Vol. 3, No. 7
Is there to be a 1000 years reign on earth as the Baptist people proclaim?
Coincidentally, I was asked recently to preach a sermon regarding Premillennialism. Below, is the outline that I used. It should answer most of the questions one may have regarding this topic.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Thesis: To examine the denominational doctrine of premillennialism and contrast it with what the Bible really teaches about the end of time.
Song: I Love Thy Kingdom Lord
For centuries, extending nearly to the first century, Bible believers have entertained essentially three conflicting views of millennialism or a 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth.
"This interpretation maintains that present gospel agencies will root out evils until Christ will have a spiritual reign over the earth, which will continue for 1,000 years. Then the second advent of Christ will initiate judgment and bring to an end the present order."1
"Another position views Christ's spiritual rule as working through preaching and teaching to bring gradual world improvement leading up to Christ's return. This is the postmillennial view."2
Postmillennialism is typically viewed today as unproven and thus false since, historically through the present, the Gospel of Christ has not prevailed over the world's populace despite the passing of about 2,000 years.
"Advocates of this view maintain that no Millennium is to be looked for except that which, it is claimed, is in progress now in this gospel age. This theological interpretation spiritualizes or, rather, gives a mystical meaning to the vast kingdom promises in the OT. Zion is construed not to mean Zion but to refer to the Christian church."3
The prefix "a" attached to a word negates the word to which it is attached (e.g., moral vs. amoral; Gnostic vs. agnostic; pistos [faith or belief] vs. apistos [faithless or unbelief]).
"The millennium is viewed by interpreters in several different ways. One position holds that the millennium only refers to Christ's spiritual rule today from heaven. This symbolic view is known as the amillennial interpretation."4
This is the minority view among Bible believers today and the understanding of conservative biblical interpreters, who make a distinction between figurative and literal language. Consequently, in the main, this is the conclusion regarding a millennial rule by Christ on earth to which the churches of Christ usually arrive.
Dispensational Premillennialism: "The essence of this position, is that the second advent [Second coming] of Christ will occur at the end of the present age, after which He will establish a physical kingdom on earth. This thousand-year reign will be followed by the re-creation of the universe and the unhindered fellowship of the redeemed of all ages with God. … The doctrine that Christ will return to establish a literal kingdom on the earth in fulfillment of Old Testament promises…"5
Historic Premillennialism: "There is what is sometimes called 'historic premillennialism,' which regards the millennium as a further stage in the achievement of Christ's kingdom, an interim stage between the church age and the age to come. (Sometimes 1 Cor. 15:23-28 is interpreted as supporting this idea of three stages in the fulfilment of Christ's redemptive work.) 'Dispensationalism,' on the other hand, teaches that the millennium is not a stage in God's single universal redemptive action in Christ, but specifically a period in which the OT promises to the nation of Israel will be fulfilled in strictly literal form."6
Dispensational Premillennialism is the more popular form of Premillennialism today.
Some contemporary doctrines are so widely accepted that they crossover denominational fellowships despite glaring contrasts in other areas of theology.
One such doctrine that is not inhibited by denominational boundaries is the charismatic movement, which calls for the professed revival of miracles today and often manifests itself in ecstatic utterances.
Likewise, Dispensational Premillennialism permeates nearly every so-called Christian religious group today.
Hal Lindsey's The Late Great Planet Earth (1970) and presently, Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins' Left Behind series of books for adults and children and box office movie, Left Behind, have steeped religious and secular society in Dispensational Premillennialism.
The fundamental error of premillennialism involves the biblically illicit application of prophecies.
All kingdom prophecies are incorrectly interpreted to refer to a physical kingdom over which the Christ would reign on earth.
"Most of the opposition to premillennialism comes from the assumption that an earthly kingdom with Israel at the head would involve a retrogression from the spirituality brought in by Christ through His death, resurrection, and ascension. But premillennialists hold that the promise of the fulfillment of the covenants and promises to Israel in the OT demand such an earthly kingdom."7
"The thousand-year period mentioned in connection with the description of Christ's coming to reign with His saints over the earth (Rev 19:11-16; 20:1-9). Many Old Testament passages refer to the millennium (Isa 11:4; Jer 3:17; Zech 14:9)."8
Isa. 2:2-3 Dan. 2:31-45; 9:27; Joel 2:28-3:2.
Isa. 11:4; Jer. 3:17; Zech. 14:9.
Additional prophecies are lifted from their contexts and misapplied to the belief in a physical millennial kingdom on earth, Zech. 14:1-21.
However, all Old Testament prophecies have already been fulfilled, with the exception of references to the final judgment.
All of the kingdom prophesies in the Old Testament referred to the event that transpired on the Pentecost of Acts 2, establishment of the church, Acts 2:16.
Likewise, New Testament kingdom prophecies also referred to the establishment of the church, Matt. 3:1-2; 4:17; 16:18-19; Mark 9:1.
All Old Testament prophecies referring to the kingdom and its king have already been fulfilled, Acts 3:24; Col. 1:13; Rev. 1:9.
Another primary failure of premillennialism is to correctly discern between literal and figurative language in the Bible.
It is religiously irresponsible to presume that kingdom prophecies refer to a literal kingdom in view of the indisputable fact that Jesus taught that his kingdom was spiritual and not physical, John 18:36.
However, a physical kingdom is precisely the kind of kingdom that the Jews (including the apostles, Acts 1:6) wanted, John 6:15.
Many of our Lord's early disciples forsook him because of his spiritual teaching, John 6:66.
Consequently, the Jews had the true Messiah crucified because he was not the type of Messiah (a ruler over a physical kingdom) that they wanted.
Having the same defective attitude, premillennialists also reject the true Messiah and his spiritual kingdom in favor of a Messiah over a physical kingdom.
Virtually every premillennial application of Scripture involves transforming figurative passages to literal references to a physical kingdom.
III. Premillennialists manufacture new and sometimes horrible doctrines.
Denying that Jesus now reigns over a spiritual kingdom (church) dethrones him, 1 Cor. 15:24-28; Col. 1:13; Rev. 1:9.
Refusal to acknowledge that God was able to establish the kingdom in fulfillment of Dan. 2:44 demeans God.
The kingdoms of Dan. 2:44 were consecutive without intervening kingdoms.
This prophecy could only be correctly fulfilled and without defrocking God from being God if the kingdom were established during the Roman Empire.
Denial that the church and the kingdom are references to the same divine institution and that the church was instituted instead of the kingdom is a plain denial of New Testament doctrine, Matt. 16:18-19; Eph. 3:10-11.
Premillennialism treats the death of Christ as an accident!
However, the death of Christ is clearly taught in both testaments, Psa. 22; Isa. 53; Matt. 20:17-19.
An accidental death undermines the deity of the Godhead.
The premillennial restoration of Jewish animal sacrifices displaces and makes of no effect the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, Zech. 14:1-21; Heb. 9:12-15, 22-26.
Neither the word "rapture" nor the premillennial doctrine by the same name appear anywhere in the Bible.
So-called proof texts of 1 Thess. 4:13-17; 1 Cor. 15:52 and Rev.1:7 are too noisy and too visible to fit the premillennial rapture.
The rapture interjects too many comings of Christ, too many resurrections and too many judgments, Heb. 9:27-28; Matt. 24-25; John 5:28-29.
Under the theory of the rapture, the saints do not spend long enough with Jesus at his next coming, i.e., seven years vs. forever, 1 Thess. 4:17.
The seven-year tribulation is unknown in scripture.
The so-called proof text is Dan. 9:26-27.
However, eisegesis (inserting a meaning) rather than exegesis (extracting the meaning) of the passage must be employed.
A thousand year literal kingdom on earth is taught nowhere in the Bible.
Rev. 20:1-6 is no more literal than the dragon of Rev. 12:4 whose tail drew a third of the stars of the heavens.
Also, all of the following are absent from the premillennial proof text of Rev. 20:1-6: the second coming of Christ, a bodily resurrection, a reign on earth, a literal throne of David, Jerusalem, Palestine, anyone on earth, Christ on earth.
To make Jesus king on earth would cause Scripture to contradict itself.
Jesus is priest and king at the same time, Zech. 6:12-13.
Jesus could not be a priest on earth under Judaism, Heb. 7:12-14; 8:4.
Therefore, Jesus could not be a king on earth over a physical kingdom.
Premillennialism confuses the Lord's Supper since Jesus said he would not partake of the communion with his followers until in the kingdom, yet the communion is clearly a part of the worship in the church, Matt. 26:29; 1 Cor. 11:23-26.
Premillennialists draft references to "Armageddon" from the figurative language of the Book of Revelation (16:16) and conjure a doctrine of literal war that ushers in the Second Coming of Christ.
Believers have long desired a physical kingdom of Christ on earth, not much unlike the misguided anticipation of the Jews in Christ's day.
However, the Bible does not teach anywhere that the Messiah was to establish a physical kingdom on earth.
Yet, dispensational premillennialism has pervaded popular religion and society, despite lacking biblical support for it.
Premillennialism owes its existence to twisted interpretations of Old Testament prophecies and erroneous affirmations that kingdom prophecies have never been fulfilled.
Premillennialism further depends for its existence on incorrectly interpreting figurative language in the Bible as though it were literal.
Premillennialists formulate a host of doctrines that are not taught in the Bible.
Many of these premillennial doctrines undercut the character and essence of Deity.
Premillennialists must outright contradict plain biblical teachings to support their doctrine.
Premillennial doctrine requires the Bible to contradict itself.
Premillennialism is full of 'made-up' words and doctrines that are not found in the Bible.
Eternal hope lies not in anticipation of a future millennial kingdom on earth.
True hope, based on Bible truth, points souls toward an eternity in heaven with God.
Jesus is coming once more, at which time obedient souls will be comforted and disobedient souls will be punished with fire forever, 2 Thess. 1:7-9.
Obey the Gospel today, Heb. 5:8-9.
Erring Christian: repent and pray, Acts 8:22.
Non-Christian: Hear and believe, Rom. 10:17; repent, Acts 17:30; publicly acknowledge Jesus as Christ, Rom. 10:9-10; be immersed in water for the remission of sins, Rom. 6:3-5; remain faithful until death, Rev. 2:10.
1 “MILLENNIUM,” The New Unger's Bible Dictionary. (Chicago: Moody Press) 1988.
2 “MILLENNIUM,” Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers) (c) 1986.
5 Paul S. Karleen, The Handbook to Bible Study, (New York: Oxford University Press) 1987.
6 The New Bible Dictionary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.) 1962.