the 1000 years — but He also bound Satan for the duration of this new kingdom.

 

Their view of Daniel is that the kingdoms that are mentioned are Satan’s kingdoms here on earth (Babylon, Media Persia, and Greece). The 70th week, or tribulation is past and it ended in A.D. 70 with the destruction of Jerusalem.

 

 

Christ is now ruling from the heavenly Jerusalem. When Christ returns to earth at the second coming he will introduce eternity in which the Old Testament will be fulfilled.

 

Tan suggests that amillennialism is, “A system of eschatology which, among other things, interprets the millennium as symbolical of present life in heaven.” (P 363; The Interpretation Of Prophecy.)

 

THE PRINCIPLES OF THE SYSTEM

 

1. The seed of Abraham is equal to all of God’s people. Israel and the Church age people are one.

 

2. God dispensed with the Land and Promise. The promises are no longer to be considered. This is due to the following: a. The Jews have lost their lineage; b. The promise was fulfilled literally in the past; c. The promises were conditional and Israel didn’t meet the requirements.

 

3. The promise was for any group of God’s people in any
age. (If this is correct, then why don’t we go claim Israel for the Christians in the United States?)

 

4. Israel lost their promises and the Church inherited them. (Church = Israel)

 

If the promises have been dispensed with, how can any group of God’s people claim them? Illogical.

 

5. They see no justification for a total literal interpretation of Scripture.

 

6. They agree with Covenant Premillennialists that Revelation 20:1-6 is the Millennial Kingdom, but disagree as to what it is.

 

7. They feel Revelation 20:1-3 is today. Satan is now bound. (He can’t prevent spread of the Gospel however.)

 

8. Revelation 20:4 is speaking of martyred saints.

 

9. Christ reigning literally 1000 years is not required. This would indicate that the millennial kingdom to them may be quite different from the kingdom of the Old Testament.

 

10. The Old Testament Kingdom came in Christ’s time. Matthew 12:28

 

 

11. They do allow for a future phase of some sort. (This would be the Revelation Millennium, even if they don’t define what it is.)

 

12. Overview of their teachings.

 

a. Satan has a series of kingdoms Daniel 9 (Babylon, Medio- Persia, Greece and Rome)

 

b. God’s kingdom takes over. (Fall of Rome)

 

c. Satan cast out of Heaven at the cross.

 

d. Satan bound at fall of Rome.

 

e. Kingdom offered by Christ.

 

f. Kingdom set up A.D. 70. (fulfilled at fall of Rome.)

 

g. Resurrections and judgment just prior to eternity.

 

h. Jesus reigns in Heavenly Jerusalem Galatians 4:26.

 

i. The book of Revelation deals with the fall of Jerusalem and fall of Rome.

 

j. The 1000 years is only representative of an ideal time.

 

C. Problems:

 

1. They interpret literally in theology but allegorically in prophecy. Any system that switches between methods of interpretation should be suspect of interpreting to show their position rather than to see what God has to say. The person who believes in allegorical interpretation is much more honest in what he is doing.

 

2. All prophecy is fulfilled in this current age. Anyone reading through the Old Testament would realize that some prophecies are not fulfilled, and a look around our world would show that this is not a golden age.

 

3. Today is a golden age with Satan bound. How can anyone believe Satan is bound today?

 

4. They reject dispensations even though they have them in their system. Any system that does not offer blood sacrifices today is a quasi- dispensational system. They must realize there are differences in how the Lord deals with man.

 

5. Their arguments are very weak, and their textual interpretations are much stretched.

 

6. They admit Scripture doesn’t say the Promise was conditional, but they assume that it was. To assume that something is true where the Bible is silent opens us to any man’s assumption as truth. I might well assume that I am free to murder since the Scripture does not state, “Stanley shalt not kill.” I could easily say that the “thou” of Scripture is everyone except myself.

 

7. They make no difference between Israel and the Church. This does an injustice to the Scriptures.

 

8. The land and promise are not out of the picture. Israel has never occupied the total promised land. All this is yet future when the Lord returns to his dealings with Israel.

 

9. Basically the whole system is a problem in that it is not consistent with literal interpretation.

 

10. They tend to stretch your imagination. (Acts 1:6 Christ’s answer to disciples’ question is turning their attention from a Kingdom that is already set up to their coming responsibility of witnessing. To premillennialists he is saying the millennium is yet future.)

 

Among the amillennialists is the Roman Catholic Church.

 

COVENANT THEOLOGY

 

A. The System Defined: Tan suggests: “A system of theology which, among other things, explains all relationship between God and man from the beginning to the end of time under the Covenant of Works, the Covenant of Grace, and (sometimes) the Covenant of Redemption.” p 364; The Interpretation Of Prophecy.

 

B. The System Explained:

 

The system operates on the basis of two covenants. The first is the covenant of works which ended at the fall of Adam. Genesis 3:15 is the second covenant in cryptic form. The covenant is the covenant of grace. This covenant covers all of time since the fall.

 

Some add a third covenant of redemption which is introduced at the cross, but it is viewed as an integrated part of the covenant of grace.

 

The people holding to this position interpret Scripture very differently than we do. They use figurative or allegorical views of Scripture and find new, deeper meanings behind the words of the Scriptures.

 

They see two covenants neither of which appears in Scripture. The covenant of works and the covenant of grace. The covenant of works carried mankind all the way to the fall.

 

The verse they use to show the covenant of works is Romans 2:7-9, “To them who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek.” (It is strange that they give a New Testament reference to back up a system that occurred hundreds of years before.) They also use Psalm one as proof text. (This is at least a little closer in proximity.)

 

The covenant of grace was given in cryptic form in Genesis 3:15. At the time of Abraham, God instituted the covenant of grace which has other covenants or administrations within it. A Covenant has three elements to it: Parties, Promises, and Conditions.

 

The covenant of works, I gather, is the fact that Adam and Eve could live in the garden as long as they worked in the garden and kept their noses clean. This is also called by other names such as, Edenic covenant, and covenant of life.

 

This covenant had three stipulations. The Evangelical Dictionary Of Theology, lists them as follows:”

 

(1) a promise of eternal life upon the condition of perfect obedience throughout a probationary period;

 

(2) the threat of death upon disobedience; and

 

 

(3) the sacraments of paradise and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Elwell, Walter A. Ed.; “Evangelical Dictionary Of Theology”; Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984, p 279)

 

The covenant of grace is really poorly named because it is actually a second covenant of works. God in this new covenant requires obedience to His revealed will. As He sees obedience, then He will bless the person. This covenant is between God and the elect, for it is God’s promise to save the person who believes.

 

As you can see, the Covenant Theologian is required to mix the Church and Israel into one large group of God’s people where there are no distinctions. The mixing of Testaments can be seen in the fact that they use Romans 2:7-9 to show the covenant of works which ended at the fall. All of Scripture as now complete is the basis for their system. It would seem to me that no person prior to the completion of Scripture could really know what God wanted because all Revelation was not given.

 

In keeping with this they would view all promises of both testaments as theirs for the choosing. A further mixing of the testaments results in some cases with infant baptism. The rite of Old Testament circumcision for babies is carried over into the thought of baptism. Both being a sign of the covenant. (A note of interest: Circumcision was a male right, so how can it be a precursor for baptism, a male and female right?)

 

Ryrie quotes Allis’s book “Prophecy And The Church,” “The law is a declaration of the will of God for man’s salvation.” They feel that we are to be obedient to the revealed will of God so that He will bless us.

 

AMILLENNIALISTS AND THEIR BOOKS

 

Jay Adams, “The Time Is At Hand

 

O. T. Allis, “Prophecy And The Church

 

William E. Cox, “Amillennialism Today

 

Floyd E. Hamilton, “The Basis Of Millennial Faith

 

As I understand their thinking, the first covenant was given to carry man through time, but Adam blew it. Finally God found Abraham, a man that would obey, and so God set the second covenant, out of His grace, another covenant of works to carry man through.

 

Some see a third covenant, a covenant of redemption — I have not done any research on those that present this. Elwell in his “The Evangelical Dictionary Of Theology”; p 279-280, shows this covenant to be as follows: “According to covenant theology, the covenant of grace, established in history, is founded on still another covenant, the covenant of redemption, which is defined as the eternal pact between God the Father and God the Son concerning the salvation of mankind.”

 

“The Father loves the Son, commissions him, gives him a people, the right to judge, and authority over all mankind… the Son loves the Father, delights to do his will, and has shared his glory forever….”

 

“On this foundation covenant theology affirms that God the Father and God the Son covenanted together for the redemption of the human race, the Father appointing the Son to be the mediator, the Second Adam, whose life would be given for the salvation of the world, and the Son accepting the commission, promising that he would do the work which the Father had given him to do and fulfill all righteousness by obeying the law of God.”

 

POSTMILLENNIALISM

 

A. The System Defined: Tan suggests: “A system of eschatology which, among other things, sees the millennium ushered in through a gradually Christianized world. Christ comes at the end of this ‘millennium.’” (“The Interpretation Of Prophecy” P 367)

 

In recent days there have been many taking on this line of thinking. Ten years ago Boettner and J.M. Kik were the only men alive that seemed to hold this position. In recent days many in the Charismatic movement have been accepting this thinking and teaching it. They see the Church as theüoower to bring in the Millennium.

 

They see that the Church is responsible to reach all peoples of the earth with the Gospel and then the kingdom will be set up. Revelation 7:9a is used to help show that the earth must be reached before the Kingdom can come into existence. You will be seeing more and more about this in the future. This is behind many of the evangelism movements of our day.

 

They are calling this the “Kingdom Theology.” Some fear that this theology is playing into the hands of the New Age Movement which is teaching a very similar philosophy. They feel that the new Christ is about to be revealed and that he will soon set things right here on earth for his rule over man.

 

We will have a serious look at Kingdom Theology in a future section.

 

PRINCIPLES OF THE SYSTEM

 

1. The preaching of the Gospel to the world will bring mass worldwide conversions which will usher in the 1000 years of peace. Sound like any recent evangelism push? 2000 for example.

 

2. Christ will return at the end of the 1000 years of peace.

 

3. There is one large general resurrection of all the dead of all times.

 

4. There will be a general judgment of all those raised and those living at the coming of Christ.

 

In the past the main deterrent to this position was the advent of the World Wars. Prior to the wars there seemed to be a peace coming, and people were coming to the Lord. Since the wars this position had little to offer. It may well be that the new crumbling of communism and the appearance of peace over the earth will bring forth a new movement toward this system of thought.

 

They deny Christ’s reign on earth, and spiritualize the tribulation information. The idea of world evangelism was not a possibility until the 80’s when the kingdom theology came into focus.

 

Many evangelical groups have taken up the 2000 concept which teaches that we will reach the world by the year 2000. Many have spent millions on strategy and labor to accomplish this goal. There is nothing wrong with the labor and investment of money to evangelize, however the goal of 2000 is foolish at best. When we evangelize the world, Christ can come according to the ologies of today. God will, however choose that time, not man, not man’s plans, not man’s efforts.

 

There is a real redefinition in world evangelization becoming popular today because of this thinking. They are now saying that if a people group has one church in it, then that people group has been evangelized. Based on this misconception they have announced that world evangelization is nearing a reality. Imagine, if there is one church in the Afro-American people group then that group of millions is considered evangelized.

 

“This viewpoint teaches that the second coming of Christ will occur after (post) the millennium. Postmillennialists look for a utopian state on earth to be brought about through the efforts of the church, and during this golden age the church, not Israel, will experience the fulfillment of the promises to Abraham and David. The kingdom will be on earth, but it will be a “church kingdom” not a Jewish kingdom, and the King, Christ, will be absent from the earth, not present on it. He will rule in the hearts of the people and return to the earth only after the millennium is complete. then will follow a general resurrection of all the dead, a general judgment of all people, and eternity will begin.

 

“Postmillennialism conceives of the unfulfilled Abrahamic promises as being fulfilled by the church and, of course, not in any literal sense. Its method of interpretation is generally to spiritualize prophecy.” (Taken from: “A Survey Of Bible Doctrine”; Ryrie, Charles C.; Copyright 1972, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago; Moody Press. Used by permission. pp. 162-163.)

 

POST TRIB PREMILLINNARIANISM

 

Men holding to this position that I have run across are: George Ladd, Mark Krouse, and Mark Kromminga.

 

Ladd wrote “The Gospel Of The Kingdom And Presence Of The Future.” Walvoord has a review of this book and says that the premillennial position was totally left out and that he believes Ladd is closer to being Amillennial. Ladd says no to this. (The review was in Dallas Seminary’s theological journal, Bib Sac. July 1974.)

 

 

They view the Rapture and 2nd Coming as one event between the Tribulation and Millennium. The believers are resurrected and the living unrighteous are judged at this point in time. This introduces Christ’s literal rule for 1000 years on earth. At the end of this time there is a general resurrection and the unrighteous are judged. The righteous enter eternity.

 

They make no distinction between Israel and the Church. They feel that God’s Soteriological program is the Kingdom program. They feel literal historical interpretation is wrong, thus arrive on the scene as Post Tribulational Premillennial.

 

Another group of postribulation people are the Seventh Day Adventists. The 7th dayers got into trouble, predicting the second coming because they were postrib and saw the Roman Church as the end times culprits. They figured up with their trusty calculator and decided on 1844 and blew it. (They viewed worship on Sunday from Rome and calculated the end of the spiritualized tribulation that they were living through.

 

REVISED DISPENSATIONAL PREMILLINNARIANISM

 

This position seems to be a cross between dispensationalism and Covenant Theology thus the name that has been given to them. There is little written on their position that I have been able to find.

 

This view doubts the view which we have set forth, that Christ and John the Baptist were offering a literal 1000 year kingdom. (Millennial kingdom of the Old Testament.)

 

As I understand the view they see the dispensational approach, but instead of viewing the church as parenthetical they see it as a grafting of the gentiles into the kingdom that is ongoing in God’s plan. When the gentiles were grafted in they became the kingdom. The kingdom is one ongoing program with God and there has just been a slight change in clientele during the church age.

 

They view a pre-millennial return of Christ to fulfill the promises of Israel in a 1000 year reign of Christ. I do not know what they do with the tribulation for it does not appear on the charts I have seen.

 

 

There is strong reaction to the idea that Christ offered a kingdom and that it was rejected. They feel that it was Christ’s person that was rejected rather than His kingdom. (We would agree that His person was rejected as was His kingdom.)

 

They view the sermon on the mount and other teachings prior to the rejection as the spiritual intent of the Mosaic law and that they are for this age as well as the kingdom to come.

 

They make a very valid point to the thinking of some pre-trib. people. They take issue with the thought that the church is a parenthesis. A period which God Super Glued in, to fill the gap till the 2nd Coming. Some almost make it appear that God didn’t know that the kingdom was going to be rejected. This is consistent with what has been presented in this work. The church is a part of the ongoing program of God that was planned before the foundation of the earth. The church is the kingdom in mystery form. In this they would agree with our view.

 

Indeed, God did know the events coming, and had planned the church age all along. He had just not revealed it as yet.

 

They see Christ’s offer of a kingdom as a spiritual kingdom (salvation) not the Davidic kingdom.

 

I’m not sure they are that far removed from Posttrib Premillennialism. They see the church age as a phase of the kingdom — which seems to be consistent with things. They keep Israel and the church separate except that we will be with Israel in the tribulation if there is one.

 

Their disagreement with our position would be basically two fold. They would believe that we are in a spiritual phase of the kingdom now and that Christ was not offering the Millennial Kingdom when He was on earth.

 

That concludes our brief look at some of the other views of the end times. It might be asked, “Does it matter what we hold?”

 

Yes, it does matter. If you are going to live life and declare that the Bible is your guide to faith and practice, then you must look at what It says and believe it.

 

 

When interpreted literally the Bible shows the Premillennial position very clearly. The system fits the facts given. If you reject literal interpretation, then you will find yourself in some other belief system. True, all systems lead to righteous living and that is to be admired in all that believe in any system.

 

The key in all of this is God’s message. Did He deliver it in obscure hard to understand methods, or did He deliver it in a very understandable form? The latter seems most logical.

 

 

ULTRADISPENSATIONALISM

 

I would like to include a short study on what is termed ultradispensationalism. It is the dispensational system taken a few steps further.

 

Among these people there are a number of variations. The variety comes from the fact that they place the beginning of the Church at different places in time. This will automatically determine how they view the Lord’s table, Baptism and their use of Biblical books.

 

THE POSITIONS

 

Some view the church as beginning at Acts nine, the conversion and commission of Paul. (Mark C.R. Stam, “Things That Differ”; Chicago: Berean Bible Society, 1959/ He also wrote, “The Fundamentals Of Dispensationalism”)

 

Some view the church as beginning at Acts thirteen, when Paul and Barnabus were sent out on their first missionary journey. (Mark O’Hair)

 

Others see the church beginning as late as Acts 28, as the ministry of Paul closes out. (Mark Knoch)

 

Though I have not run across anyone holding to this position, I suspect there may be some that view the Church beginning with Acts ten when the gentiles were allowed into the picture. (The conversion of Cornelius and his house.)

 

Among their beliefs are the following: Some reject the Lord’s table, some reject baptism, some reject both, some reject the ordinances and hold only to Paul’s epistles, and some go even further and reject all of the New Testament except Paul’s prison epistles.

 

Mark Knoch believes there are four dispensations between Christ and Paul’s prison ministry.

 

Most of these men view the Great Commission as to the Jews only and not incumbent upon the Church.

 

 

Another variation is the thought of Mark C.F. Baker. He believes that one church began at Pentecost, but that Paul was sent and was writing to another, separate, church body. (Baker, C.F., “Dispensational Theology”; Grand Rapids: Grace Bible College Publ., 1971)

 

I Think that all of these men would be pretrib/premill men and that they would hold to a literal Millennium. Some of them are very straight doctrinally. Indeed, IFCA, at one time, accepted a hyperdispensational man into their fellowship. This would require proper belief in many areas of doctrine.

 

 

KINGDOM THEOLOGY

 

I would like to introduce this section with two quotes from a man that preached a similar type theology. The quotes will set the stage for our discussion.

 

“He [Christ] could have come back five hundred years ago. If we evangelize the world in this generation, He can come back in this generation. Everything depends on our obedience. We can hasten His coming by giving His Gospel to every tribe, tongue, people and nation.”

 

“When the last nation gets the Gospel and there are some in the body of Christ from every nation, tongue and people, then, and then only, will God’s plan be consummated. Only then can the Age end and Jesus Christ return to take over the reins of government.” (Smith, Oswald J., “The Cry Of The World”; London: Marshal, Morgan and Scott, no copyright)

 

You can see clearly from this that the Church and the Church’s efforts will bring about the return of Christ. Christ must wait upon us to do our

job. He cannot return until we allow it. Now, I trust that you have seen the error of that already. How can we control Almighty God? We cannot.

 

Variations of this thought have come to us in a number of different groups, theologies and belief systems. Some that we will look at briefly are: Kingdom Theology, Dominion Theology, Reconstruction theology, Theonomy, Restorationism, Restitutionism, Third Wave, Latter Rain, and Kingdom Now.

 

Gary North divides the theological peoples of our day into two categories. The eschatological pessimists and the eschatological optimists. Simply put the pessimists see gloom and doom, and the optimists see vivaciousness and victory. The pessimist views the world situation and Biblical end

times as declining until the Lord comes. These people are the dispensationalists.

 

The optimist views the world scene as getting better and better until the Lord comes. The world getting better comes from the activities of the believers. Those holding this are usually linked in some manner with Post millennialism.

 

Most agree that many of these people have simply adopted the old Postmillennialism and tacked on a new name with some new trimmings. DeMar does not seem to reject the title Postmillennialist when used of him. (“The Reduction Of Christianity A Biblical Response To Dave Hunt”; Gary DeMar and Peter Leithard; Dominion Press; Ft Worth; 1988, p XXXV) He quotes Isaiah 11 9-10 as something that relates to what believers can do today. (in Reduction, p X) “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.”

 

To prove their teachings they state that Satan has developed counterfeits. Because their teachings follow closely the teachings of cults and isms, they state that their teachings are the true ones that the cults and isms are counterfeiting. Their teaching has been compared by some to the New Age movement. The New Agers believe that the true Christ is coming shortly, as soon as they can get the earth ready for him. The Kingdom Theology simply is looking for Christ’s second coming when they can get the world cleaned up.

 

The following points are a compilation of information gleaned from the following books: “That The World May Know” Pollock; “Seduction The Biblical Response”; “Paradise Restored”, Chilton.

 

1. They view man as God: We can become god and create our own destiny. This is based on several things. First, they believe the church is divine — we are the body of Christ. This is the misuse of literal interpretation. We are not the literal hands, feet etc. of Christ — we are a body of people that belong to Christ and a body that Christ controls. The Scripture nowhere indicates that we are divine beings, or that the church is divine. Relate the church at Corinth to this teaching. If the church is divine then we have divinity involved in immorality and many other sins. Intolerable.

 

Their thinking stems from Ephesians 4:11-16 and Matthew 5:48. They mistake maturing with becoming divine and perfect. We cannot in this life become perfect. We may become more mature and more pure, but never perfect. We may not in any life become divine. God alone is divine and He alone in all of eternity will be divine.

 

2. They view the church as taking dominion over the world before Christ returns: The Corinthians text is speaking of activities of the Lord in the

end and have nothing to do with what the church is going to do. This is the context of the resurrections, not the church age. The Ephesians text is also speaking of the Lord and not the church. Verse twenty two and three mention that Christ is head over the church, but does not show that the church did all that is in the preceding text.

 

Even the lost understand the program. In the 1992 presidential campaign one of the “religious right” was introduced by a newsman as one that believes that the Christians should take over government and set up a theocracy in the United States. This is what they want to do.

 

I dislike being lumped in with them by the media as part of the religious right. It seems the media takes the most controversial of a group and label all others that are related to that one controversial belief. The media related all of evangelical Christianity to the religious right that wants a theocracy. I personally believe that only the Charismatic end of the spectrum wants

the theocracy yet evangelicals, fundamentalists etc. are lumped with them.

 

3. All believers will become rich: Proverbs 13:22 “…wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.” They teach that the riches of the world will come to the church and this will assist in taking dominion of the world. This is the prosperity teaching of today. This concept is teaching that all believers should be rich and have all that they ask for.

 

My brother attended one of these churches in Washington. The pastor and his wife (both pastors in the church) both drove Mercedes and the ushers took up the offering in five gallon plastic buckets. If the offering wasn’t enough, they would pass the buckets again.

 

4. The Church will evangelize the world, and then Christ can return: Revelation 7:9

 

“After this I beheld and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and peoples, and tongues,”

 

 

This text simply states that there will be believers from all nations etc. in heaven. It does not state that the church must accomplish this before the Lord returns. The how of this is up to God, not man.

 

One final thought in refuting their thinking. Luke 18:8 seems to show that the righteous may not be in the majority when He comes. “Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” The teaching that we are studying requires that the believers overtake the world, not as this verse indicates dwindle to the point that it is questioned whether there will be faithful or not when the Lord returns.

 

SOME OF THE PLAYERS

 

I would like to list some of the different groups that I have run across and comment on their teaching. Some of the groups, I have found no information on so comments will be limited.

 

Latter Rain: A revival broke out in 1948 in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, and Canada. This was likened to the outpouring of the spirit upon those at the Azuza street church when the modern Charismatic Movement was born. (The Azuza street meetings were the foundation of the modern Charismatic movement. People were gathered and they were involved in an outpouring of the Spirit and speaking in tongues.)

 

Out of this revival came revelations that told the leaders that the church had completely misunderstood the great commission and the end times scriptures. This group later gave way to the Manifest Sons Of God.

 

Manifest Sons Of God: They were a Pentecostal group in the 40’s and 50’s. They preached a victorious gospel. Involved in their thinking was the beginnings of the Prosperity theology.

 

They felt that they could come to a point where they could think as God thinks, and operate at the same level of faith as God operates. If the above is true then you will have all that you want and lack nothing. They feel by the use of prosperity and bringing people to righteousness we will bring in the kingdom.

 

 

They are not reconstructionists as such. They felt that they could Christianize through prosperity, rather than reforming society and government.

 

Their new revelations were viewed as equal to, if not above the Scriptures.

 

Kingdom Now: Earl Paulk is the leader and has appeared on the PTL club (Jim Bakker’s show). His church is the Kingdom Church. He has been appointed a Bishop by a group of Charismatic churches.

 

He mentioned in a newsletter called “The Omega Letter” that God wants Christians to be the vehicle by which all kingdoms of the world are brought to be the kingdoms of God. He called for the establishment of the Kingdom Of God now in this time.

 

He mentioned that Christians would begin taking public office in all levels of government. I might mention that this is a great idea, in that we as believers ought to be involved in our government. Indeed, we might be useful in helping turn this country around spiritually. I would disagree that God wants us to set up the kingdom and create a theocracy, however.

 

Coalitions On Morality: A gathering of very dissimilar groups for a common cause, such as abortion. One such group is CAUSA which was set up by Sun Myung Moon (Unification Church).

 

We have seen fundamental Christians beginning to work with Roman Catholics against abortion even though they have very dissimilar backgrounds.

 

Theonomy: DeMar seems to tie theonomy and reconstructionism together in that he uses men from both to back up one of his statements in a footnote. (“The Reduction Of Christianity A Biblical Response To Dave Hunt”; Gary DeMar and Peter Leithard; Dominion Press; Ft Worth; 1988, p 31-32)

 

I would like to just adapt some information from an article in Bib Sac. The article was written by Robert P. Lightner. (Jan-Mar 1986)

 

Who: Lightner mentions that they are from the covenant-Reformed, Westminster tradition. (P 26)

 

 

What: They hold to the postmillennial position and preach that the Mosaic law is for our day. (p 26)

 

Defined: Theonomy comes from two Greek words. One meaning God and one meaning Law.

 

Aim: Basically they want to set up the theocracy that we have already mentioned. They want to institute the Mosaic law as the civil/religious law of the land. They feel that the Church should impose the religious upon all of society. Sounds like the Roman Church in Europe some centuries ago.

(p 29)

 

Pessimists: That’s the good guys. Everything is getting worse until the end times when it will be the worst and Christ will come to restore the heavens and earth to the glories of God.

 

A listing of Dispensational Premillennialists might be in order. D.L. Moody, C.I. Scofield, Alva McClain, Herman Hoyt, Charles Ryrie, Dwight Pentecost, Hal Lindsey, H.A. Ironside, John Walvoord, and many many others.

 

DeMar includes Jimmy Swagart and David Wilkerson in this camp as well. Some of the writings of Jimmy Swagart indicate that he may
be in this camp even though he would disagree in other areas. I have not read nor checked out David Wilkerson.

 

Dominion Theology: DeMar suggests that Christ has a dominion. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Believers are co-heirs with Him so they should also have dominion with Him. This dominion is a bit premature and possibly overstated. The Scripture is plain that we will reign with Him and be with Him in the kingdom and eternity, however there is no indication that this ruling will occur before He comes to set up His kingdom.

 

They feel that as the world sees the believer living within His dominion they will see what the believer is like and the world will begin to change and improve, not by oppression, but by service to mankind. I Think Most Would Agree That The Believer Living Like He Should Would Have A Tremendous Effect On His World.

 

Adam was given dominion in the garden, but blew it when he fell. All now is a work to restore dominion. The believer is to work toward restoring dominion to man in every area of life and they do this through Christ. This by the way is part of the reason that Charismatics believe that women should pastor and preach. They are attempting to get the world back to the pre-fall days when Eve was EQUAL to Adam.

 

Chilton uses a quote by Spurgeon on the back of his book. (Chilton, David; “Paradise Restored”; Ft. Worth: Dominion Press)

 

“‘It would be easy to show that at our present rate of progress the kingdoms of his world never could become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ. Indeed, many in the Church are giving up the idea of it except on the occasion of the advent of Christ, which, as it chimes in with our own idleness, is likely to be a popular doctrine. I myself believe that King Jesus will reign, and the idols be utterly abolished; but I expect the same power which turned the world upside down once will still continue to do it. The Holy Ghost would never suffer the imputation to rest upon His holy name that He was not able to convert the world.’“

 

I’ve attempted to locate this quote but have not been able to at this point. I’m not sure that Spurgeon meant what the Dominionist means, but there is a lot of truth in what he said. We would agree that at the present rate the world cannot merge into the kingdom as a righteous body of believers. We would agree that the Holy Spirit could transform the world into a Christian world; however this does not mean that He is going to do it to bring in the kingdom.

 

He also quotes other big names and indicates that they were in agreement with his thinking. A study of each man’s belief systems would be required to prove that they indeed, were in agreement with Mark Chilton. He quotes John Milton, St. Athanasius, and others.

 

They suggest that man in salvation is restored to his original state which assures that he will fulfill his calling and purpose. (Chilton, David; “Paradise Restored”; Ft. Worth: Dominion Press, p 25)

 

They see the cross as the final and ultimate judgment on the Devil and that he is of no problem to the believer today.

 

He gives a lot of information that is not footnoted and as such very suspect to me. Example: He mentions that Columbus was not only looking for a new route to the Indies but that his journal was full of references from Isaiah that prove that he was interested in expanding the kingdom to

the Indies. This may well be. I might suggest that he was looking to expand the Roman Church kingdom by seeking riches for the Queen. If fact the American Indians call him a very greedy person based on his desire to enrich the Queen. (1992 Columbus day celebrations were hampered because of demonstrations against Columbus.)

 

Chilton identifies solidly with the postmillennial position thus identifying dominionism with reconstructionism.

 

DeMar, on the other hand, seems to give the reconstructionist the stance of not using politics as a part of their movement.

 

Some question where Pat Robertson stands. He seems to feel that reform through government is right. This was the reasoning behind his running for president of the United States.

 

As I see it in my study, the postmillennialist, dominionist, reconstructionist, are all the same with the Manifest sons of God. I don’t know if they would hold to the “new” revelation of the Manifest sons or not. (The Omega letter classes Pat Robertson as a reconstructionist.)

 

Kingdom Theology: DeMar suggests that the terms kingdom theology and dominion theology are used by some interchangeably. The two are very similar in nature. Kingdom theology is an intellectualization of the dominion theology. The dominionist has the belief, and is working toward fulfilling that belief, while the kingdomist is doing all this plus trying to figure out when the kingdom is. Is it now, is it future, is it real, and is it spiritual.

 

Both seek to gain good in the world by works of the believer.

 

Transformation Theology: They believe that God is involved in saving the whole person, body/soul/spirit/social/etc., and that he is doing this in this life.

 

This is some information from a paper published by the Fellowship Of Missions. (The article was “Transformation Theology”) “The term ‘social transformation’ was lauded as one that could include both the spiritual and the social aspects of the Church’s duty and thereby a wholistic expression of its mandate.”

 

In speaking of redemption, they don’t “‘…see the mission of the Church as the saving of disembodied souls to go to heaven’ out there.’ Rather, this statement is based on the premise that God intends to redeem whole persons…body, mind and soul, and God intends to redeem His creation bringing into being a new heaven and a new earth.’“

 

Reconstruction Theology: The following are some that I have seen listed as being in the movement:

 

R.J. Rushdoony, Greg L. Bahnsen, James Jordan, Ray Sutton, David Chilton, George Grant, Gary DeMar, Peter Leithard, Dr. Gary North, Abraham Kyuper, American Vision, Chalcedon Foundation, Geneva Ministries, Institute for Christian Economics, Counsel of Chalcedon

 

They follow their roots at least back to the Puritans, but some indicate the current movement finds its beginnings in the 60’s. They feel that the humanistic world order is in error, but that there is a Biblical world order that is to be brought in by the reconstructionists. The Biblical world order is founded in the Old Testament, in that the Old Testament was God’s plan for the entire world and not just the faithful. The whole world is to follow the Old Testament ways to the restoration of the Biblical world order. This determines that the Church will be victorious over the world system of the Devil. The Churches victory will come through social reform or reconstruction.

 

The Church will not only be victorious over the world order, but over all of the isms of the day including the New Age movement. It should also be observed that they are attempting to put down even pessimism — the dispensationalist.

 

They see the transformation in all areas of life including such things as Ecology, mandating lower taxes and governmental change. I assume by governmental change that he has in mind a reconstructionist government. Can you show me anywhere that the Lord desires of us to take over governments and set up our own?

 

 

DeMar charges that Hunt in “The Seduction Of Christianity”, correctly shoots down the new age movement, but that he offers nothing in place of it. Reconstructionism however replaces the error of the new age with the truth of reconstructionism. My first thought was that both new age and the reconstructionist feels that by faithful work of their followers they can bring in a utopia. If I were a reconstructionist I would feel very uneasy with being identical in goal and method with the new age movement.

 

They hold to hold that the Old Testament law is for use today. They seem to follow the philosophy and thinking of VanTil, however I don’t think that VanTil was a reconstructionist. They view the entire world as ultimately coming under the authority of the Lord through their efforts.

 

Kuyper held that Calvinism related to every area of life and this led to the thought system of VanTil. Though they follow VanTil and Kuyper they differ in that VanTil did not hold to their thinking and Kuyper was an Amillennialist. He did not see the church as being ultimately victorious.

 

There are a couple of articles concerning this topic that might be of interest. Christianity Today, Feb. 20, 1987, Democracy as Heresy, Rodney Clapp. Voice (IFCA’s Magazine), July/August (don’t know the year), The Lure Of Reconstructionist Theology, Jarl K. Waggoner.

 

Coalition On Revival: This seems to be a coalition of both sides. They attempt to find common ground on the real meaning of the Kingdom of God.

 

PEOPLE

 

Gary North, R.J. Rushdooney, Bob Weiner, Bob Mumford, Ed McAtee, R. E. McMaster, Dr. James Kennedy

 

THE FOLLOWING ARE ON THE STEERING COMMITTEE LISTED ON THEIR LETTERHEAD

 

Dr. Gleason Archer Ph.D, Gary DeMar, Dr. Duane Gish Ph.D., Dr. James Kennedy Ph.D., Mrs. Beverly LaHaye, Dr. Tim LaHaye D.Min., Dr. Harold Lindsell Ph.D., Rev. David P. Mains, Dr. Josh McDowell D.D, Bob Mumford, Dr. Gary North Ph.D., Dr. Raymond Ortlund D.D., Dr. J.I. Packer Ph.D., Dr. RJ Rushdooney Ph.D., Dr. Robert Saucy Th.D., Mark Franky Schaeffer, Dr. Jack Van Impe Ph.D., Brother Andrew

 

Some Conclusions To The End Times Positions: To draw the end time’s positions to a close, I would like to recap some items that need to be understood in the multiple views of how God will end His present age.

 

1. The people we have been discussing are believers for the most part, if not all of them.

 

2. We need to treat one another as such, even though we disagree.

 

3. All are dispensationalists of some sort, even though some of them deny it. None of them bring sacrifices to the church and most see different governing relationships between God and man.

 

4. When you have a new thought introduced to you or a new interpretation, take time to study that verse or the thought. Check several commentaries. Try it in relation to other verses you know relate. Check it out. Accept, reject or hold for further thought. When verses are used, be sure that you consider the context of the passage. Most of these varying positions misuse Scripture to arrive at their interpretations.

 

5. If you don’t know if something is true — don’t present it in a lesson or sermon. If you are fairly sure you have the truth and you’ve checked your thinking with some knowledgeable men — teach it.

 

6. The pretrib/premill position is:

 

The most logical position. If God is trying to communicate with us, the literal method of interpretation would be the best method for Him to use. We have seen that this type of interpretation leads to pretrib/premill.

 

This is the most trouble free position. You have few problem passages to deal with. All verses that relate to prophecy seem to fit into this system easily.

 

The system presents hope to the Church in that we will not have to go through the terrible time of tribulation that is coming to the earth. I might qualify that statement. The position offers more hope than any of the other systems that believe in a tribulation. Some of the systems just ignore the fact that there is going to be one. They spiritualize all of that prophecy and say that we are going through those problems today.

 

Lastly, what good, what purpose and what result would come from having the Church go through the tribulation? As I have studied the positions I have never seen an author that stated a need for, nor a purpose for the church being in the tribulation.

 

God seems in all ages to have a plan and a purpose. If there is a no purpose for the Church in the tribulation, if there is no profit for the church in the tribulation, then why would God allow the Church to go through such a horrible time?

 

Related to this — there is no proof text that says the Church will be in the tribulation. Indeed, to have the Church present in the tribulation would be an argument from silence.

 

 

HEAVEN

 

The classic story concerning death and graveyards is the question, “Why do they have fences around graveyards?” People are just dying to get in. In reality, people ought to be dying to accept the Lord so they can enter into heaven.

 

Heaven, when I was a child was that which religious leaders talked about, and that place which I assumed that I would go to. It was in my mind a place, rather than an existence. It was up there somewhere above the clouds and beyond the stars, where God had prepared a beautiful utopia for those of us that were to go.

 

Heaven in reality is much more than a place. It is eternity, it is eternity with our Lord and Savior, it is eternity with all the saints of all time, and it is eternity with peace.

 

We might make mention of one other fact that was long in coming to light in my foggy mind. All of mankind, past, present and future have eternal existence. The quality of that existence is the problem. Some have eternity in all that is good, while others have eternity in all that is bad. We will spend eternity in one existence or the other. The choice is up to the person.

 

LENGTH OF ETERNITY

 

Hendrick Van Loon a Dutch historian in a book called, “The Story Of Mankind”, suggests that eternity is something like this: “High up in the North, in the land called Svitjod, there stands a rock. It is one hundred miles high, and one hundred miles wide. Once every thousand years, a little bird comes to this rock to sharpen its beak. When the rock has thus been worn away, then a single day of Eternity will have gone by.” (Tan, Paul L.; “The Interpretation Of Prophecy”; Rockville, MD: Assurance Publishing,

p 358)

 

 

TAN SUGGESTS ANOTHER ILLUSTRATION

 

“When a baby is born, he is — 0 Years Old. If properly cared for, he becomes — 10 Years Old. If very properly cared for, we add another zero –

– 100 Years Old. Now, suppose we continue to add zeros: If we should fill the remaining pages of this book with zeros, and cover the earth and universe with zeros — and then comprehend its total value — we shall have discovered the length of one day in Eternity.”

 

And, We All Know That The Illustration Is Not Even Accurate, For We Cannot Comprehend The Values Listed, Nor Can Man Fathom The Length Of A Day In Eternity. Indeed, it could be 24 hours long.

 

REALITY IN AMERICA

 

Newsweek March 27, 1989 had an article that listed some statistics of interest. It detailed the fact that many do not believe in a literal hell, and that many do not believe in heaven. That should key us into some thinking about how we witness. If many Americans don’t believe in Hell, then we ought to use this concept in our witnessing to people.

 

Changing Views Of Heaven: The article has some interesting information.

 

Roman Catholic: Since Vatican II much literature has been set forth from the church, yet nothing has been mentioned about hell. The Newsweek article mentioned a Catholic Theologian, James Burtchaell, that feels that eternity is underway at this point in time. What you do here determines your relationship with God as you go forward in eternity. You will change modes of existence somewhere along the line.

 

I would agree in thought to the fact that eternity is now going on — that when we change modes of existence we will have a set relationship with God. The difference between us would be that his relationship seems based on works while the Bible requires that the relationship be based on the person of Jesus Christ.

 

Evangelicals: The article mentions that the evangelicals are changing their thinking about heaven and hell. This is evident in the fact that they don’t talk about hell anymore. The author suggests that some are having a hard time stressing the Christ only method of salvation. They struggle with good men like Gandhi spending eternity in hell.

 

UNCHANGING VIEWS OF HEAVEN

 

Fundamentalists: The author mentions that the fundamentalists still have a strong belief in heaven and hell. I suspect that they may be wrong, however because many do not preach about hell anymore.

 

The article also gives some other views of hell that might interest you if you can find the magazine in a library.

 

LET US CONSIDER SOME FACTS ABOUT HEAVEN

 

1. There will be many mansions. John 14 1-3

 

2. We will recognize others. Luke 16:19-31 tells of the account of the rich man and Lazarus, and the rich man recognized those on the other side of Sheol. The transfiguration would indicate this fact of recognition as well.

 

3. We will have eternal life. The New Testament is full of references to our eternal nature with God. One we might mention is 1 Thessalonians 4:16-

18. Vs. 17 mentions, “…and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

 

4. Some view Romans 8:22-23 as proof there will be animal life in eternity. The whole of creation was affected by the fall. There were animals before the fall; all creation was affected by the fall so the restoration of things should include animals. We know there is plant life in eternity, and there are animals in the millennium, so there may be animal life in eternity. I’m not saying, folks, there will be a kitty and puppy heaven, but there may be animals. We might mention the fact that Christ returns on a horse, thus possibly indicating animals in eternity. Revelation 19:11ff You must remember there will be 1000 years between this occasion and eternity, so

it may not indicate animals in eternity.

 

4. We will have new bodies. Philippians 3:21

 

5. We will be with Christ. John 17:24, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me….”

 

 

6. We will have pleasure. Psalm 16:11, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”

 

7. We will have joy. Psalm 16:11. The contrast of pleasure and joy would be the tortures of torment.

 

8. It is a specific place. 1 Peter 1:4 tells us that something can be stored there.

 

9. It will be with God. Luke 11:2

 

10. It will be with the angels. Matthew 22:30

 

11. We will be like Christ. 1 John 3:2. Some heavy thoughts there. Be like Christ. See Him.

 

12. It is far better than this life. Phil 1:23

 

13. It will be beautiful. Revelation 21 This describes the new Jerusalem.

 

Lest Someone Embarrass You, May I Relate There Is Only One Street Of Gold. (There may be more, but the Revelation only mentions one.)

 

14. There will be worship. Revelation 19:1

 

15. There will be rewards. Revelation 22:12

 

16. The light will be from Christ. Revelation 21:23

 

17. It will be a holy place. Revelation 21:27

 

18. There will be no tears/death/sorrow/crying/pain. Revelation 21:4

 

19. There will be no curse. Revelation 22:3

 

20. Based on our being like Christ and what we know of His post resurrection body, we assume the following will be true. Capacity to eat, if we want to. Capacity to move through walls. Some physical features — the wounds of the cross and lance. Communication skills.

 

21. It is up. Acts 1:9, in speaking of Christ being taken it states, “…he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.”

 

 

22. Misc. items: Created by God, Genesis 1:1; Everlasting; High, Psalm 103:11; God’s dwelling place — Matthew 6:9.

 

EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS OF HEAVEN

 

1. Christ: He spoke of it, as one that has firsthand knowledge in that it is his eternal home, both past, present, and future.

 

2. Paul mentions it: 2 Corinthians 12:1-9 He mentions being caught up to the third heaven.

 

3. John: Revelation 4:1-2 mentions him being caught up. He saw the throne scene of God.

 

4. Old Testament saints: Isaiah and Ezekiel both observed the throne scene.

 

I assume that heaven will be the complete opposite of the place of torment. This would mean that heaven will be as peaceful as torment is without peace. This would mean that heaven will be as beautiful as torment is dark. This would mean that heaven will be as neat as torment is terrible. This would mean that heaven will be everything that torment is not.

 

At Any Rate, Torment Is Not A Place To Desire To Be.

 

I would guess that a study of torment would give a real appreciation for what we will have in eternity with God. We will have a study on hell next.

 

IN THE PRACTICAL AREA WE MIGHT CONSIDER

 

1. We will be able to accept ourselves as God accepts us.

 

2. We will be satisfied for the first time in our existence.

 

3. We will totally enjoy every moment of all of eternity. Never bored.

 

4. We will have total and free access to Christ and all the other saints of all times. Imagine those potlucks.

 

5. It will mean never having indigestion.

 

 

6. It will mean having hair or not having hair — depending on which is really heavenly. If there is hair in the spiritual realm.

 

7. Never having those problems with the dentist.

 

8. This list could go on forever. Indeed, It Will….

 

Heaven should be a glorious thought to the believer, not something to be shunned or avoided in preference to worldly things, activities nor desires. A couple of quotes will show how some believers have reacted to the thought of heaven.

 

Heaven

 

“Origin of ‘Sweet By-and-By

 

The origin of the familiar hymn, ‘In the Sweet By-and-By,’ is given by a writer in The Christian Advocate, and it is a story of unusual interest. Sanford F. Bennett was a New Englander with a gift of writing verses, who in 1836 removed to Elkhorn, Wisconsin, where he conducted a drug store. Joseph P. Webster, also a New Englander who had come to Elkhorn, had some musical skill, and Bennett and he became intimate friends. Webster, who was subject to moods of depression, one day in 1867 went into Bennett’s store and stood at the stove without speaking to anyone. Bennett saw he was depressed, and here the story runs as follows: ‘Seeing that something was wrong, the latter asked, ‘What is the matter now?’ ‘It is no matter,’ Webster replied. ‘It will be all right by and by.’ Like a flash the idea of the hymn came to Bennett, who exclaimed, ‘The Sweet By-and- By. Would not that make a good hymn?’ ‘Maybe it would,’ returned Webster indifferently. Bennett turned to his desk and in a few minutes handed Webster the paper containing his verses. Meanwhile two friends, N. H. Carswell and S.E. Bright, had entered. They watched Webster as he read the words. Bennett said: ‘Ad he read it his eyes kindled, his whole demeanor changed. Stepping to the desk he began writing notes rapidly. Presently, taking a violin, he played the melody. In a few moments more he had the notes for the four parts of the chorus jotted down.’ It was not half an hour from the time Bennett began writing before the four men were singing the hymn in the form in which it was afterward published in the ‘Signet Ring.’ It was while they were singing it that R.R. Crosby came in, and after hearing the song, cried out, with tears in his eyes, ‘That hymn is immortal.’”

 

“‘It was in 1876 that I wrote ‘Beulah Land,’ said Mark Stites. ‘I could write only two verses and the chorus of ‘Beulah Land’ when I was overcome and fell on my face. I could only weep and write no more. That was on Sunday. On the following Sunday I wrote the third and fourth verses and again I was so influenced by emotion that I could only pray and weep. The first time it was sung was at the regular Monday morning meeting of Methodist ministers at 1018 Arch Street, Philadelphia. Bishop McCabe sang it to the assembled ministers. Since then its story is known wherever religious people congregate.’“ (Lawson, James Gilghrist, “Best Sermon Pictures”; Chicago: Moody Press, No copyright.)

 

Might I challenge you to come to a place in your life when you shed tears of joy over the thrills of eternity with the Father, but at the same time be able to shed tears of sorrow over the torment of the lost.

 

This study should not end without comment on what has been termed near death or after death experiences. These experiences are related to us from people that have died and then been brought back to life, or people that were very near death.

 

The experiences vary around the basic, seeing of bright light down a long corridor and a being at the end calling them. These people are certain they were on their way to heaven to be with God.

 

A couple of thoughts that you might be able to use in relation to this discussion. First, the fact that this is almost a universal experience with the near death people, leads me to believe they would have us believe that all people that die are going to heaven. The Scripture is quite definite on the falseness of that theory.

 

Second, in recent days doctors are finding out that the people that were pronounced dead may not have been really dead. They have found that people with no pulse, may have a pulse so weak that the doctor cannot feel it with his finger. Research in such cases with new technology has

proven that in some cases the pulse is there, but is very weak. The pulse is large enough to keep blood going through the brain, which would allow for impressions of light etc. to be retained in the memory. Indeed, this bright light may well be that viewed through their closed eyelids and the voice may well be that of doctors or friends.

 

To accept these experiences as real and allow them to contradict the clear teaching of Scripture is foolish. We must take such experiences as suspect, but truly the experience of the person.

 

We might well be glad for the usual change of life for the better in the people that have had these experiences.

 

Heaven will undoubtedly be a picture of all that God is and all that He can do, so we can only hint at what it might be like.

 

 

HELL

 

Hell is a subject that is very much misunderstood by many people, both saved and lost. As this study progresses some of these mistaken concepts will be mentioned.

 

We don’t have a lot of information about the eternal state of the lost person, yet we have enough facts to give the thinking person reason to consider carefully the Lord’s work on the cross for them.

 

Many today suggest that we shouldn’t scare people into hell. To this I ask, “Why did Christ talk so much about it for then?” I have heard many

many testimonies of people that accepted the Lord because they had heard of hell and did not want to go there. Fear of the Lord may well involve the fear of his judgments and justice.

 

Let us begin with a story. A man died and found himself near a large entry way. He was ushered into a large mansion, and was told that all that he desired would be presented to him. He began asking for the many things that he had enjoyed on earth. All these items were delivered immediately. He began to ask for things that he had never had on earth, and these as well were delivered.

 

He realized after a time that all of the items he had desired had grown common and uninteresting. He requested to see the earth again, and this was granted. He gazed upon the sickness, poverty and war. His return to his mansion and things left him yearning for something more.

 

The man finally asked if he could have a peek into the place of torment — hell. The man standing before him asked, “So where do you think you are?” (adapted from Woodson, Leslie H., “Hell And Salvation”; Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1973, p 35)

 

Many in our day question the existence of hell. It has been reported that someone said to Hugh Hephner, the publisher of Playboy magazine, at a party, “If there is a hell — I’d sure hate to be you.”

 

 

VIEWS OF HELL

 

There are four major schools of thought concerning hell.

 

1. It Is Everlasting Punishment:

 

Some that have defended and preached this position: Tertullian, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Wesley brothers, Chrysostom, Ambrose, Wyclif, Savonarola, Whitefield, Edwards, Spurgeon, Moody, and many others.

 

Some creeds and works that have proclaimed this position: Athanasian Creed, Augsburg Confession, The City Of God by Augustine, Summa Theologica by Lombard, Institutes of the Christian Religion by Calvin, Paradise Lost by Milton, and Pilgrim’s Progress by Bunyon.

 

Simply put the position views hell as an eternal torment for the lost of all ages. Hell is a general term for the place. It is also known in the eternal state as the lake of fire. In the pre-resurrections era it is termed Sheol.

 

Some view hell as a place where the lost go, but never realize that Sheol and the Lake of Fire are also involved.

 

2. It Is Annihilation:

 

This position holds that God and good are eternal, but that Satan and evil are temporary and will be destroyed in the end. This translates into the lost being annihilated in the end.

 

Some of those holding this thought: Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Richard Wahatley, Richard Tothe, Albert Ritschl, Horace Bushnell Franz Delitzsh, and Henry Drummond.

 

3. Universalism:

 

This view believes there is a remedial effect to hell, and that God is trying to turn His erring children around.

 

Some that teach the position: Origen, Charles Chauncy, Immanuel, Kant, Friedrich Schleiermacher, and Alfred Tennyson.

 

4. Second Chanceism:

 

 

This view sees that during this time before eternity that the rejectors are in torment, but this is only till the end at which time all will be given a second chance. Turn, and the torment is over. Indeed, I think that the Mormon’s view that all will turn or be destroyed. When doing door to door evangelism in Colorado Springs years ago I was witnessing to a Mormon and he told me that he believed that hell was for the purification of those that did not believe in this life. All would one day accept Mormon teachings of God or be destroyed.

 

THE PRINCIPLE OF SEPARATION IS UNIVERSAL IN GOD’S PLAN

 

1. This can be seen in the nature of the soul. Man was created in the image of God. From the beginning of a soul it must be eternal toward the future to be in the image of God. If an eternal soul is not in a fit condition to be with God, then there must be a place for that soul to reside throughout eternity.

 

2. Separation is a principal of life and nature. The dead are separated from the living. We separate the criminals from the good citizens. (At least in most countries. I’m not sure about the US anymore.) Garbage is separated from good food. Trash is separated from good items. Lepers were separated from healthy people before there was a cure for the disease. Christ will separate souls, the good from the bad. “Those who refuse life in God become ‘refuse’ in character sooner or later, and in the nature of things must be removed to a place apart.” (Dixon)

 

3. From the principle of Consequence. No consequence — no restraint. That’s why God gave capital punishment — to deter killing. He gave hell to deter sin and rebellion. This has a very strong effect on those that believe in hell or eternal punishment. Many religions have very strong — good behavior due to their teaching of torment.

 

4. History tells us that a place of torment is a universal concept. All peoples have tried to please the gods to escape future punishment. They have all had some concept of good place/bad place. The burial crypts of the world give evidence of a belief in an afterlife. The ancient civilizations placed food and water in containers so the person could have them in the next life. Indeed, some of them buried the wife and servants for the man to enjoy in the next life. Most peoples have served gods of one sort or another out of fear of displeasing the god involved.

 

5. Luke 16:21 and context show there is existence after death.

 

6. All of Scripture declares a place of punishment.

 

THE TERMS

 

In the New Testament there are three Greek words translated Hell.

 

1. “Gehen’na” (gheh’en nah) Valley of Hinnom outside Jerusalem (Taken from: “Unger’s Bible Dictionary”; Unger, Merrill F.; Copyright 1957, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago; Moody Press. Used by permission. pp. 394,395) “…a deep, narrow glen to the south of Jerusalem, where the Jews offered their children to Moloch (2 Kings 23:10; [Verses 13, 14 show it

was a burning place for corpses (Josiah did this. Also 2 Chronicles 33:6] Jeremiah 7:31; 19:2-6). In later times it served as a receptacle of all sorts of putrefying matter, and all that defiled the holy city, and so became the representative image of the place of everlasting punishment, especially on account of its ever-burning fires; and to this fact the words of Christ refer when he says ‘the fire is not quenched.’“

 

In Christ’s day this dump burned day and night. This is probably the final resting place and probably is equal to the lake of fire in Revelation.

 

2. “hades” This word is indicative of the intermediate state for the Old Testament dead, and since Christ the dwelling place of the unrighteous dead.

 

Things to be learned from this term.

 

a. Lost of Old Testament are in misery from death.

 

b. Lost of New Testament are in misery from death.

 

c. Saved of Old Testament were there until the resurrection of Christ, but now are gone. (Luke 16:19-31 shows the two sides of hades. Acts 2:27 shows David was to be there for a time. David was looking forward to Christ’s resurrection when he spoke of hades. Verse 31 shows he was taken out at Christ’s resurrection.)

 

 

Revelation 20:13 shows hades giving up the lost souls at the end. Revelation 20:14 mentions that hades is cast into the lake of fire. This term is also translated grave. 1 Corinthians 15:55, “Oh grave, where is thy victory.”

 

The joy of the study is that Hades cannot hold the redeemed, for it could not hold Christ.

 

3. “Tar taro’o” This word is only used once. 2 Peter 2:4. Angels cast into hell to await judgment. This may be the name for the great gulf that is mentioned in the Luke 16 passage. Most feel that II Peter is speaking of this location.

 

THE LOCATION

 

I once heard a young Methodist theologian mention that hell was, “Southern California.” I don’t think that this would be a provable fact, and YES, he was joking.

 

I would like to just list some references and some information that we can draw from them. Numbers 16:30, 33 indicate that it is below the surface of the earth in the Old Testament times. Luke 16:23 indicates that it was still below in the New Testament period of time.

 

As to the lake of fire which will be the eternal dwelling place of the lost, we are not told in scripture just where it is. Some feel that Isaiah 66:22-24 speaks of the redeemed being able to view the lost in the eternal state. Revelation 14:9-11; Revelation 22:15 also indicate this as a possibility. If this be true, then there is a possibility that it is just outside the New Jerusalem as the original hell of Christ’s time was. That city dump of the New Testament day.

 

BASIS OF OCCUPANCY

 

Just who will occupy this place of torment, and why. The Scripture teaches that all mankind will be judged according to his or her works. Within this concept is one special consideration and that is the decision for or against Christ. The decision to accept Christ places the person in eternal joy, while a decision to reject Christ places the person in eternal torment.

 

 

After this decision is made there is still a principle of being judged according to the works of the person.

 

Indeed, the Great White Throne shows there will be levels of torment in that they are judged according to their works. The redeemed receive a varying reward, thus it would also be logical that the lost would also receive a varying degree of torment.

 

For the saved, works will determine the amount and type of rewards. The lost will be tormented according to their works. Lost is lost, yet there will be levels of being tormented it seems. (Romans 2:5,6, “Who will render to every man according to his deeds:”; Matthew 11:20-24 mentions that it will be more tolerable for some cities than others in the judgment/Matthew 10:15 is a similar idea; Luke 12:47,48 I don’t like to base things on parables, yet this one seems to indicate our point; Revelation 20:12,13, vs. 13, “…and they were judged every man according to their works.”)

 

Even some of the isms of our day teach this concept of works being a part of judgment. Zoroastrianism for example teaches that the person must

pass a bridge of judgment. If his good works outweigh his bad the bridge is wide and easy to cross. However if his bad works outweigh his good the bridge becomes narrow as a blade as he reaches the middle and he slides into hell. Hell is a temporary place for these souls, but while there they are tortured beyond belief. This torture is according to their lives and how

they lived. I ran across an illustration of the type
of torture. A man that had committed adultery was placed in a boiling pot, but because he had killed many dirty creatures with his foot, the foot was left out of the pot so it would not suffer. (From Persian Mythology; John R. Hinnells; Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited; London; 1973) P 66)

 

There won’t be any complaint about final punishment it seems. Luke 16:29-31 tells us that the rich man did not complain about anything. His only desire was to keep his brothers from the same fate.

 

DURATION

 

We have already seen that some believe that this is a forever situation while others see it as a temporary situation. Forever or annihilation is the question. The word for eternal seems to be eternal in nature at all times.

 

 

“That the ‘second death’ (‘Lake of Fire’) or gehenna is not annihilation is shown clearly by Revelation 19:20 and 20:10. After 1000 years in the Like of Fire the Beast and False Prophet still exist there undestroyed.” (Taken from: “Unger’s Bible Dictionary”; Unger, Merrill F.; Copyright 1957, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago; Moody Press. Used by permission. pp. 394,395) Rev.19:20 states that the Beast and False Prophet into Lake of Fire; 20:3 sets time before Millennium; 20:10 shows that the Devil is cast in 1000 years later and the Beast and False Prophet are still there.)

 

There are a couple of other indications that would show that the condition of the lost is not annihilation. The angels in hell do not seem to be annihilated either. (2 Peter 2:4) We have seen that Revelation 20:13 and others show punishment is according to works. Why judge according to works if all are to be consumed?

 

The fallen angels, including Satan will be in the lake of fire, and they are ever living spirit beings. When man dies, they become a spirit being, thus by deduction man also would be an ever living being as well.

 

Eternal hell is the easiest interpretation you can find. Any other interpretation is forced and causes doctrinal problems. Since the same term is used of God and hell, to have one mean the stopping of existence and another usage to show continuing existence is illogical.

 

LIVING CONDITIONS

 

I will just list some conditions with references and some comments.

 

Darkness: Psalm 49:19 “never see light”; 1 Samuel 2:7-9 they will be silent in darkness (same word) as in Genesis 1:4 God divided light from darkness.

 

If you go into a seemingly dark room you will find after a while that you will be able to see something. But deep darkness is not so. While in the Navy I needed a part to repair the radar. We were with a number of other ships during a war games situation, so the radar was needed right away. During such operations the ships run under what is called “darken ship” condition. This means that all outside hatches are closed and no light is allowed out on deck. The parts area was not accessible to me from the radar room by going inside the ship, so I was forced to go out on deck.

 

 

Remember — no light — none — and it was very cloudy on top of everything which meant no star or moon light. Dark is the term. Imagine trying to walk outside on the deck unable to see anything — groping with your hands — hoping nothing is in your way — the ship pitching and rolling slightly — just enough to make it hard to keep you orientation. When you finally see light there is such an overwhelming relief.

 

Imagine — eternity — ever in darkness — in fear of what’s around you. How many of you were afraid of the dark when you were small. I used to get just as scared as Ichabod Craine did in the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Ichabod was riding on a dark lonely road. Fear was already in his mind. “Suddenly he heard a groan — his teeth chattered, and his knees smote against the saddle; it was but the rubbing of one huge bough upon another, as they were swayed about by the breeze. He passed the tree in safety, but new perils lay before him.” He sees an unknown rider in the shadows. I won’t continue with the story because of its length, but I think that you get the idea.

 

I trust that you have some concept of what the lost will go through in everlasting darkness. Matthew 8:12 mentions outer darkness as well.

 

Binding: Those that say they’ll be shaking hands with friends may be wrong. From Matthew 22:13 we see they will be unable to use their hands and feet. If this is true then the muscular discomfort will be tremendous. We went to a service in a home. The service was in the basement. The service ended in a time of prayer. We kneeled for prayer. The room was crowded and there was little room to kneel. I only had room to get down on one knee. Before it was over my legs were giving me fits. I was very near tears because of the pain in my knees.

 

The armed forces have developed ways of placing people in a completely immobile state. They are floated in a body of water for prolonged periods of time. This is with no sight and sound — it is very disorientating.

 

What could you do in a motionless state? You could think about things — dream — worry — etc., but sooner or later the inactivity would begin to wear heavy on a person mentally.

 

 

Separation: Have you ever stared at the stars and just let your mind wonder — how far away they are, how lonely they seem. The lost will be separated from one another.

 

Imagine never using eyes, hands, feet. Total separation from everything but torment and thoughts. The voice will only be used for cries of torment. There will be no one near enough to talk to, or hear you. Jude 13 mentions wandering stars which indicates a separation. At any rate it is a certainty that it is a separation from God and all that is good.

 

Memory: Luke 16 pictures the rich man as remembering his brothers that have not died. (No Hope, Isaiah 38:18; Proverbs 11 7, “When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish; and the hope of unjust men perisheth.”

 

Fire: There will be fire. The type of fire has been questioned over the years. Since there is darkness, there cannot be light from fire, which leads some to believe that it will be a very hot and pure fire. (Jude 7 “…eternal fire….” Matthew 5:22; Mark 9:44.)

 

Questionable Companions: Revelation 21:8; Revelation 22:15.

 

Lust And Desire: Revelation 22:11.

 

Pain And Torment: Luke 16:23 “…being in torments….” Luke 16:24 “…I am tormented in this flame.”

 

Conclusions:

 

Maybe now when we talk about the lost you will have a more concerned attitude. Christianity needs a healthy dose of the Hell fire and brimstone preaching of yester year to stir their hearts. Men, women, boys and girls are going to hell every day. Our responsibility is to tell them of the saving power of Christ.

 

The Lost. Think about their state. God has prepared for Christians a mighty, glorious abode. A city of mansions. A city for His own people. I have no doubt that hell will be just as horrible for the sinner as heaven is glorious for the saint.

 

As I’ve said, “Hell is only a four letter word.” But remember its home for the lost for eternity and that makes it a mighty important word. The next time you ask someone where they’re going and they reply, “To hell if I don’t change my ways.” will you still feel like laughing?

 

Hell must, by proper interpretation of Scripture be a place, a place of torment, a place of eternal torment run on a system of levels so that the damned can be judged according to their works.

 

The only escape route from this horrible destiny is through the blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. So what, some would say. Let me illustrate. In the Navy we had to go through firefighting training. They had a large oil pond they would set afire. We had to move in with an umbrella spray unit that protected us from the heat. As we were fairly near they shut the

water off (which was protecting us from the heat) for just an instant. The heat was tremendous — our faces were in immediate pain though we weren’t burned. They did this to show us how dangerous fire could be when it was that large. If you’ve experienced great heat you’ll have some idea of what the lost are enduring now and what the living lost face.

 

As a child I used to think that pain was mind over matter. I used to love to swing higher and higher, but to go high you had to work at it. I used to wear blisters on my hands. I always tried to put the pain out of my mind, but never succeeded. This is only a trifle when compared to the pain and flame of hell. Can you imagine having to suffer that pain forever?

 

As you cannot imagine how glorious heaven is going to be you cannot imagine how horrible hell is going to be. If the demons were in fear of Hell and torment it must be bad.

 

Another point to ponder. Scripture does not teach that God gives you a second chance. Some teach today that God will hold up judgment long enough to give everyone a second chance to accept Christ. This is false hope and false teaching. As breath leaves your body your eternity is sealed

— your destiny is set. Getting to your final dwelling place is only a very brief formality.

 

Hell — a four letter cuss word now, but the most significant word of all to the lost. Consider Hell as you witness. It might put a little fire into your witnessing.

 

 

I would suggest reading some of the old time sermons from Moody, Spurgeon etc. to get a feel of some of the preaching on hell. Many of the great revivals were based in part on the clear preaching of hell. Don’t be afraid to preach on hell today. I have ventured onto this limb a number of times and the response has been very positive. Indeed, some have been saved, even in the 80’s and 90’s with such preaching.

 

Christ spoke often of hell and the conditions there, so we as His followers ought to preach of the same.

 

 

THEOLOGY — CAN’T FAIL QUIZ

 

This is a test I have given to classes on eschatology before the study begins. It is a study that will show you what you know or don’t know, as the case may be. Feel free to leave blanks or guess to your heart’s desire. As you progress through the study you will be able to check your answers.

 

List the following items on the time line provided below.

 

Tribulation Church Age Kingdom Eternity Lake of Fire

Resurrection of the dead Church age Translation of the living church age Resurrection of the Jews Resurrection of the lost

Great White Throne Judgment seat of Christ Satan’s captivity

DEFINE THE FOLLOWING TERMS

 

1. The Rapture:

 

2. Partial Rapture:

 

3. Tribulation:

 

4. The Great Tribulation:

 

 

5. Midtribulationism:

 

6. Posttribulationism:

 

7. Millennium:

 

8. Amillennialism:

 

9. Premillennialism:

 

10. Postmillennialism:

 

11. Kingdom Theology:

 

12. Covenant Theology:

 

13. The Great White Throne:

 

14. The Judgment Seat Of Christ:

 

15. Heaven:

 

16. Hell:

 

17. Allegorical Interpretation:

 

18. Literal Interpretation:

 

This is a listing of books, authors, and positions. I trust that these are placed in the proper theological positions. I have listed the men and their books as I or some other author has viewed them. I trust that if there are errors in judgment in any of these listings that the men involved would contact me so that any mistakes can be corrected in future copies. The original list that I worked from is found on pages 123-126 of Prophecy In The Ring by Robert P. Lightner, however I have added to this list over time.

 

AMILLENNIALISM

 

Adams, Jay. “The Time Is At HandAllis, O.T. Prophecy And The ChurchCox, William E. Amillennialism Today

Hamilton, Floyd E. The Basis Of Millennial Faith

 

 

POSTMILLENNIALISM

 

Boettner, Loraine. “The Millennium

 

Kik, J. M. Matthew Twenty-Four Revelation Twenty

 

Warfield, Orr, James

Snowden, James H.

 

PREMILLENNIALISM

 

Fineberg, C. L. “Premillennialism Or Amillennialism?” McClain, Alva J. The Greatness Of The KingdomPentecost, J. Dwight Things To Come

Ryrie, Charles C. The Basis Of Premillennial Faith

 

Walvoord, John F. “The Millennial Kingdom

 

COVENANT PREMILLENNIALISM

 

Ladd Crucial Questions About The Kingdom Of God

 

MIDREIBULATIONISM

 

Harrison, Norman B. The End

 

PARTIAL RAPTURISM

 

Brubaker, Ray. The Purpose Of The Great Tribulation

 

Lang, G. H. “The Revelation Of Jesus Christ

 

POSTTRIBULATIONISM

 

Gundry, Robert H. The Church And The Tribulation

 

Ladd, George E. That Blessed Hope

 

Payne, J. Barton. The Imminent Appearing Of Christ

 

Reese, Alexander. The Approaching Advent Of Christ

 

 

PRETRIBULATIONISM

 

English, E. Schuyler. Re-Thinking The RaptureWalvoord, John F. “The Rapture QuestionWood, Leon J. Is The Rapture Next

ANTI-DISPENSATIONALISM

 

Bass, Clarence B. Backgrounds To DispensationalismCox, William E. An Examination Of DispensationalismKraus, C. Norma. “Dispensationalism In America

DISPENSATIONALISM

 

Barndollar, W. W. The Validity Of Dispensationalism

 

Chafer, Lewis Sperry Dispensations

 

Ryrie, Charles C. “Dispensationalism Today

 

Darby, J. N. D. Kelley, William Gaebelein, F. Torrey, R.A. Scofield, C.I. Ironside, Harry

BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION

 

Ramm, Bernard. Protestant Biblical Interpretation

 

Tan, Paul Lee. The Interpretation Of Prophecy

 

GENERAL BOOKS

 

Clouse, R. G. “The Meaning Of The Millennium: Four Views

 

 

Some thoughts on how to properly interpret the gospels.

 

The importance of how you interpret a text was brought home to me many years ago in a graduate class where the professor would assign a text for study and then bring us together for a discussion. He was an expert at forming the class into the different positions that came from the study, and then pitting those groups against one another to show how poorly we had studied. He once assigned the text of Job 19:25-26 and asked us to determine what the text was about. The discussion went on for three class sessions before he taught the proper interpretation. There were three different views that seemed very good, yet all three groups failed to determine the context of the passage. Once the context was set before us we realized the meaning of the passage.

 

So it is in the gospels when you determine to interpret. The context, the audience and the speaker all go together to determine what age the information is meant for. There are some texts that are definitely for those living under the law, there are texts that are definitely for those that were going to live in the kingdom that Christ was offering, and there are texts that are for the coming church age. The question is, just which are which.

 

We submit the following as a guide to begin your interpretation of the gospels with.

 

1. Pay Close Attention To The Context: For example Luke 10:1-3 is not for the church, but Matthew 28:16-20 is. Look at the context to determine.

 

2. Pay Close Attention To The Recipient: If Christ was speaking to Jews, then the information is for Jews. If he was talking to Old Testament saints then He was not talking to you, however there may be some application to you since you are a saint. Just one outrageous example would be the account of the rich man and Lazarus. Lazarus wound up in bliss while the rich man ended in torment. Now, would we apply the rich man’s situation to ourselves — believers and the position of Lazarus to the lost of our day? NO.

 

3. Determine Whether The Principle Is Stated Elsewhere In The New Testament: For example some might suggest because of Matthew 10:9, 10 we should have no material possessions. “…provide neither gold, nor silver, nor copper in your purses, nor a bag for your journey neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet a staff….” This is not a principle for our day. It is not mentioned as a lifestyle anywhere in scripture. Indeed, Christ contrasts this Himself to another lifestyle for those in a different situation in Luke 22:35-36.

 

Don’t claim promises blindly. Look at the context, recipient and whether it is taught in the epistles before applying it to yourself. The epistles are for church use and we have no question about them, so they can assist us in determining other texts.

 

If the truth fits the general tenor of the epistles then it probably is usable for today. Christ spoke of meekness in the sermon on the mount which is definitely kingdom information.

 

The fruit of the Spirit seems to give that principle validity in our day so that meekness should be desired by the church age believer. The problem is that the meek shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). Do the epistles mention that the church will inherit the earth? No, and indeed we will not inherit the earth. This is not a promise for us though we can draw the principle of meekness from it.

 

4. Determine What Dispensation Is In View: Christ made quite a promise in Matthew 6:33.

 

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all of these things shall be added unto you.”

 

See, he will give me everything I want. That is the usual misinterpretation. First the context speaks of those needs of living that we have and not desires. Second, the promise is to the one that seeks His kingdom. The kingdom in Christ’s mind was the Jewish kingdom that He was offering — the Millennial kingdom. So, if you are seeking the millennium, He will see to your needs.

 

This text is for those looking for the kingdom and no one else. This is not a promise for me today. However, there is an application for me in this day. As I seek His righteousness and His future, I know that He will supply all that I need. This is a general principle throughout scripture. God always takes care of His people.

 

 

5. Realize That God’s Revelation Is Progressive: The gospel record is information for that day and time, while the epistles were meant for a later day and time. The information given to Moses was not meant to be carried forward to the church age. An example if this is the sacrificial system. It is no longer needed because Christ completed the sacrifice for sin on the cross. The Old Testament may relate to our day. The writer of Hebrews uses many of the people of that age in Chapter Eleven to produce the great text on living by faith. This shows that the information is not specifically for us, yet we can find application to our lives in those specifics.

 

The idea of examples of men is also related by Paul in Philippians 3:17 and 2 Thessalonians 3:9. Christ when he cleansed the temple was not telling us to cleanse the churches; we disagree with, though we can apply His action by being indignant at wrong activities.

 

There may be a truth for only one dispensation, or the truth may be a universal truth. John 3:3 mentions, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” This is a limited truth in that it was given in the context of the kingdom that is to come. A person cannot enter the kingdom unless he is born again. This proves that all at the beginning of the kingdom will be believers. There is also a universal truth in that if you personally want to be a part of the kingdom you must be born again.

 

Remember that all Scripture is beneficial. II Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that All Scripture is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction, thus we need to search the gospels for information that can help us know our God and live rightly before Him. The danger is in applying before studying.

 

Let us draw some conclusions then.

 

1. If it’s not for your dispensation, if it’s not for your nationality (gentile), if it’s not for your circumstance, THEN it’s not for you.

 

2. If the same principle is restated elsewhere in the New Testament epistles then it’s for you.

 

3. If it’s a valid principle universally in scripture then it’s for you.

 

4. If it’s a spiritual quality of personality, life, or holiness then it’s for you.

 

 

5. Primarily the synoptic gospels were written by men still looking for the kingdom to be set up shortly thus the specific information is meant for the kingdom. One should not weigh heavily on the gospels nor the book of Acts for church age promises.

 

It is hoped that this will be helpful in your use of the Gospel accounts of the life of our Lord and Savior in your own life.

 

 

THE CHURCH AND

THE KINGDOM

 

 

DEFINITIONS

 

The Church: The church is a living organism composed of all believers of the church age. The believers are the body, and Christ is the Head of that body. (In this study we will be looking at the universal church and not the local church.)

 

Ephesians 1:22-23; 1 Corinthians 12:13

 

The Kingdom: The earthly reign of Jesus Christ upon the earth for one thousand years. It includes the following:

 

A king, A land, A people.

 

Luke 1:31-33; Genesis 15:18; Zechariah 14:9; Matthew 25:31-34

 

 

THE CHURCH AND KINGDOM COMPARED

 

THE   CHURCH

 

THE   KINGDOM

 

A   mystery to the Old Testament people. Eph 31-9 Col 126-27

The kingdom is   the emphasis of the Old Testament. Isaiah 97

Psa 14511-13   Dan 714 Obadiah

21

The church has   a heavenly emphasis. Phil 320

 

The kingdom   emphasis is the earth. Gen 121 Deut 287,13

 

The church was   planned before creation. Eph 14

 

The kingdom   promised to Israel.

Matthew 2534

The church has   heavenly characteristics. Galatians 326ff Col 39-11

The   kingdom has earthly characteristics Matthew 811

Zech 1416-21   822-23

The church   involves spiritual blessings Eph 13

 

The kingdom   involves material blessings Gen 121-3; 2434-35

Deut 87-9

The church is   built up by the saints Eph 219-22

 

The kingdom   will be set up Dan 244.

 

Christ is the   head of the Church Eph 122-23 Col 118

 

Christ   is the king of Israel and will reign on the earth. Isaiah 96- 7 Luke 131-33   Rev 1911-16

Zech 149

The church   began at Pentecost and will be raptured before the tribulation. Acts 21-4 I   Thess 416-17 Eph 320-21

The   kingdom will begin at the coming of Christ Luke 1911-27 Dan 79-14 Rev 1115 I   Cor

1520-28

 

 

The listing of references that speak of the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God. Read each reference and see if you can find out if there is

 

 

a difference between these two kingdoms and if so what that difference is. Also try to determine what the kingdoms are.

 

KINGDOM OF GOD

 

Matthew 6:33; 12:28; 19:24; 21:31; 21:43

 

Mark 1:14; 4:11; 4:26 4:30; 9:1; 9:47; 10:14; 10:23-25; 12:34; 14:25; 15:43

 

Luke 4:43; 6:20; 7:28; 8:1; 8:10; 9:2; 9:11; 9:27; 9:60; 9:62; 10:9; 10:11;

11:20; 12:31; 13:18; 13:20; 13:28-29; 14:15; 16:16; 17:20; 18:16-17; 18:24-

25; 19:11; 21:31; 22:16; 22:18; 23:51

 

John 3:3; 3:5

 

Acts 1:3; 8:12; 14:22; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23; 28:31

 

Romans 14:17

 

1 Corinthians 4:20; 6:9-10; 15:50

 

Galatians 5:21

 

Colossians 4:11

 

2 Thessalonians 1:5

 

KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

 

Matthew 3:2; 4:17; 5:3; 5:10; 5:19-20; 7:21; 8:11; 10:7; 11:11-12; 13:11;

13:24; 13:31; 13:33; 13:44; 13:47; 13:52; 16:19; 18:1; 18:3-4; 18:23; 19:14;

19:23; 20:1; 22:2; 23:13; 25:1; 25:14[1]

 


[1] Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. B.A. (n.d.). DERICKSON’S NOTES ON THEOLOGY: A STUDY BOOK IN THEOLOGY.

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