Posted by: Heather | July 5, 2009

Amillennialsim?

In a previous post where I told “what I believe” I shared my current view of eschatology. I must add, that I have been struggling with end times prophecy for about 4 years in an attempt to learn what is true.

Well, I have been listening to some sermons by Sam E. Waldron online. I am not certain that I have changed my view, but I will say this deserves a look.

The sermons I listened to were apparently from a conference he preached in Fargo, North Dakota at Community Baptist Church. The title of his series is: End Times Made Simple. I did not attend this conference and have absolutely no knowledge of this church or it’s people. However I have really enjoyed the messages.

Here is a link to the one sermon where he puts it all together in a summary, but I would encourage listening to all of the messages from this conference.

Each sermon is about 50 minutes long, and there are 8 sermons. So this will take some time. However, I would encourage taking the time. I find it takes listening to a person a few times to find how they use scripture and check what they say.

I did look into who Mr Waldron is, and this is what I was able to find. He is apparently affiliated with Reformed Baptist Seminary. Here is a link to that info.

After you look into this, I would appreciate your input.

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Responses

  1. Youre right….this will take some time to do 🙂

    Sounds interesting though, we'll try it out.

  2. I've struggled with trying to swallow the concept of a pre-trib rapture and the complex nature of dispensationalism (mostly what I heard growing up).

    History does seem to be fulfilling many aspects of Biblical prophecy, But I have hesitations about the postmillenial teaching that Christians are to be ushering in a literal 1,000 year reign of Christ by engaging in political and geographical domination. That breaks the symbolic nature of the rest of Revelation's prophecy. Why would Jesus switch from delivering the visions via symbolism in order to give a tidbit which is meant to be taken literally?

    My problem has been that when I read scripture for myself, my understanding of certain sections just don't match with the explanations of some of the "last days" formulas. Some passages have been very problematic for me when I try to "fit" them into most eschatology frameworks. You know I really want to know what is true and am not simply being a pain about questioning.

    Amillennialism offers a refreshing, straightforward simplicity and so far it has laid to rest many of the concerns I had about not only "end times" but what other "problematic" passages were talking about.

    Not saying I completely agree with the perspective, yet, but I'm amazed at how my own understanding of the verses make so much more sense when I view them from the amillenial perspective. It doesn't detract from the wonder, depth and beauty of God's plan–but it does free my mind from the agony of wondering why I cannot see things that other people confidently insist are there.

    Even though I tend to get buried in details, I prefer "simple" things :o)

    H

  3. The Simple Guy says,
    I'm glad you like simple things.

    Craig

  4. Why do you think everybody (it seems) is converting to the Reformed philosophy? It is a really growing movement. My husband, an Assemblies of God minister, I think you know, pastored a Reformed church for 10 years (a small conservative congregation belonging to the liberal Reformed Church of America, the oldest denomination in America), and really, we were quite unimpressed with the Reformed philosophy. I don't understand what makes it so attractive to everyone, except making them feel like the special elite (the elect).

    The people would tell us that they didn't have to be born again, because they were the elect (born saved). They were completely unconcerned about the lost and non-evangelistic.

    Today's neo-reformed people seem to have a new-convert zeal about their philosophy and talk about it a lot and attempt to convert people, but I wonder how long that will last.

    But then I would ask them how they knew that they were the elect, and they would say, "We don't know — but we have that hope." (God's elect are known only to Himself, they say.)

    This to me, was not assurance of salvation. But they would tell us that by repenting of our sins and accepting Christ as savior, that was a "work."

    And, yes, they were amillenial and completely unconcerned about the second coming of Christ.

    Not to be argumentative, but it really troubled me.

    I think the reason we were in that church for so long, is that my husband and I, although we are two obscure people in the middle of nowhere, are always on the cutting-edge of things in the church, and by the time everybody else is doing it, we have come out the other side.

    So, we know all about Reformed, although we never accepted it, and can't understand the attraction these days, unless it is an over-reaction to the silly health and wealth "gospels" that came out of the Charismatic Movement.

    I think, too, that some of this end-time stuff can never be proven. We are just promised a blessing if we read Revelation, and we are supposed to be eagerly looking forward to His coming.

    I hope I didn't offend. I'm just amazed at what is popular today among young people in the Church.

  5. I guess there are extremes. The amillennialism seemed to put the second coming of Christ completely off the radar of these Christians. However, the other extreme, where Christians don't plan for the future or are completely paranoid about the Mark of the Beast and stuff like that is just as bad, I guess.

    I was raised Catholic, and I think they are amillennial, and we were just taught that the world was going to end one day with a big bang and that would be the end of it.

    Personally, I hold to the dispensational view myself. It seems to make the most sense to me.

    Well, I think it is good to look into these things. Keeps us on our toes.

  6. Mary,

    Craig will probably pop in after work.

    No offense taken. We aren't officially "Reformed" or "Calvinist".

    If you're not asking the questions we were, you might consider it to
    be a waste of your time to listen to the sermons Craig linked. However, if you're curious about better understanding the amillenial belief, they are well worth the time, IMO. For instance, it is worth noting that the term a-millenial is actually a misnomer. The belief isn't that there is *no* millenial reign of Christ but that it is a symbol, rather than a literal end of time event.

    The man giving the sermons definitely has a concern for Christ's second coming and I felt he was not at all condescending about his presentation.

    The Reformed people you encountered are not an accurate representation of all those who hold to the doctrine of election. You are right in that the concept of election often translates to an elitist attitude in those who hold to it. I've seen it and find it incredibly distasteful.

    Yet, I'm not sure it is appropriate to completely toss the teaching just because some of the adherents lack Christlike love and humility. One of the blogs we visit is authored by a pair of "Reformed" brothers and they are some of the kindest, most compassionate bloggers I have encountered.

  7. I'll have to make time to listen to this sermon, Heather.

    No, I'm just saying that a certain teaching will have a certain outcome.

    I'm not saying that the people we knew were unkind or unsaved, just lethargic in their Christianity as far as evangelism went or looking toward the second coming.

  8. I do understand, I think.

    My perspective is that all Christians can experience "dry" moments. However, if we are truly new creatures in Christ, we will not be content to stay that way. The Holy Spirit will eventually prod us forward to want to know Jesus better and have a desire to obey.

    Sometimes the problem is not in the teaching but in the application made by the listener.

    Maybe I can illustrate: "Love your neighbor as yourself" is, according to Jesus, the second great Commandment.
    A Christian will recognize that this instruction is subordinate to "Love the Lord with all your heart, mind and strength." In fact, 1 John says that this love for others is evidence that we love the Lord. And it is impossible to truly love anyone unless the love of God abides in us.

    When I hear "love your neighbor as yourself", I automatically think that it applies to me in the way I treat others. *I* need to love others and act toward them in a way that I would like to be treated.

    When a non-Christian hears this, I have often seen the instruction turned around to be aimed at the way *other* people behave rather than be a check for his own heart. They often interpret the meaning to be "*YOU* need to treat *me* the way I want to be treated".

    It's the same instruction but one listener either misunderstands or deliberately bends the meaning to fit a personal agenda. Does that make sense?

    H

  9. I understand. What I'm saying, though, is that what you believe determines how you live your life.

    I'm not talking about dry periods, or people who listened to a teaching but did not live it out.

    I'm talking about the overall outcome or end result of the belief in a philosophy or theology, and all of the people who truly believe it will exhibit a similar outcome.

    Catholics are taught that Christ does not save exclusively, but that believers must also work their way to heaven, and rely on the merits of Mary and the saints.

    Because this is the basic teaching, all of the true believers will believe this and do certain things and their lives and religious actions will exhibit certain behaviours.

    I've never known a devout Catholic who does not pray to Mary and take sacraments in order to work their way to heaven. The doctrines inevitably end up in a certain behavior among the devout.

    Same with Reformed beliefs. The people who truly believe them will inevitably end up doing certain actions and living out their Christian lives in a certain way based on those beliefs.

    Ok. I'll continue. I listened to the sermon. I'll talk about that.

  10. Ok. I listened to the sermon. It was easy to understand and follow.

    Oh, BTW — I seem to have a genius for missing the main point of things — not being able to see the forest for the trees.

    I didn't understand that this blog was for questioners. I thought you guys had your minds made up. So, you are questioning. I finally get it.

    Ok, here is my opinion of the sermon.

    His main point is that there are 2 ages: the world we have now (this age) and the world or age to come (eternity).

    His big point is that THERE IS NO AGE BETWEEN THIS AGE AND THE AGE TO COME. Nothing in between the world now, where we are all alive as fleshly human beings, and the world to come, where there exist resurrected beings who spend eternity in heaven or hell.

    So, there is no rapture, literally millenium (thousand year reign of Christ).

    We just go from the end of the world (the judgment of believers and unbelievers) right into eternity.

    My answer to this is that the millenium is part of THIS AGE.

    The millenium is part of this age.

    It is not part of the age to come, because there will be living flesh and blood people living in the millenium. Not resurrected people who have previously died.

    The rapture occurs at the end of the church dispensation, silently. It is not the second coming of Christ. Those saints that are raptured (living and dead) are taken to heaven, where they will wait until the end of the world/age.

    The purpose for the rapture is so that the church is taken out of the way, allowing antichrist to come to power, and for God to deal again with the Jews. (Not so that Christians can escape persecution.)

    The key now is THE JEW. Christ will come back to reign for 1,000 years with the Jews. I think raptured Christians, living and dead, will be in heaven, not in the millenium.

    Reformed teaching refuses to deal with the Jew, and with the fact that the focus again turns to the Jews. This is why the church is on earth no longer. The age of the church is over and God again deals exclusively with Israel.

    Good and bad people exist during the millenium. It is part of THIS AGE.

    Matt.24, one taken and one left, is talking about saved people (mostly Jews who have turned to Christ) being separated from unsaved people by the angels and the unsaved taken to judgment. This is the Day of the Lord, or the End of the World, or the Second Coming, or The Resurrection.

    After this judgment, the unrighteous will be cast with hell and satan into the lake of fire. The believers at that time will go into eternity with other believers (mostly gentiles) who have already died or been raptured.

  11. So, to clarify and cap it up: he says there is no age inbetween this age and the age to come, like the rapture and the literal 1,000 year reign of Christ (the millenium).

    I say that the rapture and millenium are part of this age. Not some "inbetween" age.

  12. Mary,
    Thanks for your comment. No, you did not offend, and you are welcome on my site any time. In addition, I will not allow anyone to bully you here 🙂

    I agree that doctrine affects the way we live. This is precisely why I have been studying this.

    I grew up dispensational and Calvinist, so amillenialism is not necessarily a part of that theology. As a matter of fact, I never even considered amillenialism as I was taught that they allegorize everything and don't even believe what the Bible says. (no such thing as miracles, etc.)

    My problem was that about 4 years ago, through my own personal study, my pretrib rapture/7year tribulation/Armeggedon/1000year reign eschatology fell apart. I have not been able to replace it. Everything I have looked at (as far as "canned" eschatology went) did not stand up to honest scrutiny when compared with Scripture.

    I am not saying that I agree with amillennialism at this point. This is precisely why I put it on the blog, in an attempt to get counsel from many wise people, so I can examine it more thoroughly. (I was hoping you would stop by and comment, as I respect you and your husband's experience and perspective)

    The reasons I have gotten excited by this are:
    1) It lines up with several things I already kind of thought based upon my own study
    2) It seems to be based on the details of what Jesus taught throughout his ministry, not just on selected prophetic texts interpreted through someone's "decoder ring" (a little tongue in cheek there, I hope you realize)
    3) The application of this teaching is very simple, and fits the Gospel message. It encourages me to sow to the spirit, but still be involved in the physical world. Extreme is what it seems to NOT be.

    Well, I have written a very long comment here. I am ready to listen now.

    Thanks again for stopping by!

    Craig

  13. Yes, I can see where amillenialism would be seen as "not extreme". The Pretrib Rapture/Millenium seems like something out of a movie, I know.

    Thing is: everything in the Bible seems extreme and like something out of a movie. If fact, I don't know what Hollywood would do without the bible — ha-ha!

    I am amazed at just how many people who are armenian/evangelical are ditching their pre-trib/millenium beliefs and wonder why?

    I have been saying to my husband for years: "Have you ever noticed that nobody is talking about the End Times any more?" He did notice.

    Some of this, I think, is prophesied — II Peter 3:3-4 "Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts. And saying, Where is the promise of his coming, for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation."

    Some of it also comes from people hearing over and over again the stories of the rapture, and the stories about the antichrist and the mark of the beast, and finally, after many years of this, saying:

    "We've been hearing about this for years, and where is it? None of this stuff has ever happened. Maybe it is time to ditch the belief altogether."

    I mean, people for many, many years have believed this, but during the Charismatic Movement, there was a plethora of books and tv shows on the End Times, and we thought it would happen TOMORROW, even though some of the stuff seemed far-fetched (the technology for such things as a mark of the beast and "every eye" beholding the 2 slain witnesses of Revelation, etc.).

    Well, I find it funny that now, 30 years or so later after the Charismatic Movement, we DO have the technology to do all of these things, but the interest in End Times has faded.

    I think people just got tired of waiting for these things to happen. I guess their children and grandchildren have no interest at all.

  14. Don’t know how relevant it is but Im reminded of a study I did on grave markers of Roman Catholic, Anglican and Presbyterian denominations within the Victorian era in Australia which evidence various attitudes towards death and the hereafter.

    Catholic doctrines of purgatory; prayer to and for the deceased as a means of affecting one’s hereafter experiences; and the Catholic belief of achieving salvation through both faith and meritorious works; are quite evident on gravestones. Epitaphs such as “SWEET JESUS HAVE MERCY ON HER SOUL” ; “JESUS, MARY & JOSEPH HAVE MERCY ON HER” and ‘OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY PRAY FOR US’ are common and reflect the Roman Catholic practice of praying for saintly intercession of the deceased. The words ‘Of your charity, pray for the repose of the soul of…’ are frequently found on other Catholic grave markers in this time period. These words appeal to the ‘charitable’ nature of the reader, as a reminder that prayer for the deceased is counted as a virtuous, meritorious deed. Statuettes of ‘saints’ such as ‘the Virgin Mary’ or ‘Saint Peter’ are also common, as are statues of angels such as ‘Saint Michael’. Other mortuary symbolism commonly appearing on Catholic graves include dramatic crucifixes, labelled with ‘INRI’ (meaning ‘Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews’, as found in the Bible). This contrasts with the non-Catholic sections of the cemetery where, if crosses are displayed, they are empty and hence point towards the resurrection of Christ. Good works or attributes are also commonly listed on Catholic graves, denoting the belief in meritorious works for justification and ultimate salvation.

    In the Anglican section we see more simple graves that point more towards the Second Coming of Christ. Eg:
    ‘ON THAT HAPPY EASTER MORNING/ALL THE GRAVES THEIR DEAD RESTORE,/FATHER, SISTER, CHILD & MOTHER/MEET ONCE MORE’ (Fig. 20).

    (These words were written by Sabine Baring-Gould in 1864 and made into the hymn ‘Resurrection Morn’ in 1887 by Ira Sankey. The words are based on the bible passage 1 Thess 4:16-17 indicating belief in Bible prophecy regarding the ‘second coming’ of Christ). It is also worthy to note the difference in Anglican inscriptions such as ‘in loving memory of’ compared with the common Catholic grave marker inscriptions ‘pray for the repose of the soul of’. The Protestant grave marker being one of joy and finality; the Catholic grave marker beseeching those still living to intercede for them in the hereafter.

    These beliefs are also evident, although to a lesser degree, within the Presbyterian (reformed) section. Commonly on these tombstones we see a (usually sandstone or marble) book inscribed with the biographical and epitaphic information of the family. While this could by symbolic of the Bible a closer examination of specific Presbyterian doctrine (eg predestination) may indicate that this book was intended to represent the ‘Book of Life’. Epitaphs such as; ‘BUT THY WILL, O GOD, BE DONE’ or ‘TIS SINFUL I KNOW TO WISH YOU WERE HERE’ reflect the view that God has willed and chosen the eternal destiny of these souls, whether to be part of his ‘elect’ or endure eternal punishment in Hell.

    I don’t know how relevant it is to your discussion, and there is obviously a lot more than the words on the graves that reflect particular denominational doctrines; but I just found it interesting to see how the different denominations reflect attitudes towards Christ’s second coming in their grave markers.

  15. My comment was too long to fit any more (sorry, I know it wasnt THAT relevant).

    Do I look forward to the Second Coming of Christ? Most definitely. Every single day. Do I know how or when or what happens next? Nope. Its not that I don’t care about the ‘End times’ or that Im done studying them or that Im advocating biblical ignorance. But I realised a while ago when I was entrenched well beyond my understanding that Im just to look forward to Christ’s return and spend my time focusing on what God would have me do this day. The joy (and trepidation) I feel when I think of His return is a constant reminder to prepare as best I can for what God would have me do tomorrow. How desperate God is for His children to know and love Him, how I can be a part of that. Of course there is a sense of foreboding…the state of the world and technology etc, certainly makes the End Times seem more ominous. But as you pointed out, people have been saying this for decades…and centuries. And whether I die and am resurrected, or raptured, or ???…Im sure I wont be counting down thinking ‘I KNEW this would happen exactly as I thought’:P. As with other issues I have struggled to grasp hold of (such as predestination) I don’t have all the answers. As I have continued to seek Him, the amount of understanding I do have has been revealed in His time.

  16. That was really interesting, Karina. I never thought of looking at gravestones to see messages that pointed to peoples' views of the afterlife. That was really stunning. It is relevant to a certain extent, because it shows that when people are committed to a particular religious belief, it will be borne out in the way they live and how they view the end times and death and the life to come.

    Although there is some trepidation that comes with thinking about the second coming of Christ, it is mentioned so much in the New Testament. I never see an attitude like you hear facetiously, "Oh, it'll all pan out in the end, so I don't worry about it."

    The New Testament Christians looked forward to it — Maranatha! Lord Come Quickly!

    Also, I John 3:2,3 says, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him: for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."

    Looking forward to the return of Christ, no matter what your end-time view, has a purifying effect on the church. "He that hath this hope purifieth himself." We have noticed that with the demise of interest in the End Times has come a lack of holiness in the church.

    We were always taught, "What if He should come today?" And whether you thought that was the secret snatching away of the Church, or simply the Day of the Lord for judgment and the end of the world, it made you think: what would you want Jesus to find you doing? It had a purifying effect.

    So, if you ask me why there is so much sin in the church today, my opinion is that it is because we have lost interest in the return of Christ. We don't think He is coming back any time soon, and we start to fall asleep spiritually.

    You know, if we have nothing to look forward to except our ultimate physical death, that doesn't leave much to look forward to. But, if we think Christ could come today, well, that is something great to look forward to, and I am so sad to see this anticipation dying out in churches in America today, no matter what denomination.

  17. As a younger person (than I am, anyway) Craig, do you think you got tired of hearing your parents talk about pre-trib stuff, and feeling that "it has never happened"?

  18. No, that wasn't really it at all. Frankly, It was a side by side comparison between Thessalonians, Matt 24, and the 6th seal in Revelation. I came to the realization that the order and termanology was so similar that I had better be prepared to live through the persecution of the tribulation. This totally took my by surprise. I was reading and just noticed that what I had always thought (and was even excited about) just didn't match what I was reading.

    Craig

  19. Oh, yes, I think Matthew 24 and also Rev.7 I believe are talking about the Jews that God is now dealing with again, after the removal of the church. Tribes of Jews were sealed. Verse 9 of Chapter 7 I think is talking about "tribulations saints," which are gentiles of every nation, not yet resurrected, who had come to Christ during the tribulation and have paid for it with their lives (the way a lot of Christians in other parts of the world do today).

    Anyway, it is good to look into these things and wonder. Not that we forget about life here and now and living for Christ and preaching the gospel. But something about wondering about these things is good in an of itself, as long as we don't get nasty and argumentative about it, as it keeps us on our toes, not being lethargic in our faith and evangelism.

    This great tribulation seems like it is going to be worldwide, against Chritians, all at once, at the same time, not sporadically in places all over the globe like now.

    At least that's what I think. The great tribulation is also spoken of as "Jacob's trouble" — believing Jews. I have to look that one up.

  20. I did like the preacher's clarification about the "world/age". That helped me to understand that the rapture/millenium are part of "this age". Like the disciples asked the Lord, "What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age." Meaning, the end of the world, when Christ comes back for judgment, for the resurrection, etc. Very good.

  21. It is interesting that you mention clarification. That would be the one word I would use to describe my listening to these sermons. As I said before, there are several things that I have noticed or discovered in the past few years of studying this topic that have been troubling to me. Listening to his perspective clarified a lot of them, and he wasn't even talking about them. I simply applied what he was saying to the problem I was wrestling with, and the pieces fell into place. But that is while listening to all 8 sermons. He lays out a pretty good case, and does it by using good Bible study methods.

    Still pondering

    Craig

  22. I'm going to sit down today and re-read Revelation. I don't get a lot of time to blog about this in a well thought out manner, because I keep getting interrupted when I'm on the computer — other people wanting to use it, or having to stop and find something for somebody, and I lose my train of thought and have to close my comment quickly.

    My husband had to read all sorts of books before the Reformed district superintendent would allow him to pastor that church, so he read Calvin's Institutes of Religion and other stuff, like the Heidelberg Catechism, etc. He has the concentration to be able to read that stuff, I don't.

    Anyway, he says that Calvin never wrote a commentary on Revelation at all, just commentaries on the other books of the Bible. So, the Reformed people are rather weak on end-times theology, and also refuse to deal with the Jew.

  23. Maybe this guy isn't your typical amillenialist. He does deal with the Jews as you listen on. (talks about them in his series about the final judgment.)

    Not too sure reformed or calvinism is the point in my mind. I mentioned before that I was raised in a calvinist background, but we had people of both persuasion who were close to us.

    Your eschatology sounds exactly like mine used to be, and I am familiar with all of the arguments, they just don't make sense to me as I read my Bible. Not wanting to argue, just want to know how to behave day to day. As far as that goes, I am pretty sure we agree. I was talking to Heather today about James where he says that true religion is to visit widows and orphans in their distress and keep oneself unspotted from the world. (compassionate holiness) I believe we both agree on that.

    Craig

  24. Yeah, ain't that the truth!

  25. Craig & Heather:

    Just wanted to pop in a point you towards what I consider to be the best eschatology resources on the internet from the Dispensational perspective.

    First is Dr. S. Lewis Johnson's lectures on eschatology. It's a long series, 37 messages, each 45 minutes to an hour long, but it is well worth the time. Dr. Johnson died in 2004, but his teachings have been preserved for us. John MacArthur says that his iPod is full of S. Lewis Johnson's sermons.

    The other series I would point you to is Dr. John MacArthur's series The Second Coming of Jesus (part 1, part 2). Again, a long series (23 messages) but worth it.

    Both Dr. Johnson and Dr. MacArthur avoid the sensationalism and pure speculation of a Hal Lindsey or Tim LaHaye. As someone who holds to, and teaches, a Dispensational view, I've found both of these series very helpful.

    ~Squirrel

  26. Craig:

    I just read your "No Links" policy after I posted my comment above. I won't be offended if you trash it. Didn't mean to flaunt the rules.

    ~Squirrel

  27. No problem Gene,
    I will allow the links in this instance, as I want people to come to their own opinions. I genuinely don't know what to think about eschatology. I must say I held the dispensational view for about 30 years and am not ignorant of what it teaches. John MacAuthur is one of my favorite teachers, and I grew up listening to him every weeknight on Moody Radio. However, I just can't accept the hermaneutical gymnastics at this point.

    Not to argue, It just doesn't add up to me. I can't buy that "the restainer" is the Holy Spirit in believers. I the sequence in 2 Thess is problematic in my view as it compares with the dispensational eschatology.

    That being said, I will probably look into the links and listen to some of what is there.

    My link policy is for people who just pop in and leave self serving links without actually involving themselves in the discussion.

    Craig

  28. No Link Trolling, got it!

    :o)

    Each eschatological "scheme" has difficulties. The one thing above all others that keeps me Dispensational is the belief that God gave promises to national, ethnic Israel that have yet to be fulfilled.

    Amillennialists must, by using what Dan Philips has called "decoder-ring hermeneutics," reinterpret "Israel" to mean "church," or "Jesus," or some other "not-Israel," and that seems to make many of the OT promises to Israel just a huge "bait & switch."

    I do reject the weird Dispensational typology that tries to see prophetic significance in the measurements of the furnishings of the Tabernacle and stuff like that. That's "decoder-ring hermeneutics," too.

    I'm getting ready to teach through Daniel, beginning in a few weeks. I'm planning on blogging on much of it, and will even try to podcast my sermons. So I've been thinking and reading a lot on these issues lately.

    ~Squirrel

  29. You know, Squirrel made a good point that I've been pondering a lot lately.

    ****************
    Each eschatological "scheme" has difficulties. The one thing above all others that keeps me Dispensational is the belief that God gave promises to national, ethnic Israel that have yet to be fulfilled.
    *************************

    Every time we look at a new eschatological concept, I see some things that make a LOT of sense. But there is always something that prevents me from fully accepting that particular view.

    I agree with Mary and Squirrel that the Bible does repeatedly indicate that God intends to turn back to the Jews after the time of the gentiles is complete. And, when I read Revelation for myself, it DOES appear to say that there will be a literal millenial Kingdom set up when Jesus returns.

    If the beliefs in the Jewish place of favor, a seven year period of intense trouble and a literal millenial kingdom makes a person "dispensational", I probably would still be in this camp. But I would fall into the post-trib/prewrath rapture category.

    The "secret rapture, two phase return" aspect of pretribism messes with me not because it seems too much like a movie but because I just don't see it in the text. I understand that when Christ returns to collect His bride and pour out His wrath, it will be a single event which all the world will see (which is also the point when the nation of Israel will repent) (Rev 1:7). At that time, there will be a "catching up" and instantaneous physical change of those who have believed in Him. (2 Thess 2; 1 Corinth 15:51-53)

    My understanding of pretrib teaching is that it is based mainly on 2 Thessalonians 2–the idea being that the Holy Spirit is the "one who restrains". Historicists have a different perspective and point to the RC church and the office of the Pope as Antichrist and tend to believe that the Pagan Roman empire was the "restrainer" of a false Christianity and the "man of perdition". That explanation intrigues me as we watch the ecumenical movement picking up steam. It seems as though *everyone* listens to the Pope. I also wonder if the rapidly spreading religion of Islam is an end-times player because of the statement in Rev. 20:4 about those who had been beheaded for their testimony. Infidels who refuse to worship Islam's god have been known to lose their heads.

    Anyway, as I read the 2 Thess. passage, the order of events is 1. a "falling away" followed by the revealing of the "man of sin". 2. Then the coming of Jesus and our gathering to Him.

    When I took off my "pre-trib glasses", the text became pretty clear to me as to what would happen first. Actually, it appears Paul was even addressing the misconception of the second coming as some private, secret event that some might miss. Whoever/whatever the "one who restrains" is, it appears there is no need to remove the church before Antichrist rises to power.

  30. (Imagine that! I got long-winded and had to split my post)

    Mary, you are absolutely correct in stating that what a person believes dictates his life's path. The thing that initially excited me about the amillenial presentation was the "two age" description. As I listened, so much of my confusion about "what I'm supposed to be about today" became clear. The NT teaching about Christ's return is to always be ready.
    Craig described the clarification as "Is ******** of eternal significance or is it temporal?" It isn't that Jesus' instructions are hidden or complicated but the frameworks we build around His words can muddy the water, so to speak.

    Historicist/Postmillenialists seem to believe this means we are to geographically conquer and prepare this planet for Jesus by Christianizing politics and society.
    Premillenialists often focus on the "Great Tribulation", reading "signs of the times" and mapping out last-days time lines instead of simply being sure we are about God's business. If you are dispinsational but not "pretrib", there is a danger of getting worked up looking for the Antichrist to appear rather than anticipating Jesus' second coming! And, I've also seen that some premillenialists have stated that since God still as a future plan for the Jews, there is no need to try to tell them about Jesus *today*! Amillenialists may be in danger of "falling asleep". I suppose.

    Guess the only obvious thing to do is continue to trust that God's got it all under control and be earnestly searching for direction concerning the day I am currently living…

    Heather

  31. The second coming and the rapture are two different things. The rapture is a secret snatching away. Not the second coming of Christ. The second coming of Christ is at the end of the world (end of the age) when every eye will see him. Then comes the millenium.

    My husband and I have been studying this for the better part of the day. I have John MacArthur's commentary and he has been reading out of a Reformed commentary (Hendricksen's New Testament Commentary — the standard of all Reformed people, he informs me).

    We are still dispensationalist pre-trib rapture, literal millenium people.

  32. And, no, premillenial-tribulation- believing Christians definitely do not look forward to Antichrist, because the rapture takes place before Antichrist, in fact, the rapture is one of the things that enables the Antichrist to come to power. So, I am not looking forward to Antichrist. I'm looking forward to the rapture, which can happen at any time, and nothing has to happen first for it to take place.

  33. Sorry for the multiple comments. Anyway, yes, the rapture and millenium sound very extreme.

    So does the whole Bible.

    The more intellectual Christians get, the more the whole Bible seems extreme and unbelievable.

    This is why many in the mainline denominations, with their highly-educated theologians and pastors, don't believe in the OTHER extreme things like the six day creation; Noah's flood; the descruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; the virgin birth of Christ; His miracles; Christ's resurrection; the start of the Church with cloven tongues of fire; and of course, back to the rapture and millenium. Also, a literal hell that burns forever and ever.

    All of those are dismissed today by so many in the mainline denominations as myths, because the are extreme and unbelievable to the carnal mind of man.

  34. Mary, multi-comments are acceptable :o) I seem to experience the effects of that particular "disorder" as well.

    I can accept extreme …and I honestly am not trying to be the bratty little kid who refuses to be taught. Trust me, I would LOVE to be able to have this settled in my own mind! But look at 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4, especially the wording of verses 1 and 3 …

    2:1 Now we beseech you, my brothers, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him,
    2:2 that you should not be soon shaken in mind or troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word or letter, as through us, as if the Day of Christ is at hand.
    2:3 Let not anyone deceive you by any means. For that Day shall not come unless there first comes a falling away, and the man of sin shall be revealed, the son of perdition,
    2:4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, setting himself forth, that he is God. (MKJV)

    It appears to clearly state that the coming of Jesus AND our gathering to him comes only AFTER the rise of the "son of perdition".

    What am I missing?

  35. The Thessalonians were afraid that they had missed the second coming of Christ because of their severe persecution. Paul told them that they should not be moved by the persecution, because "we are appointed thereunto" (I Thes. 3:3). (Indeed, the some of the seven churches of Asia in Revelation were warned by Jesus that there would be severe persecution for them.)

    Paul told the Thessalonians that the second coming of Christ (the end of the world/age when Christ shall come and every eye see him) would not occur until there come a great falling away first and the appearance of Antichrist. Paul did not tell the Thessalonians that they would be alive to see that. The church has to be taken out of the way first to allow Antichrist to come on the scene.

    At least that is my understanding of I and II Thessalonians.

  36. I think we are crossing comments, Heather!

    The gathering together unto Him is talking of the secret gathering of the church in the rapture.

    The Day of the Lord in verse 2 is talking about the end of the world, not the rapture.

    Believers in Christ at the end of the world (Jews and gentiles) are not "gathered together to Christ" the way the church is at the rapture. Unbelievers at the end of the world are taken away to judgment. Believers at that time are left behind to go right into the millenium.

  37. It's possible we're crossing comments. I tend to get really wordy and take a long time to get something published.

    So, is there something in the original Greek to indicate that the rapture is secret and separate from Christ's return? I don't see that in any English translation I have looked at. Is there another passage which supports a secret, separate snatching away?

    The way I understand what I have read is that Jesus will return just before the end of the world, and upon His arrival, (in quick succession), rapture the church, convert the remnant Jews,and pour out His wrath on rebellious humanity. Then, it appears He will institute His thousand-year reign and afterward, administer His final judgment at the end of "this age".

    Again, I'm really trying to learn and not just poking at you out of boredom or something.

    H

  38. Mary said – "The second coming and the rapture are two different things. The rapture is a secret snatching away. Not the second coming of Christ. The second coming of Christ is at the end of the world (end of the age) when every eye will see him. Then comes the millennium."

    A slight shift in thinking helped me with this a few years back. How long was Jesus' first coming? About 30+ years. How many events made up the first coming? A lot, from Christmas to the Crucifixion. Jesus' second coming will not be a single event, either, but a series of events over a period of time, just as the first coming was.

    I've heard people accuse pre-tribbers of believing in two 2nd comings (or, as a amillennial friend recently ribbed me with, "Jesus 1.5!") The second coming begins with the rapture and ends at the end of the Millennium. So, the second coming will last 1007(+/-) years.

    Just as the first coming began with Jesus' conception, nine months before his birth (or even 6 months prior to that, with Elizabeth's conception with John the Baptist?) the second coming,in my understanding, begins with the rapture, 7 years before the "coming in the clouds with great glory."

    My two acorns worth…

    ~Squirrel

  39. The biggest problem I see with a post-tribulation rapture is the question of who will populate the millennial kingdom?

    If all believers are translated and glorified at the rapture: Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. [1 Corinthians 15:51-53 NASB].

    And If the glorified believers do not marry: For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. [Matthew 22:30 NASB].

    Then who is going to populate the Millennium?

    But if all those believers who are alive at the end of the Tribulation enter the Millennium in their natural bodies, then they will marry and have children and the Kingdom will be populated. There need to be a large number of unbelievers alive at the end of the Millennium for Satan to deceive and lead against God in the last battle.

    ~Squirrel

  40. Good point, Squirrel, and I understand what you are saying.

    Where do we get the idea that only Christians enter the millenium?

    Craig

  41. If, as I believe it does, the sheep and goat judgment of Matthew 25:31-46 takes place at the end of the Tribulation, then all those who survive Armageddon will be judged, and only believers will enter the Millennium.

    Of course, amillennialists would interpret the sheep and goat judgment of Matthew 25 to be the same judgment as the great white throne judgment of Revelation 20. But Matthew 25:31 says "when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him," while Revelation 20:7 says "When the thousand years are completed…" and Revelation 20:11 says "Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away…" So, the great white throne judgment is after the Millennium, while the sheep and goat judgment is after the Tribulation.

    ~Squirrel

  42. An "incremental" return is understandable. Scripture seems to support that concept but I still don't see evidence of a separate rapture that occurs before Christ's public appearance to the world. I see Him coming publicly, saving the church etc. and staying until the end of this age–then there will be one final rebellion and judgment.

    Who is to populate the millenial kingdom? Good question. I'm not a scholar but am thinking that the rapture doesn't actually fall at *the* end of the tribulation period but rather just before the bowls of God's wrath are poured out.

    The 144,000 sealed Jews would not be raptured with the church but because they refuse to worship the beast, they would be protected during the time of the outpouring of God's wrath. They would still have their earthly bodies when entering the millenium.

    Honestly, I don't *know* how to populate the millenial Kingdom. Right now, there is very little about prophecy that I can confidently claim to understand.

    I'm mostly hung up on the timing of the rapture due to the straightforward language of Paul's letter to the Thessalonians.

    H

  43. Squirrel said, "So, the great white throne judgment is after the Millennium, while the sheep and goat judgment is after the Tribulation"

    Unless I interpret Matt 25 the way you said earlier and say that Christ coming in His glory covers the entire 2nd advent.

    Just thinking. . .

    Craig

  44. I can see how a mid-trib or "pre-wrath" rapture also solves the Millennium Population Problem(tm) in exactly the same way that the pre-trib rapture does.

    The main reason I maintain a pre-tribulation rapture is the imminence issue. The Bible speaks clearly that the Rapture could be at any time. Not the only reason, surly, but a big one.

    ~Squirrel

  45. I think I agree with Squirrel on everything.

    "Changed in the twinkling of an eye" is the rapture.

    At the end of the world, when Christ comes for every eye to see Him, there is a judgment of sheep and goats, like Squirrel says.

    Unbelievers are carried away to judgment.

    Believers living at that time (believing Jews from the 144,000 plus beliving gentiles — all of whom became believers during the tribulation) will stay behind on earth and go right into the millenium. These are the people who will populate the millenium. Believing Jews and gentiles who are alive at that time.

    The church is already in heaven, changed in the twinkling of an eye, earlier, in the rapture.

    The first few books of Revelation show the church around the throne.

    After about Revelation chapter 4, you don't hear of the church any more.

    After that, the believers you see, Jews and gentiles, are tribulation saints. These go on into the millenium.

    Hope that is clear.

    The tribulation is for the judgment of Israel (Jacob's trouble) via Antichrist, and the pouring out of God's wrath on the unbelieving world. Israel will believe on Christ. Gentiles will get saved then, too. They will pay for it with their lives.

    No, Heather, I know you are not poking at me. We all want to know about these things.

  46. Oh, and ALL Jews, now and then, must accept Jesus Christ as their savior, just like we have to. They don't get special privileges (like John Hagee says they do!!!).

    I think at the end, all of Israel will look on him whom they have pierced and mourn as one mourns for an only son — I don't remember the exact quote or where it is. They will finally recognize Him as Messiah. Then they are saved.

    Like Squirrel says, there are not too many living humans around to go on into the millenium. They will be believing Jews and gentiles who got saved during the tribulation.

    I don't think we, the church that gets raptured, get resurrected for that. I think we stay up in heaven, and then after the great white throne judgment and the annhiliation of the universe, and Satan and hell and all the unbelievers getting cast into the lake of fire, we get to go on the new heaven and new earth (recreated).

    I think I'm remembering all this right.

  47. I don't know why the Bible doesn't just come out and list this stuff. Guess it is not meant to be easy. You have to take everything literally whenever and wherever you can. That helps.

  48. Mary said, "I don't know why the Bible doesn't just come out and list this stuff."

    My problem is the places where the Bible does come out and say stuff that doesn't line up with some of this stuff. (like the order of the events in 2 Thess)

    Like I said before, I have been taught this view the whole time as I was growing up. I am not unfamiliar with the things you guys are saying. You have not said anything I hadn't already heard. (or even believed at one point)

    Now to be fair, I would say that after sitting down and re reading Rev 19-21, I have to say that I agree that there is a literal physical 1000 year reign on earth in "this age" before the white throne judgment.

    I still can't find 2 judgments, looks to me like one.

    I agree that the second coming includes everything from when He first appears until He creates the new heaven and earth.

    The framework that is making sense in my mind is the one of the parable of the wheat and the tares. Both grow together. Both increase and reach maturity. (the brightness of church and the evil of the world) The result is increasing conflict, and final persecution. Then there is the harvest. The harvest would be the second coming. (most of Revelation)

    The reason for vigilance is that there is a struggle that is increasing, and the nature of your life displays what kind of seed you are from.

    As the conflict intensifies, we will begin to see the signs that were foretold. The world will not know what is coming, but those of us who recognize the "fig tree" will know what time it is. Not that we will know exactly when, but we will be able to recognize the season. If the man knew his house was going to be robbed, he would be ready.

    The action item for us is to be found doing our masters bidding when he comes, as is seen in several parables.

    I believe that when He comes, we will meet Him in the air, as He is coming down. I believe that from the time we meet Him in the air we will forever be with Him where he is. Both in the coming millinium and eternity to come.

    Again, just my thoughts, (which have been brewing and festering for about 4 years, and will continue to change I am sure) – not cutting off your comments, just continuing the discussion, as each of you have been very open with me. Seemed like I needed to fill you all in a little more on were I am.

    Craig

  49. Craig:

    Most of my friends are amillennialists or historic premillennialists, so no worries here. I've been disagreed with much more disagreeably then I have here!

    :o)

    Mary: I would say that, during the Millennium, the glorified & resurrected saints (both Old and New Testament, I believe) will rule and reign with the Messiah. "If we endure, we will also reign with Him;" – 2 Timothy 2:12 NASB)

    ~Squirrel


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