|Millennial Views Comparison Chart||Articles On
|Amillennialism 101 (MP3 Series)
by Kim Riddlebarger
|A Present or Future Millennium?
by Kim Riddlebarger
and the Jews
|The Significance of Covenant
Theology in Reformed Eschatology
The word amillennialism is not a word which you will find in the scriptures unless you know exactly what the word delineates. Then you will discover that (like the word trinity) though it's not a word actually written in scripture, it is clearly a word used to describe Biblical doctrine. Therefore, what the word represents is taken directly from the Word of God. Everything which Reformed Amillennialism signifies is explicitly expressed on the pages of Holy Canon. And in this exposition, we will show this without ambiguity, and conclusively. What is today commonly called Amillennialism, is 'nothing more' than what the scriptures themselves plainly declare. Including the truth that the prophesied kingdom, Messiah, rule, deliverance, peace, safety, government, temple building, righteousness, and reign of Christ, has come! And if this be true, then Amillennialism is simply the witness of scripture itself, and the testimony to it's fulfillment in Christ.
In order to better understand the debate, we should start with a brief definition of the four major millennial positions in the Church today.
The word millennium is a Latin term meaning one thousand years. It's from the root words [mille], meaning thousand, and [annum], meaning years. In Greek (yes Greek, not Latin), placing the letter "a" before a word negates the word. So a-millennial literally means no millennial.
However, we should note that this word is a misnomer in describing Reformed Amillennialists, because they do in fact believe there is a millennial reign of Christ, but not on an earthly throne upon this sin cursed world. They believe Messiah reigns upon the throne in the Kingdom of heaven. So the word Amillennial itself is literally accurate only as it is understood to mean no millennial reign 'on an earthly or worldly throne.'
This view of eschatology holds that the reign of Christ (Revelation 20:4), began as the apostle Peter declared (Acts 2:30-32), when Christ instituted this kingdom by His death, resurrection, and ascension to the throne of David. Reformed Amillennialism teaches that the kingdom of God is both real, effectual, substantive, and spiritual, and is now being extended and advanced by the preaching of the gospel.
By contrast, the term Premillennialists identifies Christians who believe that the thousand year reign spoken of in Revelation chapter 20 is of an earthly reign of Christ. Pre-millennial literally means before millennium, or before the thousand years. This is the doctrine that sometime in the future Christ will return to this earth and begin a literal one thousand year reign upon a literal throne in the middle east. He will reign and govern from Jerusalem, and peace will rule on earth from the nation of Israel. 'Generally,' Premillennialists believe in two separate and unequal Salvation programs. A national or racial (rather than individual) Salvation plan for the race of the Jews, and another one for everyone else (any non-Jew or Gentile). They hold that future redeemed Israel will be the center of government and the spreading of the gospel to the nations of the world. In this they reject the contention that Christ has already come and redeemed and delivered Israel, or that He is now the center of rule and Government, as was prophesied.
There are different forms of premillennialism (such as dispensationalism, or Historical), but in general, they do not believe that many Old Testament scriptures which were fulfilled, are 'completely' fulfilled. They take the position that any fulfillment in Israel is incomplete, and the pertinent scriptures dealing with this, have yet a further future literal fulfillment. For example, some premillennialists look for Elijah to literally come back to prepare the way for Christ's rule, because they don't believe that John the baptist 'completely' fulfilled that prophesy.
A view which has gained popularity within some Reformed circles lately is Postmillennialism. This is the view that the millennium is a future golden age of the Church which will precede the second advent of Christ. They (as do the Amillennialists) offer up the scriptures that declare that Christ is ruling in His kingdom now, and that the kingdom of God is now being extended through Christian preaching of the gospel. But they differ from the Amillennialists in that they believe that at the end of this kingdom age, there will be an age of righteousness and world wide turning to Christ. The word 'post,' means after, thus postmillennial identifies those who believe in Christs' return 'after' this future golden (millennial) age.
Generally, the belief is that in this millennium the Church will exercise Christ's power and authority in this World whereby the wicked rulers are hindered in their wickedness and the influence of Christianity will excel until some future time when most of the world will be in obedience to God's laws. They expect that after they have created a just, God fearing society (lasting this millennium), Christ will then return, and the judgment and resurrection occurs.
The Preterist view means it's past fulfillment. Preterit is Latin and means Pre (before) in fulfillment. i.e., [L. praeteritus, gone by]. It is expressing time fulfilled. Preterits believe that most or all of Bible Prophecy has already been fulfilled in Christ, and the on-going expansion of His Kingdom. They hang this belief of Past-fulfillment on many different verses, including the witness that Jesus and his apostles said that his coming (or presence) and the end of all things, would occur soon (in that generation).
Full Preterits spiritualize Matthew 24 as having already taken place in the past, and believe that Christ actually returned in 70 A.D. fulfilling the prophesy of the second advent.
Interpretive Liberty or License?
Of all these views, only the Reformed Amillennialist view can be 'totally' supported in all it's pertinent declarations, with unambiguous scripture. Not scripture interpreted to mean these things, but that actually says them! I fully realize that this is a bold statement, but in this study we will go through the verses one by one to prove that this is true. For we all know that simply making these declarations is easy, but an 'undeniable' defense of them requires the unquestioned witness of scripture.
The critics of Amillennialism joy in labeling it a pessimistic view of God's kingdom. Nothing could be further from the truth. The problem is that there are those Theologians who confuse pessimism with a biblically learned and scripturally sound view of the fate of the world. A view in accordance with all of God's Word. There are no 'pie in the sky' Theological theories of the end of the world, only the realistic and scriptural view that Christ's Kingdom triumphs by the spread of the gospel, that many would overcom the world and be translated therein by the blood of Christ. We don't triumph by converting the world, nor did our God ever prophesy conversion of the whole World. The Church was commissioned to call a remnant whom the Lord has Chosen, 'out of' the world. It was not commissioned to create a righteous world, rather, in the success of this 'calling out,' in our reign with Christ, that the Kingdom of God spreads. The advancing of the Christ's Kingdom was never prophesied to be that the Church would one day make the world righteous, but that Messiah would make righteous a remnant, whom God hath Elected. In this most obvious of truths is our optimism and faith in it's success! Success not defined by the changing of the world, but in that we successfully call a remnant in the world 'to change.' This is not the pessimism 'charged' by many Postmillennialists, it is the same 'good news' of the gospel message which has been preached for centuries.
The Christianization of the world is not God's plan, except it be by the measured Choosing 'of a remnant' from every nation, who will overcome the world in Christ. Again, that's not pessimism, that's the optimistic faith in our assurance that Christ indeed will build His Church, even in the midst of this desperately wicked world. ..pessimism? God Forbid! We are confident that Christ will successfully build His Church, and that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. The commission of the Church has always been to spread the gospel and advance the Kingdom of Messiah, as so plainly illustrated in the Parable of the pounds (Luke 19:13-25). And unless Christians from the time of the cross, until today (2000 years later), have laboured in vain, it never was, and never will be pessimism. Those kinds of charges are but adhominem rhetoric. Accusations made for effect, implying that those who do not believe as they do, do not believe God's righteous Kingdom will triumph. But vain accusations have nothing to do with sound Biblical exegesis or theology.
The offer of a rosey outlook 'on the world,' besides being unrealistic is unjustifiable from the scriptures. There has always been the prophecy of a remnant made righteous, and the nearer to the end we come, that remnant will be smaller than ever! The Church is here to spread the gospel message to a world desperately in need of it, a world which will suffer the wrath of God. A world which isn't going to have earthly peace, and isn't going to get better, it will get (and has gotten) progressively worse, until our Lord returns to a world where the love of God has grown so cold that there is rampant Apostasy.
Only in the remnant! Christ will return to a world where iniquity abounds, and man in his arrogance sits to rule in place of God. A world upon whom Satan has been loosed by God as judgment. This is the end of the matter. Not that there will be a golden age of worldwide bliss or spiritual awakening, but a world come under judgment of God!
While this postmillennial view appeals to the humanity of man, the Premillennial view appeals to the traditions of men. It is basically an offshoot of the old Judaic traditions in the law-bound belief in nationalism, earthly Kingdoms, and genealogical glory. When studied carefully, it is both inconsistent, contradictory, and like national Israel before, it continually denies God's fulfillment of Old Testament prophesies (which scripture clearly declare have already been fulfilled).
The truth is, what is today called Amillennialism, is in fact the only view which gives us an authoritatively consistent and scripturally tenable doctrine which doesn't undermine God's Word of fulfillment. Amillennialism recognizes that when God's Word says something is fulfilled (completed), then it's fulfilled. This view of the millennial prophecy makes perfect sense, as it testifies to the emphasis of God's Word on the spiritual nature of Messiah's Kingdom and of those who reign in it. It confirms that we are citizens of that kingdom (now) as prophesied, and we presently reign in Peace, as Kings and Priests unto our God. Not an earthly or political government of Christ in worldly Jerusalem, but a spiritual government in a spiritual city from above (Gal. 4:26). A Government wherein we obey the laws thereof 'in Christ,' who rules over us. Amillennialism is the Historic Protestant Church view in which 'every point' can be unambiguously justified with quoted scripture. The only detail that can even be honestly debatable as not 'explicitly' stated in scripture, is the spiritual length of the time of the 1000 years. However, even that is made abundantly clear by the context, and all of the other scriptures which deal with the subject. i.e., when compared with other scriptures, it is seen to be God breathed and the only possible way it can be understood. As an analogy, if you are told to go south 10 miles, go west 10 miles, and go north 10 miles. It doesn't take a Ph.D. to figure out that you 'MUST' be 10 miles west of your starting point. Likewise, God has given us all the information needed to understand what the millennial reign of Christ is. The problem is not that it's not there, the problem is in indoctrinations and Church tradition. Ironically, many who joy in claiming they take things literally, have accused those of us who 'literally' follow these scriptures, of following tradition instead. But in studying these things, we must remember:
"If God spoke it, it's not man's private interpretation, it's God's explanation. And if God reveals what was hidden, it's not man's personal creation, it's God's light of illumination."
No scripture can be, 'not true.' Even the difficult passages one may not yet understand. And so our understanding must be brought into agreement with what is said. John the baptist said He was not Elijah (John 1:21). But Jesus said if we will 'receive' it, this was Elijah which was prophesied to come. Which is true? Both are true, because John was not the Elijah who lived years before, but He was the Elijah that was prophesied to come. Shall we condemn Christ for spiritualizing a clwear prophecy of Elijah coming?
Thus the answer is not in insisting Elijah literally be reincarnated in another body to fulfill scripture according to tradition, but in 'receiving' the testimony of 'the whole' of scripture, that the prophesy was for one coming walking in the spirit and power that Elijah (Elias) did. Both the witness of John, and the witness of Jesus was true. But it has to be defined by God, not teachers or tradition. Let God define His own terms. As righteous Joseph declared of mysteries:
"..do not interpretations belong to God?"
..Indeed they do! Let us read scripture with the mind of Christ, to humbly receive what God says, rather than what we think, or our Church tradition.
There is this common misconception by some Christians that Augustine (A.D. 400) was the author of "what is today called" the amillennial view of the kingdom of Christ. This statement is untrue. Others credit Origen (3rd century) as the chief architect. But we should be careful to understand that the term Amillennial, was not known to either Origen or Augustine. It is true that they were instrumental in bringing this teaching back to the forefront of the Church of their day, but this view by no means originated with them. In the same way as the Reformation was the restoring of doctrines faithful to scripture (not the start of them), so Augustine's noted preaching of what the scriptures say about the Kingdom, was in response to error, not a new teaching. What is commonly 'called' Amillennialism today, is as old as the scriptures themselves, and though not known by this name, it has always been the biblical teachings of the Church. Of course man has a penchant to label everything (to separate, for better or worse), but the truth signified by this word is found clearly on the pages of scriptures. The entire Protestant Reformation, the faithful revitalizing and restoring of the Church to leaning on the authority of scripture, took a distinctly amillennial view of eschatology. Looking at the Protestant Churches which grew out of that Reformation, you would never know this by where Protestantism has fallen to in our day. Faithful Reformation leaders like John Calvin held to the present kingdom view of the thousand years of Revelation 20 because it is delineated on the pages of scripture, not because of tradition. He recognized that the millennium reference was to all of New Testament history, rather than to a 1000 year event at the end of the age. The truth is, Nearly all of the Great Christian Reformers, from Martin Luther, John Knox, Ulrich Zwingli, to Philipp Melanchthon (to name a few) understood the scriptures to teach what we today call Amillennialism. These faithful men believed it not because they were taught it, but because they were convinced of it's sound "scriptural foundation." And anyone who insists all the Reformers were Amillennialists just because they were blindly following tradition (as many have insinuated), doesn't understand much about the Reformation, nor these Reformers.
This view of the Millennium has always been the majority view of the
Historic Protestant Reformed Christian Church. It's only relatively recently
that the Protestant Church has (to a large degree), forgotten it's
Historic Amillennial Reformation roots which were grounded solidly in Sola
Scriptura. Sadly, many Protestant Churches today have strayed from that
faithfulness, and fallen to dispensationalism and other unbiblical teachings.
- Remove not the ancient landmarks which thy fathers have set."
The faithful men of old who wouldn't go beyond the marks of what the scriptures said, today, seem a rare breed. Church leaders in greater and greater numbers appear to judge by assumption, Church tradition, what their theological teachers theorize, or what is right in their own eyes. They have forgotten the guide posts of scripture. The Protestant Reformers knew the error of this, and judged the millennial reign between the ancient landmarks or guide posts of scripture. i.e., they defined it by what was in God's Word, not by popular suppositions. It is not insignificant (as some would have you believe) that the early Reformed Protestant Church almost exclusively held this eschatological view. These were not men who blindly followed tradition (as their break from the Roman Catholic Church demonstrated), and so for detractors to claim that they were merely following Catholic tradition, shows either an inherent ignorance of these men, or an acute bias and lack of Historical objectivity.
Many of the Christians in our day who have not really read Protestant history, are very often quite surprised (even shocked) when they discover for the first time that nearly all of the Protestant Reformers and the entire Reformed and Lutheran traditions were (what today is called) Amillennialist. The reason that this fact is not really widely known in Christendom is because the advocates of premillennialism today so dominate Christian Radio, Books, and TV, that people easily get a biased and warped view of Church history and theology. Unfortunately in our day we are deluged with half-truths, diatribes against stated and commonly understood scriptures, and even deliberate distortion of the Amillennialist teaching. Moreover, amillennialism has suffered from the failure of Reformed Church writers to defend the position against those who label the position both heretical and anti-semitic . As a result of this, there are a great many people who only know Amillennialism, by what self serving Premillennialists (and Postmillennialists to some degree) tell them it is. Which in most cases is misleading, and very often deliberately inaccurate.
In addition, some Theologians today put forth the teaching that early church history (before the Reformation) is that Premillennialism (called chiliasm at the time) was the prevailing view of the Church until the introduction of Augustinian amillennialism in the fourth century A.D.. this is neither an innovative tact, nor can it be proven. Many scholars have studied and written on this issue showing this to be false. Included on this list is many respected Theologians such as Alan Patrick Boyd, graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, Louis Berkhof, D.H. Kromminga, Philip Schaff, Ned Stonehouse, and W.G.T. Shedd. Alan Boyd declared boldly that the best that can be said of the early Church fathers is that they were "seminal amillennialists". .
So the prevailing view that the historic early church was premillennial is quite misleading. They are applying the name Premillennialism to the historically traditional Old Testament Jewish belief that an earthly Messiah would come to reign in Israel. After the cross, this Old Testament tradition found it's way into some parts of the early Church, as did many other fables.
Just as Amillennialism was not called amillennialism until relatively recently, yet the doctrine is as old as the Church, Likewise, Premillennialism was not called Premillennialism until recently, but this doctrine is likewise as old as the Church. Because it's foundation is in expectations of the old Jewish tradition of a coming worldly kingdom advent. History reveals that Chiliasm (or what has become known today as Premillennialism) was simply the rebirth or offshoot of the Old Testament Judaic Kingdom beliefs, cloaked in New Testament apparel. Simply a modification and continuation of the very same erroneous doctrines and misconceptions about the Messiah, His Governing, Reign and Peace, that Israel harbored when Christ first appeared unto them. Author William H. Rutgers said in his thesis, "..that chiliasm roots in this particularistic Judaist Apocalyptic mold cannot be gainsayed"  The truth is that Chiliasm (the age old belief and expectation of the Jews that the Deliverer's kingdom is of this world), was really not considered important enough for the Church to counter until the time of the outbreak of the chiliasts (literally, 1000).
This word chiliasm historically took on the added meaning of a time of universal peace when the downtrodden would prosper. This of course due to the fact that the Jewish tradition held (and still holds) that this prophesy of Peace was an earthly peace, rather than an inner peace with God that passeth understanding -Philippians 4:7. Their view was that since the pattern of six days in God's creation process was followed by a day of rest, likewise this pattern carried over into the Kingdom. Namely, after six thousand years of history there would then be 1000 years of peace (rest). This belief was thought to be supported by the scripture that says 1000 years is as one day (2 peter 3:8). As the time came and passed, this has of course been proven inaccurate.
The Chiliasts of the middle ages (so proudly embraced as the forerunners of Premillennialism by many Theologians) were generally a sect of revolutionaries with visions of grandeur in the misconception of a literal kingdom Israel, in which Christ would physically return to the earth to reign. This compromise (blending Old testament Judaic traditions and beliefs of a coming earthly Messiah establishing a political government, with New Testament Christianity that Messiah reigns 1000 years) is an accommodation to old Judaic worldly ideas. They (as the nation of Israel before them), refused to accept that Messiah had already established His Kingdom in everlasting Peace, and delivered the people from bondage! These early ideas about the millennial reign are rooted in this same erroneous Judaic traditions, rather than in sound New Testament biblical hermeneutics dealing with all that is written.
In times of severe persecutions or despair, there were those who would arise again with this interest in Chiliasm, which was their hope under trying times. The chiliasts (like the Jewish zealots), were to take up arms and overthrow the government physically to make way for the coming king. It was only "after" these heresies began to grow in the Church that Augustine and many others considered it important to speak out about it, to restore the major schools of thought in what is today known as amillennialism. The very same "restoring" or returning to sound Biblical principles which characterized all of the Reformation.
Augustine's exhortation to understanding the millennial kingdom in the light of God's Word instead of tradition and worldly rules and thrones, for all intents and purposes sent chiliasm to an early grave. Calling this, "a doctrine of worldliness," His testimony that the scriptures bear witness that the Church is the spiritual kingdom of God upon the earth and that Christ was presently reigning, galvanized the Reformation and most all of the then Christian world to this view. The fact is, the only Premillennialists of the period of Protestant Reformation were radical reformers . This belief was for all intents and purposes non-existent in Protestant Reformation times. Most all of the Church Creeds and confessions are distinctly Amillennial, including two of the preeminent creeds of the early Church, the Apostlesí Creed and the Nicene Creed. The Apostlesí Creed reads "He shall come again to judge the quick and the dead," and the Nicene Creed reads, "shall come again with glory to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end." In these creeds we see both the judgment and the resurrection takes place at his second advent, and that Christ's Kingdom is not temporal (literally 1000 years) but everlasting. Even the Lutheran Augsburg Confession contained a rejection of the Premillennialism of the Anabaptists. John Calvin condemned historic premillennialism as a theory which makes the rule of Christ a temporary and transient kingdom, which negated the true hope which is seen in the eternal Kingdom. Premillennial tradition soon died out as Reformers faithful to scripture, rather than Old Testament tradition, almost universally taught what we today call amillennialism. The second Helvetic Confession (1566) specifically condemned premillennialism as being "Jewish dreams." This eschatology was clearly seen as incompatible with scripture, and was as a dead issue for the historic Protestant Church.
Sadly, it was revived after being delineated by Baptist lay preacher William Miller  in the early and mid-1800's. In the late 1850's John Nelson Darby  put forth a new form of premillennialism, called Dispensationalism. In this was taught that God interacts with man in epochs (periods of time) or dispensations. This view was brought into the mainstream by Cyrus Scofield with the publication of his "Scofield Reference Bible." Many others, getting ideas from his bible, wrote their own conclusions about it, one building on the writings of another, until we have the dispensational doctrine in it's present flavors today. Premillennialism finally gained general recognition among Protestants after the rise of these errors in the first half of the nineteenth century.
In our day, Christians have been told over and over again by these Premillennial writers (and their advocates) that God has a special love for the Jewish race, no matter what evil they might do or how they may continue to deny God's Anointed Christ. This (besides being in direct contradiction to God's own written Word), makes no biblical sense. Scripture makes no such claim, as it is written, "they are not all Israel, which are of Israel -Romans 9:6". There is individual Salvation, not national salvation. The bottom line of this doctrine is that it teaches that a person's racial descent (being Israel) makes them God's Chosen People. i.e., merely by being born, and regardless of lifestyle, faithfulness or obedience. They are chosen people by blood line, or genealogy. Israel (to these theologians) is a matter of race or ethnicity, and not faith in God. Again, in direct contradiction to all God stands for. The truth is that all Israel is not Israel and all jews are not Jews. God has declared that Israel will be defined by Him, not the pride of men. Truly if the captivity of Israel is made free by Christ, then the Kingdom of God has come, and those who wait for another kingdom of Christ, wait in vain.
What is the Kingdom of God/Heaven
The Kingdom of God theme found in both the Old and the New Testaments, embodies the divine purpose of God for man on earth, and in heaven. This is why it is spoken of both as a present realized Kingdom and reign, and from the perspective of it being the future habitation where the Saints of this kingdom will spend eternity. By analogy, it's as if you receive an inheritance from one who has died. The Inheritance is yours from the moment of death, by law. But when you take possession of it (a day later, week, a year, whatever) that is also spoken of as you receiving the inheritance. Likewise, Christ died and left us the inheritance of the Kingdom. It is ours' right now by law. Yet it is reserved for us undefiled in heaven (1st Peter 1:4). So we both realized the kingdom, and shall receive it at the consummation. Let's take a practical Biblical example. The kingdom as a "present realized reign" can be seen in verses like,
1st Corinthians 15:24
Here the Kingdom of God is represented in the body of Christ. We reign as Kings and Priests unto God on earth 'now' because he dwells within us. Therefore, the Kingdom is spiritually within each and every one of us who are Saved, and when the end comes, and we are caught up together to be with Him, that is the delivering up of the Kingdom to God that 1st Corinthians speaks of. There is no question but that we are kings and reign in Christ's kingdom now, and will reign with Him in eternity.
There is no question that we are companions in the kingdom of Christ, because the King, dwells within each and every one of us, and rules over us, and governs us. His dwelling within us is what makes us the body of Christ, the Kingdom of God on earth. Many have the misguided idea that the Kingdom of Christ will come as a earthly reign and will be established 'over there' in the middle eastern city of Jerusalem. But God has always made it clear that His Kingdom doesn't come that way, it is not of this world.
It is not 'over there' in the middle east, nor could it be after the fulfillment of the shadow (type) by Christ, who is the true. Everyone who is Saved has a part in the Kingdom by being in Christ, and He in them. Which of course is what Jesus was talking about when He told the Apostles that He gives them the keys of the Kingdom, and whatsoever they loose "shall have been" loosed. It's the Kingdom where His will is done on earth, as in Heaven. That's the hallmark of the Church. They do God's will on earth by the gospel! It's their commission.
But also, as the received inheritance, the Kingdom of God is also spoken of from the perspective of consummation. This is because Christ (Thee Kingdom) returns just as He went away, and then shall we receive that which is already ours. This is the Consummation of the bride when we shall join Him and shall be like Him. The principle of the consummated Kingdom can be seen in verses such as:
1st Corinthians 15:50
This is the Kingdom consummated! The Kingdom we are of now, will eventually be delivered up to God to be in it's final state. That is the Kingdom which flesh and blood (this state) cannot inherit! And so clearly we see that the Kingdom is both Now, and it is also the state which is after this life. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom which is future (yet another direct contradiction to premillennialism). For this future Kingdom is the consummation of what has already been done. The analogy is of a bride who is already a bride, but hasn't yet consummated the marriage. Or the actual receiving of an inheritance that is already legally ours. The Kingdom we reign in is now, and the consummated Kingdom is that final state of our reign. Likewise, we are already Saved, and yet we will be Saved at Christ's return. Just as we are now Redeemed, and yet also will be redeemed at Christ's return. In other words, His return is the consummation, the culmination or bringing to 'completion' the realized Kingdom. Christ's resurrection from the dead is what made the kingdom of God a reality, and His coming again is what will consummate it.
Critics excel in trying to create the false illusion of contradiction, when (as you can see) it is quite evident from scripture that we both reign in the Kingdom now, and flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom. We understand by scripture that the present Kingdom does not in any way contradict the future ultimate consummation or coming of the kingdom of God. To deny the present Kingdom is to deny the Word of God. To deny that the future Kingdom cannot have flesh and blood in it, is also to deny scripture. Therefore, the truth of this is self evident!
So we read of Christ's present Reign in the Kingdom, and we read of the state of the eternal, which flesh and blood cannot inherit. But there is not a single word in all of scripture about this 'in-between' Kingdom on earth, where Christ comes to earth to live in. There is only this one present Kingdom (explicitly spoken of), and there is the future consummation where the kingdom is delivered up to God. So again, Amillennialism triumphs scripturally because it is the witness of these things.
Most of those who speak against amillennialism either don't know what the word means, they don't want to know what it means, or they don't want others to know what the word means! Because anyone understanding the doctrine knows that it is simply the solid unadulterated testimony of what the Bible says about Christ's reign. I read one Premillennial publication which decried the fact, "..Amillennialists insist that the New Covenant with the Church was the Kingdom of Christ and that His kingdom had already started." ..honestly, who could actually disagree with this assessment? Yet they say it 'as if' it's untrue. I read another saying the same thing, but then proceeded to soundly condemn it as, "Augustine's Theory." But unless Augustine wrote the Bible, this isn't theory at all, and hardly Augustine's authorship. What book could they possibly be reading which denies that Messiah already has a Kingdom? It certainly is not the Bible. This isn't Augustine, it's not theory at all, nor is it private interpretation. It is a solid Biblical fact! Why so many choose to deride this truth 'as if' it was a lie or un-biblical, is a question that only they can answer. But Jesus Himself told us that the Kingdom was now and that He was sowing seed (Children of God) in this kingdom now. So unless Christ didn't know what He was talking about, or they do not believe what He stated, then His kingdom has come and the Children of His kingdom are those of the Church. There simply is no getting around what God says, unless we change His laws. The scriptures speak volumes on the matter, and speaks it so very clearly.
Again, clearly, this isn't Augustine's (supposed) theory, it's God's Word of truth. The Kingdom (according to God) is now! And we (believers) are all Children of this (His) kingdom, sown of God! From Pentecost until now, Christ has gathered children into this kingdom. Is that amillennialist rhetoric, or is that plain Biblical truth? That is the real question. And who can fight against it, claiming that it is untrue? The true Child of God can only confess that this is the unadulterated truth of scripture!
Isn't it amazing how Jesus spoke over and over again about the kingdom of heaven, and the kingdom of God, and the nature of His kingdom, and yet said not one solitary word about His (supposed) future kingdom or reign on earth at His second coming? If that doesn't tell us something, then what will? This is man's interpretation of Christ reigning on earth, not what God actually said. What God actually said was that the children of the Kingdom are now, and that His reign in the Kingdom is now, and that the future Kingdom is one which flesh and blood cannot inherit. That rules out any traditional view of a coming earthly reign!
Nevertheless, many Theologians still decry the fact that Amillennialism holds this theory that Christ is now reigning from His throne in heaven, and that we are now reigning with Him. This (they protest), is faulty exegesis. ..and they say this with a straight face! But the scriptures are unambiguous. They don't say it implicitly, they say it 'explicitly!' If we accept the Authority of scripture this point shouldn't even be a source for debate. Yet, because of Church tradition, it is!
If we accept the Authority of scripture alone, then why is this doctrine so hard for some to 'receive,' and so reviled, and so spoken evil of, and so vilified as error, when it is obviously Holy writ? This is God's Word of truth and yet (incredibly) theologians try and use this as some sort of proof text which they claim shows Amillennialists are not following scripture literally, or correctly. But truly, doesn't it show just the opposite? That, yes, we understand it spiritually, and that yes, that's the 'correct' way to understand it? God's Word precludes a worldly (literal or earthly) Kingdom to come. We could not have been translated into the Kingdom of Christ, if Christ has no Kingdom as yet, can we? That is confusion and foolish! Either this that is written of we being translated into Messiah's kingdom is the truth of God's Word, 'or' it is a lie. There is no in-between. Amillennialism triumphs scripturally.
The Kingdom of God has been present with us all throughout church history, as it is seen in the fulfillment of God's command that the gospel of the kingdom be declared to all the world. Are we preaching to the world of a Kingdom which is only for 1000 years near the end, or are we preaching the gospel of being translated into a present Kingdom. It is quite evident that the Kingdom has extended from the past, into the present, and also into the future.
The Kingdom, this kingdom, was to be preached from that time, until the end come, and there was no other kingdom mentioned in between. This 'end' is when the Kingdom shall be dilivered up unto the Father (1st Cor 15:24). If we're honest with ourselves, we understand that what is called Amillennialism, is nothing more than the Bible truth of this Kingdom being extended to the nations. And who will condemn man for believing what the Bible plainly and unambiguously says about Christ's present reign in this Kingdom?
Some Premillennial Theologians have come to understood this contradiction (their claiming that Christ has no kingdom as yet), and so they have begun splitting hairs by confessing, "Yes Christ is in a kingdom, but He does not yet Reign." In essence, they make Christ a refugee in heaven, just waiting to take rule of His Kingdom on earth. God Forbid! Christ is set on the right hand of God and now rules the destinies of nations and individuals, all for His own purpose and in the interest of the Elect who He has bought by His shed blood. The idea that He does not yet reign in His Kingdom is contrary to what scripture declares, and is clearly seen to be obvious error. Has Christ established His kingdom and is reigning right now in that kingdom? Has Christ brought the promised Peace, and are we translated into His kingdom with Him? Has He gone to the cross and redeemed Israel? All these questions are answered clearly by God's Word. And it alone (being the ultimate authority), is what Theologians should surrender to. Not to traditional views, but to the Authority of the Word. Sola Scriptura! For as Righteous Joseph said, do not interpretations belong to God? Indeed they do! And so the question is, "what saith God on the matter". Let us allow 'scripture alone' to be the Authority.
Christ 'Has' established a Kingdom, not will..
- "Who hath delivered us from the Power of darkness, and hath translated us into The Kingdom of His dear Son."
- "and He shall reign over the House of Judah for ever, and of His Kingdom there shall be no end."
it's not a kingdom which lasts 'literally' a thousand years as some believe, for it's not an earthly kingdom. His kingdom is not of this world, and it lasts forever. A 'literal' 1000 year kingdom on earth just doesn't qualify! We were translated from the Kingdom of darkness, and into the Kingdom of Christ, a kingdom of Light. We are now as strangers and pilgrims here because our real
home/kingdomis in Heaven. But when we are in Christ, we are in Heaven on earth, waiting the time when we'll possess the Kingdom which we have already received, which is reserved for us.
Christ 'Is' a king right Now, not will be..
- "And Jesus came and spake unto them saying, All Power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.
- go ye therefore and teach all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
He is not going to be a king someday, and we going to be servants of the King someday; He is King now, in both heaven and earth, and will reign until He hath put all things under His feet, and we are now the servants of that king, and he has all rule. Note carefully that it says in both heaven, and earth! David's Son will forever be, "King of kings and Lord of lords." An earthly kingdom (which Christ rejected) has absolutely nothing to do with that fact (see acts 2:30-31). Christ "now" reigns on the throne of David. Again, that's not Amillennialist rhetoric, it's the Biblical facts which we can read ourselves.
Christ 'Does' Reign in His Kingdom, not will..
1st Corinthians 15:25
- "For He must reign, until He hath put all enemies under His foot."
- "and again Isaiah saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and He that shall rise to reign over the gentiles, in him shall the gentiles trust."
Though many arrogantly deny this, what does the scriptures say? Christ is already reigning over His kingdom. He is our now our king, and we are now His servants worshipping and serving him in this kingdom. He will reign in this established Kingdom until He hath put all enemies under His foot, and then will be the consummation of the Kingdom. NOTE: the last enemy will be death. Which of course means, He must reign from now, until the white throne judgment. Once again, condemnation of postmillennialism and premillennialism. This reign 'obviously' must be now, started at the ascension, and 'must' last from the ascension to the throne, to the judgment when the last enemy death, is put under His feet. CLEARLY, to deny this is to deny what is written here.
We 'Do' Reign with Christ in His Kingdom, not
- "and hath raised us up together, and made us to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus."
In our spirit we have been raised up with Christ, in our bodies we reign on the earth as Kings and Priests unto God (As prophesied and fulfilled; Ex. 19:16; 1st peter 2:9; Rev. 1:5-6; 5:9-10) because He redeemed us to God by His blood, and raised us to sit in heavenly places. Therefore are we kings and priests unto God and reign on earth. These aren't theories based on misunderstandings, this is not Augustins' words, this is the witnesses of scripture. We reign with him right now, according to God's Word alone. Else, He hasn't redeemed us and made us a Royal (king is the same Greek word) Priesthood as 1st Peter says.
Christ 'Has' brought Peace to the earth, not
- "To give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the Way of Peace."
- Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth Peace, good will towards men."
- "PEACE I leave with you, My Peace I give to you. Not as the world giveth give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither be afraid."
Messiah already brought a kingdom, and brought peace to the earth. It's not a peace as the world defines it, or as Premillennialism defines it, or peace as the world gives peace (between two earthly nations), it's peace between God and man. Not peace between the Arabs and the Jews, but a peace wherein your heart will not be troubled, because the enmity between you and God is gone. It is the peace wherein you have no need to fear the wrath of God. This is The peace Christ brought to the earth, the peace that passeth understanding. Not a peace between the earthly nations. A peace which is far superior, which is far more precious and lasting. The unspeakable Gift of the Kingdom sent into all nations!
Christ 'Has' redeemed Israel, not will..
- "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and Redeemed His people."
- "But we trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel; and besides all this, today is the third day since these things were done."
- "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree."
Christ has redeemed Israel from the curse by dying on the cross and becoming cursed for them. Christ became sin for His People (2nd Cor. 5:21). Unfortunately, many Theologians are making the "exact" same mistake that the children of Israel did at Christ's first advent when they rejected Him. They didn't understand how the redemption of Israel takes place, or how the captivity of Israel must be set free! It's by the death of Christ at the cross, not some action or event in the future. They misapply, misunderstand, and misuse the scriptures to teach that these things are to be understood in a worldly fashion. Worldly peace, worldly government, worldly redemption, freedom from earthly prisons or literal earthly captivity, and worldly reigns, kingdoms and nations. This is the error of Israel, Premillennialism, and to some degree, Postmillennialism in their seeking to convert the world, and not the remnant 'out of' the world. The age old Judaic errors, wrapped up in New Testament clothing.
As we saw in the book of revelation, John speaks of being a "brother, and companion in tribulations, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ," (Rev. 1:9). How can he be, if Christ has not established His Kingdom as yet? It makes no sense! All the witness of scripture says the same thing. The Israel of God is Christ, and he whom is in Christ, is in the Kingdom of God. A Kingdom cannot not a Kingdom without a King! He who is servant of the Lord, must have a kingdom in which to serve, and a king to which they serve. This is simple everyday logic and common sense. We can't have Christ as our ruling King, without a Kingdom.
The First Resurrection
Another point which many detractors of the Amillennialist position decry, is that Amillennialism teaches that the first resurrection is the new birth. But again, either that is true, or God is not telling the truth when He says it! Christ is the first born from the Dead, that in all things he might have Preeminence. So the question is, "is Christ the first born from the dead, or not?" Because if that's not true, then the Resurrection wherein God says "we were raised up in His death," is frankly all a monumental deception. If it's not true, then when Jesus told Martha (who said that Lazarus would be raised up in the last day) that, "it was HE who was the Resurrection," is all a lie, and all those raised in Him are not really raised up in His First Resurrection. We must then ask ourselves, "are believers raised up with Christ in a Pretend Resurrection, or was that really the first resurrection?" were we ever dead before and raised up before Christ raised us up? No! This is the "First" Resurrection! Do we really believe Christ was the first born from the dead? The answer is obvious of course. At least it is to faithful students of scripture. We were raised up with Christ in his "First Resurrection!" Again, maybe not according to some Theologians, but according to the Holy Scriptures we were. And interpretations do belong to God, not man.
And so according to 'scripture alone,' it would seem that many are really missing the whole point about the First Resurrection from the dead. For if it's not the first (in God's defining of the First), then we have chaos, confusion, and a contradiction in the scriptures which sticks out like a sore thumb.
Scripture speaks of two Resurrections of the dead. It speaks of the Resurrection in Christ (regeneration, for example in John 11:25, Ephesians 2:5) which is the called the First, But it also speaks of another Resurrection at the last day (John 11:24, 1st Cor. 15:52). Only one can be the First Resurrection of the Saints. ..ONLY ONE! And that is what many Theologians cannot seem to comprehend. You cannot have two separate events, both called the First Resurrections in scripture. It's Confusion! God is not the author of confusion, man is! In Revelation 20:5, the First Resurrection refers to what has occurred that made the souls of those who have died able to reign with Christ, while the souls of the unsaved (Called, "the rest" of the dead) could not go to live and reign with Christ. We see there that "they lived not again" until the second Resurrection when they must be raised from death to stand for judgment. And so we have the souls of some who die (those saved) which though they are dead, yet their souls live and reign with Christ in heaven, and that is contrasted with "the rest of the dead" (the unsaved) who when they die, don't live again until the second Resurrection. The ones who reign with Christ after death are those who have part in the 1st Resurrection. The expression, the First Resurrection clearly refers to the Souls of the martyred Saints that are raised first, in distinction from the raising of these wicked (rest of the dead) 'after' the millennium. This would be at the second resurrection. Again, totally consistent with the view of those called amillennialist, and contradictory to other views.
Again, some attempt to split hairs declaring, Resurrection is not the exact wording 'first resurrection,' and so the conclude Christ's resurrection is not the first resurrection, just the resurrection. But if (as righteous Joseph says), "God shall give an answer of peace, for interpretations belong to Him," then God (Sola Scriptura) must define the First Resurrection, not man! And Graciously, He does. But again, 'if we will receive it!' And again, He He does it unambiguously!
These are the exact same two Greek words as found in Revelation chapter 20. This is the "First Resurrection" according To God! Note, it's according to God, not amillennialists, not Augustin, nor Origen, but God! Who would dare to say this is untrue? The sad truth is, many will dare to say it! Nevertheless, this is the raising of Christ from death on the cross, to life, and God defines it as the "First Resurrection!" And so, as saith the scriptures, "Let God be True, and every man a liar (-Rom. 3:4)". Once again, Amillennialism triumphs scripturally and is found to be clearly nothing more than what is defined by the scriptures. The First Resurrection was instituted at Christ's Resurrection. His ascension to the throne was the start of the Millennial reign in Christ, and all those who have part in it are they who reign in the Kingdom of God, being raised up with Him, and upon these, the second death hath no part. Blessed are those who have part in the First Resurrection, for they are the Kings and Priests unto God, the Children of the Kingdom!
When we study scripture carefully, we find that most of the prophecies concerning Israel and the millennial kingdom are now being spiritually fulfilled through the Church, which is spiritual Israel by being the body of Christ. Peace has been brought, we have no fear of our enemies, the government is upon His shoulders, He rules and we serve, we live and reign with Christ in his kingdom, we are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to God's Promises to Him. But again, this is (incredibly) railed upon by many as both unbiblical and as unrighteous spiritualizing. But, in all honesty, there is not much question about the truth of it. The New Testament or Covenant (same word) is with Israel (according to scripture) and so unless the scriptures are wrong, or the Church isn't a part of this New Covenant in Christ's blood, then once again, premillennialism is barking up a tree with a Lion in it. The Gentiles are as branches grafted 'into' the Covenant tree "Israel." This is clearly signified in chapters such as Romans 11. The Olive tree symbolizes Covenant Israel on both the old and new Covenant side of the cross, with those gentiles grafted in, on the New Covenant side. So, what's to debate? We who were once Gentiles, are as branches taken from our wild gentile tree, grafted into the tree representing the Covenant with Israel, and made a part of 'this' Covenant Tree. It is clear, these two trees represent gentiles, and Israel. To deny this is to deny scripture. So again, what scriptures are these detractors not reading? Moreover,
In times past, before we were in Christ, we were Gentiles, uncircumcision, aliens, strangers from the commonwealth of israel. But not anymore! All of these scriptures become null and void in the humanist views, but are totally consistent with what is called Amillennialism. By the "First Resurrection," we are brought into Israel. Jew and Gentile reconciled into one body, by Christ, to God. There is One Body, not two! One Israel of God, not two. One Olive Tree of God, not two! One everlasting Covenant with the Israel of God, not two. One man strengthened that Covenant in His blood at the cross (for all), and He is not going to do it again in the future. The Redemption of Israel "has" been accomplished. Their king has come, and He reigns, and will reign until He puts all enemies under His feet. This is the Millennial Reign! When He shall return, it will be for the 2nd Resurrection, the raising of the dead, and the for Judgment. We have no part in that judgement, for we have already been raised in Christ wherein we shall never die. There is no Second death for those who have part in the First Resurrection. If we will receive it.
The 1000 Years!
Some Theologians look at the number 1000 in revelation 20, and insist that it must be a literal length of Time. In fact, some go so far as to say, it's precluded that it can be understood any way but literal. But the Book of Revelation is replete with symbolism and figurative language, so why would anyone even begin to think that this 'must' be understood literally? Considering the context, they'd have to be predisposed to doing so! It is self evident that they are showing their bias by even making such an untenable statement. Dragons, 7 headed Beasts, candlesticks, locusts, vials poured out, blood came out of a winepress, unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs? Who are they kidding saying it must be taken literally? By the Spirit we understand that what is literal and what is spiritual is defined by the scriptures, not by popular opinion, or because some Theologian says it must be. And when we take all things into consideration, we are brought to the conclusion that the number 1000 signifies the fullness of time. But since the understanding of the number 1000 of Revelation is dealt with extensively in the Revelation Chapter 20 study, we will not go too deeply into it again here.
Briefly, numbers are often used in scripture to signify spiritual truths. One Thousand signifies the fullness of whatever is in view. This spiritual significance includes the number 10 and multiples of it, as 100, 1000 (see the Numbers study). The numbers 10, 100 and 1000 are round numbers which are even in our day used figuratively to illustrate the fullness of whatever is in view. As in someone saying, "I've told you ten times already" or "I'll love you a thousand years". Likewise these numbers are used to illustrate the fullness of whatever is being talked about in scripture, whether time, virgins, plagues, Blood, or whatever. For example, the days of the tribulation of the Church of Smyrna are 10 signifying the fullness of time. Or in the parable of the 10 virgins, in which the 10 signifies the fulness of the Church. Again, the beast that appears with 10 horns, which signifies the fullness of time it has to reign in power (horns=Power) near the end. Note other pertinent applications, as that there were ten plagues upon Egypt, signifying the fullness of God's wrath upon Egypt; the ten commandments, which signified the fullness of His law and will concerning us; or the ten talents, etc., etc. The number 10 signifies that a full measure of something is in view. And so considering all these things, along with the apocalyptic (uncovering) and symbolic character of the book of Revelation, there is no question but that Christians are justified in considering a figurative view. In order to insist that the 1000 years of Revelation 20 must be understood literally, one must first show that a figurative understanding is Biblically unjustified. And that cannot be done. The number 1000 is 10 multiplied by 100, and represents the fullness of this long period of time. The fullness of time that Satan is confined, the fullness of time the Church reigns as the kingdom of Christ on in the world, and the fullness of time which the rest of the dead who didn't have part in the First Resurrection will 'not live' again before the second resurrection unto judgment.
Old Covenant promises to Israel, Fulfilled in New Covenant Israel
The Old Testament as understood by Premillennialists is Israel-centered rather than God centered. But the New Testament reveals that the history, ordinances, and indeed the nation of Israel itself were types and shadows of spiritual realities that would come in the days of Christ (Col. 2:17; Heb. 8:1-5; 10:1; 1 Cor. 10:18). Not fully understanding this most basic of Biblical principles is at the root of most of the millennial error of Theologians. But when God says something is fulfilled, then it is! Israel's types (Prophets, Jerusalem, Feasts, Priests, the Law, Kingdom, Land, Sacrificial System, Temple, Deliverance, etc.) were all fulfilled in Christ (Luke 24:27). The problem is that many people (consciously or unconsciously) refuse to accept the fact that these types were actually fulfilled in Christ. They may give lip service to it, but in practice they deny it. But the scriptures are devastating to such an approach to the Old Testament prophesy, for it would prolong what God has once and for all abolished by the cross. Namely, the institutions and shadows that were Israel. These "types" were fulfilled.
That all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses and the Prophets. National Israel rejected Christ for the very same reasons that some Theologians today reject Amillennialism. They wouldn't receive the fact that He was the fulfillment of scripture of the Messiah who was to come and rule. Because their Judaic traditions and ideas of a ruler, and a kingdom, didn't fit what Jesus came to do, or the Kingdom He came to establish. Premillennialism, and in a sense Postmillennialism, looks for the very same worldly or earthly fulfillments in prophesy, not discerning that it is the very same error of Israel. In fact, Premillennialism is 'nothing less' than the old Judaic law bound earthly expectations. It is the age old belief that Christ's Kingdom is an earthly Kingdom in a form like the world's kingdoms. In other words, in an earthly city in a geographical location on earth. They don't understand that Christ's Kingdom is not meat and drink, or made with hands, or in any way as the world defines kingdoms.
Let's look at some of the basic Biblical foundations of amillennialism. If the promises to Israel were to the Church Israel, and not the mid eastern nation or people, then we should see the fulfillment of them written clearly by God in scripture. And if we do, then these worldly doctrines are found wanting, and again Amillennialism triumphs Scripturally. Then is made known the age old adage of the Reformers:
"the Old Testament is the New Testament Concealed, and the New Testament is the Old Testament Revealed."
In that statement is seen the intellectual depths of God's wisdom in Prophecy. The New Testament or Covenant (with Israel) reveals the truth of the old. Many of the Prophesies concerning Israel (for example Jeremiah 31, and Hosea 1), refers to the Church, the elect of all nations. It is only in this that God's promise that Israel would never cease to be a "nation" before Him, is fulfilled (Jer, 31:36). Most certainly He was not speaking about an earthly nation, as the earthly nation of Israel has ceased to exist for a time. Until 1948 there was no worldly or earthly nation Israel.
Israel as a nation rejected Christ's truth concerning this also, and it seems much of the Church today are following in that same error, not understanding fully the concept of "types" and the fulfillment thereof. The Millennial reign and the redemption of Israel started at the cross. The promises to Israel are not now null and void, as some claim. Indeed Israel has not been abandoned. The Promises to Israel stand because they were not made to a literal earthly nation, but to a Chosen People! And they are fulfilled in those who God Chooses, and defines as Israel. Whosoever man defines as Israel, is insignificant. Christ is the true Israel. Therefore, those in Him are Israel just as they are Christ-ians. Looking at the promises made to Israel and their fulfillment, we get a better understanding of the Old Testament, in the "light" of the New.
The Promise made to Israel
The Promised fulfillment in Israel, The Church
There is the undeniable truth of Fulfillment in the Church of what God had promised to Israel in hosea. The Mystery of the Old is revealed in the New Testament. He has made both Jew and Gentile one body, and that is the promise of the Children of Israel being as the sand of the sea. To deny this is to deny the very scriptures which says it. To the more noble, these truths are made self evident from the scriptures, by the Spirit.
The Promise made to Israel
The Promised fulfillment in Israel, The Church
1st Peter 2:9-10
Again the clear consistently scriptural view that these things promised Israel were all fulfilled in the Church. And we should not loose sight of this fact in the midst of the various millennial posturings by some Theologians. It is God who says the scriptures were fulfilled in the Church. Consistently, we see God's promises to Israel, applied to Israel, the Church. This is not error by scribes, it is not coincidence, and it is not to be ignored. What it is, is God ordained, and shows us that Israel is a kingdom, and a Priesthood, and a special People "Only" in Christ! In the Old Testament it was by faith looking forward to the Coming Messiah, that He'd fulfill the law of blood for them (by the blood of animals is no flesh justified), and in the New Testament by faith looking backward at the Coming of Christ and his fulfilling the law of blood for them. Two perspectives, but one identical Salvation program! The Grace and faith of Christ Saved all!
The Promise made to Israel
The Promised fulfillment in Israel, The Church
1st Peter 2:9
The law is fulfilled in Christ, in the Church. We can keep His commandments because of Christ! Other doctrines claim Israel (the literal nation) is the elect or chosen people, the Peculiar (special) people, the Holy nation. But here God assigns these terms to the Church! So are there two Holy nations, two special Peoples, two Kingdom of Priests (the word Royal is kings)? No, there is but One Israel of God, Israel the nation was a type of the other. National Israel was a shadow of the true Israel of God, to whom the promises were made. While Theologians err looking for National Salvation, God is very clear that His is a individual Salvation. In the Old Testament, the people were Saved just as they are in the New Testament. By the faith of Christ, by Grace. They were a special People, a chosen People by the Spirit of Christ alone. A remnant out of the nation, but never the whole nation. The Promises to them, fulfilled in Christ!
The Promise made to Israel
The fulfillment was in Israel, The Church
While many misguided souls are still looking for the temple to be rebuilt in earthly Jerusalem, God informs us that the rebuilding that "He" was talking about, was not a literal temple in earthly Israel, but the Temple in Christ, He being the Chief cornerstone of that building again. i.e., the stone that the builders rejected is become head of the Corner. Many teachers are so enamoured by worldly prophecy and visions of Israel building a literal temple, that they miss the whole Point. The Temple was already fallen. Not in 70 A.D.,(as even some Reformers suppose), but when they Crucified the Lord at the cross. And it's rebuilding was fulfilled in Christ, as these verses in Acts clearly reveal to anyone willing to actually receive what they say. It's Fulfilled! Again, Amillennialism triumphs Scripturally.
The Promise made to Israel
The fulfillment was in Israel, The Church
2nd Corinthians 6:16
Again, the Promise to Israel, and the fulfillment of that promise clearly seen in Israel the Church. Indeed, one must begin to wonder, "what's to debate?" Why are so many people so against what is clearly nothing more than God's Word of truth about Israel and Christ's Reign? The reason is because a great many are truly ignorant of it, but more are simply "content" to believe what they've been taught in their Church traditions, rather than searching it out to see if what they've been taught is true (as the more noble Bereans did).
The Promise made to Israel
The fulfillment was in Israel, The Church
This is what the Pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost fulfilled. It is the Prophesy to Israel which was recorded in Joel. The Cross brought that deliverance in Jerusalem. It's not a future deliverance, and it's not a future reign. That Prophesy pointed to the firstfruits of harvest. Not Literal bounty of corn and grains, but a Spiritual bounty. Again, if this is fulfilled in the Church, then the Prophesy to Israel was to the Church Israel! Why would man attempt to get around all of the pertinent scriptures which confirm all these truths? Amillennialism is the only view which does not attempt to do this. We Receive it as the truth of God's Word, which it obviously is. The Holy Spirit poured out at Pentecost is the reason that we are Holy, as God is Holy. It's the reason we are a Special People, a nation of Kings and Priests unto our God. Only in Christ is that possible. Because we have put on the righteousness of Christ, not our own, and thus live and reign in Him. In Him only are we the Holy Nation Israel. For He is Israel, The Firstfruit, God's Firstborn!
The Promise made to Israel
The fulfillment was in Israel, The Church
1st Peter 1:15-16
The passages correlate because they are written to the same people. The Israel of God! Nations can attempt to be Holy, but they never are. The only way individuals can really be Holy is to be in Christ. Then are they "Holy Israel." Without the Church being in Christ, they have no part in the New Covenant with Israel. And this New Covenant with Israel was fulfilled at the cross. It is not a future event or future redemption as some believe.
The Promise made to Israel
The fulfillment was in Israel, The Church
And in case any of the various millennialist groups should look for ways to rationalize this away, God directly speaks about the passage of Jeremiah 31:31 in Hebrews chapter 8, and goes on in Hebrews chapter 9 to make it absolutely clear that this New Covenant with Israel is the New Covenant Church. It's Fulfilled! The Lord has made a New Covenant with Israel, not will make a New Covenant!
The New Covenant with Israel and all the implications of the millennial reign are particularly problematic for the Premillennialists, because Jeremiah 31 is unquestionably addressed to Israel, and the commentary upon it in Hebrews chapters 8 and 9 make it clear it's the New Covenant Church. Read Hebrews chapters 8 and 9 and see for yourself that the passage of Jeremiah 31 of Israel was referring to the New Covenant Church. Once again, the solid foundation in God's Word. And the accuracy and consistency of Amillennialism, triumphs scripturally.
The question of defining Israel is not the scope of this study, and has been covered in depth in The Israel of God study, so I won't go heavily into that here. Other Bible Studies relating to it are also available in the Eschatology library. They all show that it is quite evident that the New Covenant with the Church is the New Covenant with Israel. Doesn't scripture speak of the Old Covenant/Testament with Israel being old, and so the New Testament/Covenant came with Christ strengthening it in His blood (Hebrews 8:15-17)? Obviously this is the New Covenant with Israel, and it's clearly the new Covenant Church. The problem is, many people don't like what they read in chapters such as Hebrews 8 and 9 and so they effectively push them aside or ignore them. The unfortunate and sad truth is, many Theologians are more interested in justifying their traditional Church doctrine, than they are in holding truth. Clearly, in the Old Testament context, the New Testament reveals that they refer not to the restoration of an apostate Israelite nation, but to the Restoration in Christ Israel, and the calling of Gentiles also to faith, in the Messiah. These New Covenant references to Old Covenant Promises and blessings that Gentile believers also enjoy, make it evident that they concern the Church.
This foundational promise to Abram is the premise for many contemporary claims that God has given a specific land to Israel "forever." The truth is, the New Testament shows these promises were given to Abram (including, "in you all the nations will be blessed"), as an illustration that the gospel would go to the Gentiles, not as an promise of a earthly land to Israel. This again is made abundantly clear:
There the New Testament reveals the truth concealed in the Old. That this Prophesy was not of literal land, and was not of the Jews (as of many) but was of "ONE," Christ Jesus, and the nations Blessed in Him. In Him will the nations be Blessed.
Clearly the most devastating blows to Premillennialism, is the Witness of God himself, saying that the promises that he made to the fathers concerning the literal land, were conditional promises (Deu.8:18, 20) and they were "All" fulfilled. NOT ONE remains to be fulfilled (Deu. 9:4-6; Neh. 9:7-8). That is to say, if interpretations belong to God.
So why are Premillennialists waiting for the fulfillment of a time of Peace for earthly Israel, a time promised when they will have rest from their enemies? A time when God would fulfill what He promised to their fathers? Is God's Word untrue or untrustworthy? When they say He hasn't yet fulfilled the Promises to the fathers concerning the land and the Peace, they make God's Word a lie. And it is all because they do not understand the concept of "fulfilled prophesy." Even when it's written in plain language which is impossible to misunderstand (as the above scripture). God says all the Promises to the fathers were fulfilled, and not one thing remained unfulfilled of all the Promises he made unto their Fathers concerning this nation.
The Bible totally justifies the doctrine called amillennialism, and likewise totally repudiates the racialist view of genealogical or National Salvation. Jesus warned of vain genealogies, saying He could of the stones raise up children to Abraham, but many were/are not listening. The Jewish people and the Gentiles are now made One by the Blood of Christ, "both" reconciled as one to God. Not two, but one (ephesians 2:16). Premillennialism curiously seeks to separate what Christ said He has made one, and to exalt Israel to an earthly purpose which is separate from the purpose of the Congregation of God. We should understand the marvelous truth that with the New Covenant, God has not replaced Israel (the new covenant "is" with Israel), He has "included" the Gentiles. There is a big difference! If he had replaced Israel, he would have chopped off all the olive tree branches, not broken off some branches and left some (the Disciples and jews that become Saved). A remnant chosen by Grace. The Kingdom was primarily national Israel before the cross. After the cross, the mystery is revealed that the kingdom would "include" the Gentiles also. The Nation Israel would no longer be the representation of the kingdom. That sign is taken from them, and given to another who brings forth fruits. Given to all those in Christ (who are the fulfillment of the typology). What the Old Testament kingdom of Israel represented was fulfilled in Christ (Thee Israel), and so all who would be Israel, would be in Him. i.e., Israel (the Kingdom) would be defined By God, not men. For not all of Israel, were Israel (Rom. 9:6). Because not all were in Christ. It's "this" which makes men, the Israel of God!
He's talking to the Disciples there. Jewish people! They would be given the kingdom. Yet, in Matthew 21:32 He says the Kingdom would be taken from Israel, and given to another nation bringing forth fruits. Is that a contradiction? What is that other nation? ..it is all the people in Christ! There is no Contradiction, because as Romans 9 says, they are not all israel which are of Israel. Maybe in Premillennialist definitions, but not in God's definition! The Children of the flesh are not the Children of God (Romans 9), but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. Those who were of the promise, these are those who in Luke 12 Jesus says it was the father's good pleasure to give the kingdom. Those of Israel who are not children of Promise (in Christ) these are those who the Kingdom would be taken from. These are the Branches broken off the Olive tree of Romans chapter 11. These are those who have no part in the Kingdom nor the millennial reign of Christ.
Note that the Kingdom Jesus refers to when speaking to His disciples, is "not" an earthly kingdom, but a spiritual Kingdom. His Kingdom was established by the cross and his ascension to the throne. Totally in agreement with the amillennial view, and totally contradictory to the views and theory of an earthly Kingdom and reign. Totally inconsistent with the idea of Jewish people being separate from the Church, and totally contradictory to whom God defines as His People. We have heard the interpretations of men, but in scripture we find the truth of what God really says.
This is what God says about the issue, and it's contrary to man's opinions and traditions. We (the Church) who worship God in Spirit, and rejoice in Christ are the Circumcision. Not according to some Theologians, but according to the Word of God. It's just as the verse in Ephesians 2:16 declared, it's no longer two (Jew and Gentile) but both has been made One in Christ, and reconciled to God. Which again is the very essence of the doctrine today called Amillennialism. God says, neither Circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision (-Gal. 5:6). For God's thoughts are far above man's thoughts, and God's definitions are the authority, not man's definitions. Reformed Christians historically stand out as those who define doctrine by God's Word, not by Webster's dictionary, nor by congregational traditions.
Man confidently declares that a Jew is someone of the flesh Jewish, and adds arrogantly, '..that's all there is to it,' As he piously calls the Amillennialist Theology, 'unrighteous spiritualizing.' But God (whose thoughts are above man's) is the one who declares all these things, we merely give testimony or witness to His Word. This little fact get's lost in all the rhetoric about, 'those unrighteous Amillennialists.' Nevertheless, in God's eyes, a Jew is not by flesh, or genealogical line, but "according to God," by what is inside Him. By the Holy Spirit of God, by being circumcised in heart by Christ in the cutting off his sins, not his foreskin. Not by national pride or heritage, but by faith.
The Myth of Literal verses Spiritual Interpretation
Premillennialists and Dispensationalists love to argue that they are the only ones holding to a very literal interpretation of the Scripture, while decrying that their theological opponents (e.g., Amillennialists, postmillennialists) have the un-biblical tendency to spiritualize prophetic passages. But the truth is, if one interprets with a consistently literal interpretation, he will be dabbling in absolute absurdity. Not even the most staunch advocate of a literal interpretation can honestly hold to this claim. Premillennialists, Preterits, Amillennialists, Postmillennialists or any other millennialist, all believe that the Scripture must be understood literally at times, but then figuratively at other times. They all believe that! It depends both on the context of the passage that is in view, and upon what other scriptures that illuminate it, have to say. For example, if you read old testament scriptures, you may think that Messiah was going to come and release all the Prisoners from the literal Prisons. But New Testament scriptures shed light on the prophesy illustrating that he came to set the Prisoners free who sit in the darkness of the Prison house of Satan. That's God interpreting God's own Word. In other words, God Spiritualizing! Will His good, be evil spoken of by those with a positional axe to grind? Whether we spiritualize scripture or not spiritualize scripture will be determined by God, not by our own tradition or millennial bias.
Further, these theologians don't even follow their own rules. If you read any Premillennialist doctrine, you find that they spiritualize the book of Revelation as much (or more) than anyone else. They don't literalize the Dragon, they don't literalize his having 7 heads and 10 literal horns. They Don't make the prophesy of Horsemen coming with bows and arrows literal. They don't literalize the locusts in Revelation chapter 9 that come from the bottomless pit. They don't literalize the Lamb of God, Blood coming out of the horses bridles, literal vials poured out on the earth, etc. Because "all" Christians realize that some passages must be understood symbolically or spiritually, and some passages understood literally.
Knowing these things, we must conclude that this myth is quite obviously a ploy used to give target Christians the false impression that they are the good guys following God's Word literally, while these other views are the unfaithful who are changing it. But the truth is, we all understand scripture both literally and figuratively. The difference is that Amillennialists don't seek to give the false impression that they don't do this, nor "imply" that it is wrong to understand scripture biblically in it's context, figuratively.
As stated, whether a passage in Revelation is understood figurative or literally is dependant upon the Passage, it's context, and other scriptures which also may shed some light or have some bearing on what is being said. It has nothing to do with being amillennial or premillennial. To see the symbols in the book of Revelation literally is ludicrous, and to make a claim to understand it literally while others don't, is likewise ludicrous. To admit that Revelation is a book where there is great symbolism, while at the same time condemning those who look at it that way, makes no sense! Saying that it is unbiblical for Christians to look at the 1000 years of Revelation chapter 20 as symbolical, is inconsistent and self serving. The 1000 years is in the midst of all the symbolism (Key, Pit, Dragon, Chains, Beast), and to arbitrarily lift the 1000 years from this symbolism, and self righteously declare it wrong to see it as symbology, is quite frankly, "ridiculous!" Interpretations belong to God! He alone can tell us what is literal and what is Spiritual.
If we want to know what Old Testament prophesies concerning Israel means, we let God (thus, God's Word) tell us. We don't arbitrarily take everything literal just for bragging rights, we take it as God intended it, by searching it out in the scriptures to see how God wants it to be understood. ..as the faithful Bereans did.
The lack of understanding of the scriptures, and the promises concerning the nation of Israel, is what drives doctrines such as Premillennialism to condemn what is obviously Biblical. To these Theologians, the house of Israel, and the house of Judah refers exclusively to the nation of Israel, and the promises of redemption to Israel is yet future. But they are unable to explain how Christ did all His redeeming at the cross, and yet their doctrine declares scripture speaks of Him coming again for a future redemption for Israel to fulfil the prophesy that, "all Israel shall be saved." Is Christ going to the cross a second time to take away sin of Israel? No, all those scriptures were fulfilled, and that lack of acceptance of Christ's word of fulfillment is the root of their error. The answer is in receiving the New Testament explanation of the old. Receiving what is Revealed! All Israel shall Be saved, but it will be all the Israel of God. For God has already explained (to those listening) that ALL Israel (the nation) are not Israel! Therefore, the All Israel could never be the nation. "He who hath an ear, let him hear!'
The essential reasons for holding to what is called the amillennial position, is that besides from being Biblically validated, and holding to nothing other than what the scriptures themselves state, it is consistent exegesis, and represents the faithfulness of the early Church to the teaching of Christ concerning the kingdom, which was handed down by the Apostles. While I make no judgments concerning those who hold to the other millennial views, the truth is, Amillennialism is the Only view which is 100 percent backed up with scriptures which cannot be denied (some of which I have posted in this essay), and which consistently gives an understanding of Revelation 20 which is in "total" agreement with All other scriptures. Those who insist on making the millennium literal, choose to deny all the scriptures which teach otherwise. I say advisedly, but emphatically, their doctrines are not doctrines taken out of scripture, rather, they are doctrines read into scripture. Whether of misunderstandings, indoctrination, wishful thinking, humanism, political bias, or Church tradition, their interpretations are erroneous because they attempt to make God's Word of fulfillment, of non effect. Amillennialism is the Only view which is taken direct from God's Word. If you think that anything which I have said here about Amillennialism, is unjustifiable in scripture, I would surly like to hear "precisely" what it was. And if it was all taken directly from scripture, then what is called Amillennialism is nothing more (or less) than the truth of God's Word. It's a word finding it's meaning directly in the scriptures! A statement which none of the other millennial positions can make claim to. For they are generally man's interpretations 'of' scripture, or suppositions, or based on assumptions. Postmillennialism likewise looks at fulfilled scriptures of righteousness and Peace on earth, which was accomplished in Christ, and declares it unfulfilled, and part of a future Glorious event.
It is clear, Amillennialism is what is written in scripture. And what has been penned is that the Christ has come; He was the deliverer; He has redeemed Israel; He has freed the captivity; He has brought a Glorious Peace; He has brought a light to the Gentiles; He is governing the nations; He has established righteousness; He has taken away transgression; He has established this New Covenant with Israel; He is is seated on His throne and He reigns in His Kingdom; And He has made us Kings and Priests unto our God. There is no biblical, logical, or rational reason to look for a Golden age of future fulfillment. We indeed are living in it! Christ did not come to make the World Christian, He came to make Christians from the World. He came for a remnant out of the world, not the world. Christ brought righteousness, Peace, and safety to earth. But not as defined by the Postmillennialist camp, or the Premillennial dogma, but as defined by God. To deny Christ brought justice, government, righteousness and Peace to the earth, is to deny scripture! For while some look for a kingdom of Righteousness, God declares that He has already established it!
Our Kingdom is not meat and drink. It's not carnal, but spiritual. It's not come with outward (worldly) observance, but come to be experiential spiritually as we have joy not in the middle east, but in the Holy Ghost! This present Kingdom of God is Righteousness, why look we for another? It has been fulfilled! Why do some look for this golden age of Holiness when God has already established this Kingdom age in Righteousness, Peace, and Holiness?
None of Reformed Amillennialism is assumption, speculation, subjection, or private interpretation. These are clear Biblical facts from scripture alone. As the cry of the faithful men of old, who read the scriptures and understood the need for a Protestant Reformation, so the faithful Church today must lean to the authority of scripture. Our cry now, as then, is, Sola Scriptura! Scripture alone is the ultimate authority, not teachers. And if the scriptures be true, then Amillennialism is the witness of those scriptures!
As it is written, "Let God be true, and every man a liar!" May Our Precious Lord and Saviour who giveth Graciously, provide us all with the wisdom and humility to discern what is His truth, and not our own.
[1.] Charged by writers such as Hal
Lindsey, Dave Hunt, and Chuck Missler.
[2.] (cf. Bahnsen and Gentry, p. 239)
[3.] Premillennialism in America, pg. 47.
[4.] Radicals such as Thomas Muntzer (a man who was involved in the Peasant's Revolt 1524-25), Guillaume Postel, a feminist who believed he was the Shekinah reborn in 1556, and people like the militant Anabaptists who took over the town of Munster (1534)
[5.] Later Seventh-Day Adventist.
[6.] Of Plymouth Brethren.
Copyright ©1998 Tony Warren
For other studies free for the Receiving, Visit our web Site
The Mountain Retreat! http://www.mountainretreatorg.net/
Feel free to duplicate, display or distribute this publication to anyone who would like a copy, as long as the above copyright notice remains intact and there are no changes made to the article. This publication can be distributed only in it's original form, unedited, and without cost.