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Premillennialism
The Kingdom of God
Mark Mayberry


Introduction

Christ will come again! Christians eagerly anticipate the Lord’s Second Coming (John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 16:22; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6). However, this does not mean that we accept the tenants of Premillennialism. Many religious denominations advocate this doctrine: Southern Baptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Assemblies of God, and other Pentecostal bodies, etc. Promoters among the denominations include William Miller, Charles Taze Russell, Cyrus Scofield, Billy Graham, and most recently, Tim LaHaye. Proponents among brethren were R. H. Boll & his followers.

There are as many variations of premillennialism as there are proclaimers of this theory. However, there are several common themes that remain constant. Postmillennialism is “the theological doctrine that the second coming of Christ will occur after the millennium” (Webster). Premillennialism is “the view that Christ’s return will usher in a future millennium of Messianic rule mentioned in Revelation” (Webster). In contrast, amillennialism affirms a symbolic understanding of the 1,000 year reign of Christ, which began on the day of Pentecost and will continue until Jesus returns.

The Doctrine Stated

Premillennial teachers say that Jesus came to establish an earthly kingdom, but He was surprisingly and unexpectedly rejected. Therefore, he returned unto the Father and, as an afterthought or substitute measure, set up the church instead. Nevertheless, Christ will establish his millennial kingdom at his Second Coming.

One of the fundamental tenets of premillennialism is that the kingdom and the church are not the same, but are distinct from one another. Advocates of this view say the Old Testament prophets foreshadowed the personal ministry of Christ and also the kingdom, but not the church. They did not anticipate “the church in the valley.” However, this doctrine is clearly refuted in the Bible.

Let us realize that premillennialism is not taught in the Bible. Rather, it is based on human speculation. Those who promote this doctrine systematically twist and pervert the Scriptures to fit their views. Let us review some of the central tenets of this doctrine, and compare them to the word of God.

The Doctrine Refuted

Jesus Was Not Surprisingly Rejected

The Israelites expected the Messiah to be an earthly king. They wanted to make Jesus into such a king, but he refused (John 6:14-15; cf. also 12:12-13). If a small band of his enemies were able to stop Jesus from completing his purposes, then his power is small indeed! Yet, the Scriptures affirm that such is not the case (Ephesians 1:18-23; Colossians 1:16-17; 2:9-10).

This position results in a misunderstanding of the purpose of Christ’s death. The Lord’s rejection and death were foretold by the prophets (Isaiah 53:3-5). It was God’s plan that Jesus Christ should die (Acts 2:22-23; 3:18). He was delivered up because of our offenses, and raised up for our justification (Romans 4:25). We were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, foreknown before the foundation of the world, who appeared in these last times for our sake (1 Peter 1:18-20). Apart from his death, burial and resurrection we have no hope (1 Corinthians 15: 1-5, 17-22).

The Church Was Not An Afterthought

Premillennialists mistakenly teach that the church is an afterthought. However, the Bible affirms that the church is a manifestation of God’s eternal purpose (Ephesians 3:8-11). It is composed of those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28-30). It is committed to the promotion and support of everlasting truth (1 Timothy 3:14-15).

The “Church” And “Kingdom” Are Equivalent

Premillennialists make a false distinction between the Church and the Kingdom. In fact, they are one and the same. When Simon Peter made the good confession, affirming that Jesus was the Christ, our Lord said, “Upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” The very next verse says, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven...” (Matthew 16:16-19). The church and the kingdom are equivalent, referring to the same entity.

The church/kingdom was established during the First Century. Both John the Baptizer and Jesus Christ said it was nigh (Matthew 3:1-2l 4:17). Jesus affirmed it would come during the lifetime of those who heard him teach (Matthew 16:28; Mark 9:1). This promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost (Luke 24:45-49; Acts 1:6-8; 2:1-4, 41-47).

The church and the kingdom are composed of the same individuals (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 1:18-19; Revelation 5:9-10). Both realms are accessed through baptism (John 3:1-5; Acts 2:38-40, 46-47; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:27-29).

God’s Kingdom Is Spiritual In Nature

Premillennialists mistakenly teach that Jesus came to establish an earthly kingdom. However, the Bible affirms that His kingdom is spiritual in nature (Luke 17:20-21; John 18:36-37; Romans 14:16-17).

Moreover, the Scriptures reveal that God’s kingdom is currently in existence (Colossians 1:13-18; 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12; Hebrews 12:28-29; Revelation 1:6, 9). Christ now reigns as king over his kingdom (Luke 1:31-33; Hebrews 1:8; 2:9; cf. also Ephesians 2:19-22).

The Kingdom Prophesies Were Fulfilled

Premillennialism ignores the fact that the kingdom prophecies of the Old Testament were fulfilled. It was prophesied that God’s eternal kingdom would be established during the Roman Empire. The kingdom was to be established in the “last days.” If this did not happen, God failed to fulfill his word, and the kingdom prophecies are made void.

Psalms 2

Psalms 2 foreshadows the reign of the Lord’s Anointed One. This passage is quoted (or alluded to) several times in the New Testament. After healing the Lame Beggar and preaching the second recorded gospel sermon (Acts 3), Peter and John were arrested (Acts 4). Having been threatened by the Council and commanded not to teach or speak in the name of Jesus, they were released. Returning to their companions, they reported all that had occurred. Quoting Psalms 2, they applied it to the unified opposition of Jew and Gentile against God’s Anointed Servant, Jesus Christ (Acts 4:23-28).

Other verses are also significant. Psalm 2:6 says, “But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.” This correlates with statements in Hebrews and Revelation (Hebrews 12:22-23; Revelation 14:1-3). Psalm 2:7 says, “I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.” In the NT, this statement is repeatedly quoted and applied to Jesus (Acts 13:32-33; Romans 1:1-4; Hebrews 1:5-6; 5:5-6).

Isaiah 2

Isaiah is often called the Messianic prophet. He not only foretold the death of Christ in chapter 53, he foreshadowed the establishment of the church (Isaiah 2:1-4). Isaiah prophesied that the church would be established in the last dispensation of time, the Messianic or Christian age (vs 2; Hebrews 1:1-2; Acts 2:16-17). He prophesied that the church would have its beginning in Jerusalem or Zion (vs 3; Luke 24:46-47; Acts 2:1-4). All nations and peoples would have access to the Lord’s house, thus foreshadowing the universal scope of the gospel’s call (vs 2-3; Mark 16:15-16; Colossians 1:23). The church would be judged and governed by Christ (vs 4; Matthew 28:18; John 12:48). Finally, Isaiah prophesied that this would be a peaceful and prosperous kingdom (vs 4; Matthew 5:9; Romans 8:6).

Daniel 2

Daniel interpreted the vision of Nebuchadnezzar by revealing that the image represented successive world empires (Daniel 2:31-45). The head of the image represented the neo-Babylonian Empire that existed from 626-539 B.C. The breast and arms of silver represented the Medo-Persian Empire which existed from 539-333 B.C. The belly and thighs of brass represented the Alexandrian, or Greek Empire which existed from 333 B.C. to approximately 60 B.C.. The legs and feet represented the fourth kingdom, the Roman Empire which lasted from approximately 60 B.C. to 5th Century A.D. Rome was a far-flung empire, composed of many diverse peoples. While immensely powerful, Rome was not a monolithic kingdom, but was divided.

Finally, Daniel foresaw a stone that was cut out of a mountain without hands (Daniel 2:34-35; 44-45). This anticipates the establishment of God’s kingdom, the church. In the days of the Roman Empire, God would begin to carve out a new, everlasting and universal kingdom that would impact the whole world. Premillennialists silently pass over 2,000 years of history and say the toes represent a coalition of 10 kings that will rule when the Lord sets up his kingdom at the Second Coming of Christ. This is pure, unfounded speculation.

Joel 2

Through the prophet Joel, God promised to pour forth spiritual blessings upon all mankind (Joel 2:28-29). Peter said this was fulfilled on Pentecost following the resurrection of Jesus (Acts 2:15-21). “All flesh” points to the universal nature of the spiritual blessings. All men would benefit from the Spirit and his work. Only the Apostles received the baptism of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, yet Peter says that was a fulfillment of Joel. Later, this promise was extended to the Gentiles. The outpouring of the Spirit upon the house of Cornelius confirms that the Gentiles were accepted (Acts 10:44-47). Philip had four virgin daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:8-9), and also Paul tells of women who prophesied (1 Corinthians 11:5). The blessings of the Spirit would be without distinction for age, sex, or social standing (Galatians 3:26-28). What took place on Pentecost marked the beginning of the fulfillment of Joel’s word.

Conclusion

The doctrine of premillennialism has no basis in fact or in Scripture. Let us not be swept away in fanciful or fictitious notions. Rather, let us remain faithful to the old paths and not stray from God’s word. We do not know when Christ is coming back. Therefore we should always be ready. Our prayer and petition should be that of the apostle: Maranatha! Even so, “Come, Lord Jesus!”

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