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Pastor Scott L Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
January 13, 2018
Why We Are Pre-Millennial
After spending so much time dealing with issues of eschatology – doctrine of last things – in Matthew 24-25, I thought it would be good for us to try to bring some clarity to our overall understanding of what the Scriptures teach concerning things that will occur in the future. It can be confusing when examining a particular Scripture passage to understand how it fits with other Scriptures since the detail might fit into more than one future time period and some passages speak about multiple events that are to take place. Prophecy is also confusing simply because we are dealing with things God has declared will happen, but since they have not yet happened, we may not correctly understand the exact timing and sequencing of events. Hindsight always has much more clarity and certainty than foresight.
A quick example of this problem with prophecy is the confusion the disciples continued to have with Jesus’ statements about what would happen when He arrived in Jerusalem for the last time. Jesus told them on multiple occasions that He would “suffer many things from the elders and chief priest and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.” Yet, when Jesus was arrested, they ran away. After He was crucified, they hid in the upper room. After Jesus rose from the dead, they had a hard time believing it to be true with Thomas even declaring he would not believe unless he personally saw and touched the risen Christ. The future is outside our experience since it has not happened yet, and many of the things promised to come in the future are also outside our experience of things that could happen – just as the resurrection was for the disciples, though they had seen Jesus raise people from the dead before.
I point this out to emphasize that when it comes to eschatology, the doctrine of last things, we must be humble people. As we have seen in Matthew 24, we should be able to tell the signs of the season, there are general indications of what is going to happen, but the specifics, such as the day when Jesus will return is much more difficult. While I believe that we can have good confidence in understanding the overall structure of what will occur in the future, I do not believe we can be dogmatic on the exact sequence or details of what will happen. I find eschatology charts interesting, but I would not hold people to them. As the hymn writer put it, we will understand it better by and by. Or perhaps as one of my professors in seminary well stated, if the tension in your eschatology is gone, your spring is broken. We are to be humble and gracious people.
As I talk about millennial positions this morning, I may make statements that may be offensive to those holding other positions, but before you take offense, I first want to assure you that no offense is intended. It is my desire to speak both graciously and directly to the subject, but in speaking directly I know it may ruffle some feathers. Second, I would like you to extend me the courtesy to hear and consider what I have to say the same way you would like me to extend such a courtesy to you. The common goal every Bible believing Christian should have is to strive to correctly understand what God has revealed. Even if there is disagreement on the meaning of a particular text, there should be agreement that our mutual quest is to understand its meaning according to how God intended it to be understood, and we should respond to challenges in our current understanding by digging deeper in our Bible study.
In keeping with what I just said, I want to recommend a book written with that kind of Spirit. The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views, edited by Robert G. Clouse. In this book, George E. Ladd, Herman A. Hoyt, Loraine Boettner and Anthony A. Hoekema each present their understanding of what the Bible teaches concerning a future Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ and critique the other views. All four men argue strongly for their positions, but they are also gracious with each other.
Since there are many books written on this subject, it is obvious that I will not resolve the issues in one sermon. However, I do want to give a simple explanation of the three major millennial positions, some background on each, and then the basic reasons why Grace Bible Church and I personally hold to the premillennial view.
All millennial views are related to the kingdom of God. I pointed out in our study of Matthew 24 that this is what was on the minds of the disciples when they asked Jesus about the sign of His coming and of the end of the age. That was still on their minds after Jesus’ resurrection just prior to His ascension when they asked, “Lord, is it as this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” All views are related to understanding the nature of this kingdom and the presence of Jesus Christ with it.
Premillennialists believe that Jesus will return prior to the establishment of His reign on earth which will last for 1,000 years (a millennium). This will be preceded and accompanied by signs such as those listed in Matthew 24, and the kingdom will be established quickly with power and authority. It will be an unprecedented time of peace and justice due to the conversion of those who make up its population in its beginning, and Jesus holding evil in check by ruling with a “rod of iron.” Nature will also be radically changed so that it will be extremely productive and animals that are commonly vicious will be tame. The final state occurs after the millennium when the unrighteous are judged and death, hades and those whose names are not in the book of life are cast into the eternal lake of fire to join the devil and the beast. The present heavens and earth pass away and a new heaven and a new earth are created in which righteousness dwells. Dispensationalist also believe this is all in keeping with the promises God has made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and his descendants.
Postmillennialists, as summarized by Clouse, believe “that the kingdom of God is now being extended through Christian teaching and preaching. This activity will cause the world to be Christianized and result in a long period of peace and prosperity called the millennium [which is for an undetermined long period of time]. This millennium will differ from the present only in having a greater percentage of Christians and evil reduced to a minimum due to their influence. “The church will assume greater importance and many social, economic and educational problems will be solved. This millennium will conclude with the Second Coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead and the final judgment.”
Amillennialists, as summarized by Clouse, “hold that the Bible does not predict a period of universal peace and righteousness before the end of the world. They believe that there is a continuous growth of good and evil the world which will culminate in the Second Coming of Christ when the dead will be raised and last judgment held. Amillennialists hold that the kingdom of God is now present in the world as the victorious Christ is ruling his people by his Word and Spirit, though they also look forward to a future, glorious and perfect kingdom on the new earth in the life to come. Amillennialists interpret the millennium mentioned in Revelation 20 as describing the present reign of the souls of deceased believers with Christ in heaven.”
Historically, the premillennial view, then called Chiliastic, was the dominate understanding in the church until the fourth century when Christianity gained a favored status under Constantine. From that time the amillennial position became accepted and gained dominance with the millennium reinterpreted to refer to the Church and the 1,000 year reign as a reference to the whole history of the church. The reformation brought a renewed interest in premillennial thought, but its use by extremists discredited it for a time. Postmillennialism developed and became dominate in the 18th Century, but increasing wars, especially WWI and WWII in the 20th Century caused it to wane. The premillennial view revived in the 19th Century, especially the dispensational branch through the widespread influence of J.N. Darby. The return of the Jews to Israel increased this further, though at present it is losing favor among the younger generation since Israel has been back in the land for 70 years and Jesus has not yet returned.
At present, all three views can be found among true believers and genuine followers of Jesus Christ. All three views hold to an idea that there will be a future eternal kingdom in which Jesus is physically present. While this doctrine does have many ramifications on teachings in other areas of belief, it is not an issue of salvation. While we can hold strongly to our beliefs and teach our understanding of the Scriptures with conviction, we should not disparage or castigate others as non-Christians because they hold a different view of the future millennium. Our challenges should be directed at the reasons for their beliefs and prod one another to study the Scriptures.
What are the reasons that people hold to one of these different views? That varies a lot with each individual. For some, it is simply what they have been taught and they have not considered anything else. For others, it is part of the traditions that have been instilled into them and has become part of the fabric of their identity. For still others, it is the influence of the current social / political realities being read into the interpretation of the Scriptures. This is a major reason for the various views to either wax or wane. Another reason is the influence of particular preachers or Bible teachers, and as a preacher I certainly strive to influence you. However, as a Bible teacher, my quest is to prod you to dig into the Scriptures yourself and come to personal conviction based on what you believe God has revealed to man in His Word.
That is my challenge to you this morning, and if I do stimulate you to pick up your Bible and start comparing Scripture with Scripture on this issue, then I will have fulfilled one of my foundational goals whether you agree with my conclusions and the position of this church or not. Follow the admonition of Paul in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.“
A Question of Hermeneutics
Sections G, H, I & J in the Grace Bible Church Statement of Faith all express different aspects of our understanding of eschatology. I have printed them in your notes so that you can look up the Scripture references for yourself and do your own study on this subject. (At bottom of notes below or posted on Website)
Sections I & J on The Righteous and the Wicked and The Resurrection are beliefs that would be common to all three millennial positions. There will be a different eternal future for the righteous and the wicked. Both will be resurrected, the righteous to eternal bliss with the Lord, and the wicked to eternal damnation in the lake of fire separated from God. I dealt with the reality of heaven and hell a couple of weeks ago in the sermon on the sheep and goat judgment.
Though the word “dispensation” does not occur in our Statement of Faith, Section I, which deals with Israel, is what sets us apart as a dispensational church. We believe that God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his descendants, to king David and to the nation of Israel through various prophets will all come true. The remnant of Israel left at the Second Advent of Christ will be saved just as Paul states in Romans 11.
It is in Section G, which deals with the Rapture, a subject I will address in depth next week, that it states directly in paragraph 1, We believe in the pre-millennial return of Christ, an event which can occur at any moment. The section then continues on to explain the catching up of believers to be with Christ. Paragraph 2 includes the statement that the tribulation period “will be culminated by the revelation of Christ in power and great glory to sit upon the throne of David and to establish the millennial kingdom.“
Why does this church, and I personally, believe these things? There are 39 Scripture references in those sections, and we could go over each of them plus many more, and we will look a few of them, but those holding to other views could also cite many scriptures, including some of these same ones as supporting their beliefs. Why such a difference in interpretation of the same Scriptures? It comes down to what underlies Bible interpretation, which is hermeneutics – the system of rules used to figure out the meaning of a text. After everything else is analyzed, I believe what I do and this church’s doctrinal statement is written as it is because of the hermeneutics we follow in trying to understand God’s revelation in His word. I regularly teach a course in hermeneutics because this is such an important issue.
We follow what is referred to as the literal or historico-grammatical system of hermeneutics. This also takes in such important issues as inspiration, veracity, perspicuity or clarity of Scriptures. We believe the Bible is inspired by God, (God – breathed (2 Timothy 3:16) in whole (plenary) and part (the particular words and grammar), as men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God (2 Peter 1:21) to give an inerrant (entirely true – John 17:17) and infallible (does not lead astray – 2 Timothy 3:17, Hebrews 4:12) record of God’s revelation of Himself, His will, His actions and His promises.
This system of Bible interpretation places a priority on the historical meaning of a passage as it would have been understood to those to whom it was originally written. Words, grammar, metaphors, idioms, etc., all have meaning in their historical and cultural context. Reading modern usages of words, grammar and ideas back into historical documents distorts them resulting in erroneous conclusions about their meaning. That is bad enough when applied to historical documents, but doing that to the Scriptures is much more serious because it changes the meaning of what God has said. Because words and expressions change meaning over time, good translations are updated with different words that are closer in meaning to the original languages in their historic and cultural context.
People are sometimes confused by what is meant saying we are striving for a literal interpretation, that is in part due to even the wrong usage of the adjective “literally” in which it itself is used figuratively. By literal meaning we are not referring to letterism, but rather “the natural or usual construction and implication of a writing or expression; following the ordinary and apparent sense of words; not allegorical or metaphysical.” Or to put it another way, the literal method is interpretation according to the normal usage for any type of literature whether narrative, poetry, wisdom literature, or prophetic. Literal interpretation easily recognizes figures of speech such metaphor, simile, hyperbole, euphemism, and personification as well as cultural idioms. Any secondary meanings are dependent on a literal substrate of language. The historico-grammatical method helps prevent exegetical abuse of Scripture for priority is given to the original languages. We must always remember that the purpose of language is imparting thoughts. Studies in the meaning of words, the structure of grammar and the historical context are all vital to understanding the thoughts that were intended to be imparted. If we do not understand the message as intended for those to whom it was first given, then we will not have any confidence in an interpretation of that message for today.
This is the problem with allegorical and mystical methods of interpretation common to many groups. Instead of working diligently to understand the original intended message, the text can be interpreted to mean nearly anything the interpreter wants because he is only limited by his imagination and theological superstructure. Allegorical interpretation is the method used in Roman Catholicism, but the coming of the Reformation opened up the Scriptures to once again be understood according to its historical and grammatical meanings. However, old habits and traditions die hard, and allegorical and mystical interpretation were still continued on in areas of theology among the reformers and those that followed them even up to the present day. Protestants who hold to amillennial or postmillennial theology will admit that they interpret eschatology differently than they do other areas such as soteriology – doctrine of salvation.
Allegorical interpretation was common among the puritans. While we greatly benefit from much of their work and stand on their shoulders, we also must be very careful of the mystical ways in which they could approach the Scriptures. An example of this is John Gill’s commentary on the Song of Solomon – Canticles. Even a cursory reading of this short Biblical book full of poetic language it is easily understood it is about the love between Solomon and the Shunamite. John Gill makes it a book about Jesus and the church and writes profusely to make sentences with plain meaning into paragraphs and pages of mystical ideas. The two volumes are a total of 675 pages, and bound are 8 ½” X 11″ X 2.”
Premillennial theology seeks to interpret passages dealing with eschatology according to the historico-grammatical method. If the plain sense makes sense, make no other sense. That includes narrative sections such as Revelation 9:7-11 that describes a creature a bit beyond our imagination and which left John trying to describe it in language comparing its various attributes to something his readers might comprehend. He uses the word “like” eight times trying to give some sense of what this real creature looked like. But I emphasize that the plain language of the text is that this is a real creature and not something mythical or a metaphor for something else.
Revelation 20 is the passage that gives the time length for the coming kingdom. When this chapter is read as any normal literature would be understood, it is clear that God has revealed there will be a millennium with Jesus Christ ruling His kingdom on earth. As I read, note how many times a “thousand years” (which is a millennium) is specifically mentioned. One of the first rules of interpretation is that a word that is repeated multiple times is important to the meaning of the passage. This chapter also outlines the sequence of future events for it occurs after the tribulation period detailed in the previous chapters and the return of the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” with His army to conquer the world and cast alive the beast and the false prophet into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:11-21)
1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; 3 and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time. 4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. 7 When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, 8 and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. 9 And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. 11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
How long is Satan bound? 1,000 years – vs. 2 & 3
How long will those who are part of the first resurrection reign with Christ? 1,000 years – vs. 4 & 6
How long will the rest of the dead wait until their resurrection? After the 1,000 years – vs. 5
When will Satan be loosed for a season? After the 1,000 years are completed – vs. 3 & 7
Those who reject this literal interpretation and claim it is allegory or metaphor quickly point to Psalm 90:4 and the reference to it in 2 Peter 3:8 that “with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.” This is used to then claim Revelation 20 must be interpreted the same way, sometimes with even mocking of those who interpret it literally. Actually, I do interpret Psalm 90:4 and 2 Peter 3:8 literally and agree it is metaphor because the word indicating it is a figure of speech, “like,” is used in both of those Scriptures. Revelation 20 is a narrative without any indicators to even remotely suggest the 1,000 years is figurative.
The usual response to this fact is to claim prophecy is interpreted differently and therefore it is figurative simply because they can find other figurative uses of the word “thousand” (civlioi / chilioi) such as I already pointed out. That is a very leaky bucket that allows the plain truth out and any speculation in. But that is also what happens with the Old Testament prophecies to Israel about a future restoration and kingdom.
Future Kingdom Promises to Israel
The last question the disciples asked Jesus before His ascension was, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel.” They were looking for the fulfillment of the many prophecies made to the nation. Jesus does not correct them on their expectation, but only that it was not for them to know the times or epochs which the Father has fixed. They were to concentrate on His command to them to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the remotest part of the earth (Acts. 1:6-8). The kingdom would come in the Father’s timing.
A common theme in both amillennial and postmillennial theology is that the church has replaced the nation of Israel, and therefore the prophecies concerning it must now be fulfilled by the church, but they must also make those promises metaphorical since they have not been fulfilled as described in the church. There are many, many of these prophecies by many different prophets throughout Israel’s history starting with the promises for restoration by Moses and continuing through Malachi. We are nearly out of time, so I have listed some of them at the end of your notes. I want to conclude with just two related examples from the many Hebrew Prophets.
In Acts 2, Peter quoted from Joel 2 and pointed out that part of that prophecy was being fulfilled that day. The prophecy continues on in chapter three to describe both the future judgment of the nations and the restoration and blessings on Israel which will come with the Day of the Lord. Aside from the celestial signs that have not yet occurred, neither the judgments of the nations or the blessings on Israel have yet occurred as described. Joel 3:18-21 concluding, 18 “And in that day The mountains will drip with sweet wine, And the hills will flow with milk, And all the brooks of Judah will flow with water; And a spring will go out from the house of the LORD To water the valley of Shittim. 19 Egypt will become a waste, And Edom will become a desolate wilderness, Because of the violence done to the sons of Judah, In whose land they have shed innocent blood. 20 But Judah will be inhabited forever And Jerusalem for all generations. 21 And I will avenge their blood which I have not avenged, For the LORD dwells in Zion.“
A parallel prophecy describing this restoration of Israel is Amos 9:11-15. 11 “In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David, And wall up its breaches; I will also raise up its ruins And rebuild it as in the days of old; 12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom And all the nations who are called by My name,” Declares the LORD who does this. 13 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “When the plowman will overtake the reaper And the treader of grapes him who sows seed; When the mountains will drip sweet wine And all the hills will be dissolved. 14 “Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, And they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them; They will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, And make gardens and eat their fruit. 15 “I will also plant them on their land, And they will not again be rooted out from their land Which I have given them,” Says the LORD your God.
The real difference between the premillennial and the amillennial and postmillennial positions boils down to a difference in hermeneutics. The premillennialist strives to interpret scriptures according to the historico-grammatical method. He may fail at times and inconsistencies can be pointed out in individuals within the premillennial camp, but the quest of this theological system is to interpret the Bible in literal methods common to all literature. Allegory and metaphor are shunned unless indicated within the text. It is for that reason we believe that Jesus will return to set up His physical kingdom on earth reigning on the throne of David and that it will last for 1,000 years and fulfill all the prophecies in both the Old Testament and New Testament concerning it. That is the understanding that comes from a plain reading of the various Scripture texts.
The amillennial and postmillennial methods of interpretation are much more open to allegorical and mystical methods. For some, such as Roman Catholics, that is the dominate method, for others, such as those following covenant theology, that is much more restricted, but it is part of their methodology concerning interpretation of prophetic literature. The result is interpretation of the promises of God concerning the future in ways that cannot be understood from a simple reading of the texts. Those following these methods may be precious brothers and sisters in Christ who share the common hope of Jesus’ return and the eternal kingdom, but their methods are detrimental to Christian faith in two major ways.
The first is that confidence in the promises of God is reduced because of the uncertainty introduced in knowing what those promises actually are. The promises to Israel are changed to be fulfilled in ways foreign to a plain understanding of the passages. What then of the promises God has made to us as Christians grafted into to the root of Israel?
The second is the danger of the musings of men replacing the revelation of God, for the passages must be interpreted according to their already established theological framework instead of the theological framework being established and modified upon the clear revelation of what God has said. The greater the allegorical or mystical interpretation of any Scripture, the greater this danger becomes, for the interpreter is cut free from the shackles of having to understand a text according to what was intended when originally revealed.
May all of us always be kind and gracious when contending about these issues, but may the Lord also prod each of us to dig deep to understand what He has revealed and then stand firm upon that. Let us follow our true Reformation heritage to understand and stand firm on the meaning of the Scriptures themselves instead of the theologies of men.
Sermon Notes – 1/13/2019
Why We Are Pre-Millennial – Selected Scriptures
Prophetic scriptures can be __________ – the disciples ________understand Jesus’ prophecy about Himself
We must be _____________people when considering eschatology – doctrine of last things
Every Bible believing Christian should have a common goal of striving to ________understand God’s Word
Book recommendation: The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views, edited by Robert G. Clouse
All millennial views are related to the ______________of God and the presence of Jesus Christ within it
Premillennialists believe Jesus will return _________to establishing His 1,000 year reign on earth
The Tribulation occurs before the millennium and the eternal state occurs after it
Postmillennialists believe the Christianization of the world will bring a “millennium” of ______& prosperity
The millennium is an uncertain length of time, and Jesus returns ________ of it bringing the eternal state
Amillennialists ________a future earthly kingdom of peace and righteousness before the end of the world
The world continues similar to the present until the Second Coming and the ___________state
The millennium is a present ___________kingdom of undetermined length
Historically, premillennial belief (______________) dominated until the 4th Century
Amillennial belief rose with ___________& dominated until the reformation. It continued in some churches
Postmillennial belief developed and dominated in the ______________, but declined after WWII
The Premillennial view ___________in the 19th Century.
At present, __________views can be found among true believers and genuine followers of Jesus Christ
Reasons for belief ________greatly: Limited exposure, tradition, politics, a teacher’s influence, Bible study
Live according to 2 Timothy 2:15 and __________to come to Biblical understanding and conviction
A Question of Hermeneutics
All views believe in a __________eternal state of blessing for the righteous & damnation for the wicked
Grace Bible Church holds to and teaches a ________________, premillennial understanding of eschatology
The difference in views is based on differences in interpretation based on differences in ________________
GBC follows the historico-grammatical or ___________system of hermeneutics – Bible interpretation
The literal system places priority on understanding a text according to its ___________meaning
The literal system follows ____________usage of words and grammar for any particular type of literature
The historico-grammatical method helps prevent exegetical abuse by seeking the meaning _______intended
Allegorical & mystical methods, still common in many churches, allows for ____________speculation
Allegorical interpretation among Puritans resulted in works of theological ____________
If the plain sense makes _______, make no other sense – even unusual creatures such as in Revelation 9:7-11
This chapter sets the time __________for the kingdom and Revelation sets the sequence of future events:
Sequence: Tribulation (6-18), Return of Christ (19), Millennium (20), Judgment (20), Eternal state (21-22)
1,000 years used ________times setting the length of time for: 1) Satan being bound. 2) Reign of Christ and those who are part of the 1st resurrection. 3) Waiting period for resurrection to judgment. 4) When Satan would be released for a season.
Revelation 20 is a narrative without any _____________of metaphorical use of 1,000 – as in other passages
Non-literal interpretation of prophecy because it is _________is a leaky bucket being filled with speculation
Future Kingdom Promises to Israel
Acts 1:6-8 – Jesus tells the disciples the _____________of the future kingdom was up to the Father
Prophecies of Israel’s future restoration are interpreted allegorically by those replacing Israel with the _____
Prophets from Moses (Deut. 30) to Malachi predict Israel’s __________restoration & judgment of nations
Amos 9:11-15 – prophecy of Israel’s unparalleled __________restoration
The difference in millennial views is due to difference in _______________- rules of Biblical interpretation
GBC follows the historico-grammatical method and therefore believes God’s promises ______________
Allegorical methods interpret God’s promises in ways not understandable from a ______reading of the texts
Allegorical methods make God’s promises ___________because they cannot be known with certainty
Allegorical methods make _________ theological frameworks superior to God’s clear revelation
Be kind and gracious, but dig deep to _______________God’s word and then stand firm.
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times a form of the word “Millennial” is used in the sermon. Talk with your parents about being able to trust God’s promises for the future
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What are some of the reasons why prophetic passages are hard to understand? Why should we be humble when it comes to discussions of eschatology? Explain each of the basic beliefs of these three theological positions: Pre-millennialism. Post-millennialism. Amillennialism. Trace the historical development of each of these positions – when did each arise, dominate, wane? What are some of the reasons people hold to different views on the question of Christ’s future kingdom? On what do all three positions agree? Why is there such diversity among them in interpretation of the same scriptures? Explain the historico-grammatical (literal) method of interpretation. What beliefs about the Bible are part of this system? What problems arise with allegorical and mystical interpretations? What conclusions can be made from Revelation 20 by a normal reading of the text? What specific things are tied to the 1,000 years? What promises are made to Israel in Joel 3 and Amos 9? Have those been fulfilled or not? Explain
Excerpts from the Grace Bible Church Statement of Faith
SECTION G. THE RAPTURE.
1. We believe in the pre-millennial return of Christ, an event which can occur at any moment, and that at that moment, the dead in Christ shall be raised in glorified bodies, the living in Christ shall be given glorified bodies without tasting death, and all of them shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air before the seven years of the tribulation (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17; 1 Corinthians15:42-44, 51-54; Philippians 3:20-21).
2. We believe that the tribulation, which follows the rapture of the church, will be culminated by the revelation of Christ in power and great glory to sit upon the throne of David and to establish the millennial kingdom (Daniel 9:25-27; Matthew 24:5-31; Luke 1:30-33; Isaiah 9:6-7; 11:1-9; Acts 2:29-30; Revelation 20:1-4,6).
SECTION H. ISRAEL.
We believe in the sovereign selection of Israel as God’s eternal covenant people, that she is now dispersed because of her disobedience and rejection of Christ, that she will be regathered in the Holy Land and, after the completion of the church, will be saved as a nation at the second advent of Christ (Genesis 13:14-17; Romans 11:1-32; Ezekiel 37).
SECTION I. THE RIGHTEOUS AND THE WICKED.
We believe that there is a radical and essential difference between the righteous and wicked; that only such as are justified through faith in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and sanctified by the Spirit of our God, are truly righteous in His esteem while all who continue in impenitence and unbelief are in His sight wicked and under the curse and, therefore, stand condemned before God. This distinction holds among men both in and after death, in the everlasting blessedness of the saved and the everlasting conscious suffering of the lost (Malachi 3:18; Genesis 18:23; Romans 6:17-18; Proverbs 11:31; Romans 1:17-18; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Acts 10:34-35; 1 John 2:29; Romans 6:16; Galatians 3:10; Romans 6:23; Proverbs 14:32; Luke 16:25; Matthew 25:34,41; Matthew 7:13-14).
SECTION J. THE RESURRECTION.
We believe in the bodily resurrection of all men: the saved to eternal life and the unsaved to judgment and everlasting punishment. The souls of the redeemed at death are absent from the body and present with the Lord, where in conscious bliss they await the first resurrection, when spirit, soul and body are reunited to be forever glorified with the Lord. The souls of the unbelievers, after death, remain in conscious misery until the second resurrection, when with spirit, soul and body reunited they shall appear before the Great White Throne Judgment and shall be cast into the lake of fire, not to be annihilated, but to suffer everlasting, conscious punishment (Luke 16:19-26; Matthew 25:46; John 5:28-29; 11:25-26; Philippians 1:23; 3:21; 2 Corinthians 5:8,10; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Revelation 20:4-6, 12-13).
Selected Passages Concerning Promises of a yet Future Restoration of Israel (Note: some of these passages include restoration after captivity to Babylon. They are included when they reference “an everlasting covenant.” God remains the same. His promises fulfilled give confidence for promises still to be fulfilled. Look in these passages and note descriptions of things that have not yet occurred – both judgment and blessing).
Genesis 17:7 (See Genesis 12:2-3; 15:18; 26:24); 12:2-3; Leviticus 26:44-45; Deuteronomy 6:25-31; Psalm 89:30-37; 94:12-15; 105:8-11; Isaiah 54, 55:1-5; 59:14-21; 60-62; Jeremiah 31 (esp. vs. 31-40); 32:36-44; 33 (esp. vs. 14-15); Ezekiel 16:60; 37:24-28; 38:23-29; ch 40-48; Joel 2:18-31; 3:1-21; Amos 9:8-15; Micah 4:1-8; 7:18-20; Zephaniah 3:12-20; Zechariah 12-14;
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