Where the world comes to study the Bible


I. Background

A. Others....believe in a literal return of Christ. But there will be no literal millennium. Millennial passages apply to the present reign of the Lord over his own or to the eternal state in the new heavens and earth. The conclusion of this present evil age will feature Christ's return, the resurrection of all men and one final judgment. (Amillennialists)

B. Christ literally returns to earth after a long period of peace brought to pass by the success of missionary efforts. As Christians continue to preach the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, the great majority of people in the world will be Christianized. Peace naturally follows this universal acknowledgment of Christ's lordship. Following the millennium will be Christ's return, the resurrection of all men and the final judgment. (Postmillennialists)

C. Some anticipate Christ's literal return before his literal rule over all the earth. Only the Jewish aspects of the millennium are figurative, for at his first coming Christ forever abolished the distinction between Jew and Gentile. Israel may be converted, but is not prominent. Christ's present headship of the church and his coming rule of the nations are very similar. At his return the just are raised and judged. Only after the millennium will the wicked be raised and judged. (Historic premillennialists)

D. Others take literally, not only Christ's return and subsequent reign, but also the prominence of Jewish aspects in his kingdom. These expect a restored Jewish nation with its twelve tribes, Christ ruling on the throne of David at Jerusalem, the fulfillment of blessings promised to Israel in the Old Testament and the reinstatement of worship by sacrifices. Christ's present headship of the church and his coming rule of the nations are very different. As in historic premillennialism there is not one general resurrection and judgment, but two separated by the 1000 year reign of Christ. (Dispensational premillennialists)

E. A third type of premillennialism combines elements of the other two. Christ now reigns in the lives of those who recognize him as Lord and he will literally return to earth prior to the millennium. In agreement with historical premillennialists, Christ's 1000 year reign will continue the spiritual oneness of Jew and Gentile in Christ. Spiritually, Christ's present and future Lordship are similar. But in agreement with dispensational premillennialists, Christ's 1000 year reign is administered outwardly, not like a church with pastors and deacons, but like the Jewish nation with its king. Christ's present and future rules are quite different institutionally. The prominence of Israel is merely functional. (Some recent premillennialists)

II. Problem

Which view of Christ's kingdom expresses the teaching of the greatest amount of Scripture with the fewest difficulties? (To be answered in IV only after examining the evidence in III)

III. Procedure

Subject these issues to the scriptural norm.

A. Is there any sense in which Christ's redemptive kingdom is already realized in the hearts and lives of believers? (Jn. 3:3-7; Acts 28:23, 31; Col. 1:13; Acts 19:8; Rom. 14:17; Summarize.)

B. Is there also a future sense of Christ's kingdom which is not yet realized throughout the earth? (Isa. 11:9; Ps. 22:27; Rev. 20:4; Jer. 31:34; Mal. 1:11; Summarize.)

C. Is the future rule of Christ identical with the eternal state after the creation of the new heavens and earth? Or is the millennial reign (Rev. 20:1-4) on this present earth and prior to the new heavens and earth (Rev. 21:1)? Are Revelation 20 and 21 in chronological order? (Ps. 22:27; Zech. 14:9; Isa. 11:9; Summarize.)

D. Will Christ come after the church has Christianized the majority of people in the world? Or when Christ returns will unbelief and rebellion be prominent? (Mt. 24:3-31; Lk. 18:8; 2 Tim. 3:1-5; 2 Pet. 3:3-4; Rev. 19:11-16; Mt. 24:37-39; 2 Tim. 4:3-4; Summarize.)

E. If the millennium is not begun by the Christianization of the world, is it initiated by Christ's prior personal return? Does the return of Christ (Rev. 19:11-21) precede the millennial reign (Rev. 20:1-6)? (Zech. 14:1-11; Acts 3:19-21; Rev. 19:11-20:7; Jer. 23:5-6; Rom. 11:25-26; Summarize.)

F. Do others reign with Christ? (Lk. 22:28-30; 1 Cor. 6:2-3; 2 Tim. 2:11-12; Rev. 5:10; Summarize.

G. Are two distinct resurrections separated by the 1000 year reign? (Lk. 14:14; Lk. 20:35-36*; Phil. 3:11*; Rev. 20:4-5; Acts 4:2; Summarize.

H. Are Jew and Gentile one in Christ so that no spiritual distinction could be maintained between them during the millennium? (Rom. 10:12; Col. 3:11; Gal. 3:28).

I. Are animal sacrifices forever done away by the one sacrifice of Christ? (Heb. 9:28-10:14).

J. Is Israel as a literal nation, however, to enjoy a restoration as an instrument of God to bring even greater blessing to the world? (Does the spiritual unity of male and female, Gal. 3:28, exclude the husband's distinctive role as head of the wife, Eph. 5:23?) (Mic. 3:8-4:4; Rom. 11:11-12, 15; Lk. 22:29-30; Zech. 14:2, 4, 11; Acts 1:6; Rom. 11:25-26; Lk. 1:32-33; Summarize.

K. Write out and memorize Rev. 20:4-5.

IV. Your Conclusion

Explain your view of scriptural teaching on Christ's return to rule the world in peace.

V. Significance

A. If Christians cannot really hope to convert the whole world, have they any less responsibility to preach the gospel to every creature'

B. Although universal peace may not be permanent until Jesus returns, should Christians fail to pray and work for it'

C. Would a millennium of peace with justice on this earth be a fitting climax to God's purposes in the world and an appropriate transition (gateway) to the eternal state'

Gordon R. Lewis, Decide for Yourself: A Theological Workbook, (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1972), pp. 158-161.

Report Inappropriate Ad