Gospel Gazette, Bible Articles

Vol. 2, No. 4 Page 15 April 2000

Gospel Gazette, Bible Articles
By Louis Rushmore

& Premillennialism

My 13 year old son has been asking me questions about the 1000 year reign and the things found in Rev. 20.  I know that there will be no 1000 year reign but I'm not sure how to explain Rev. 20 to him.  He believes me but I want to be able to make him see why that isn't going to happen.  Could you help me with this? Sincerely, Terrie Gaston, Illinois

. . . Can you also give some explanations on Premillenialism and Postmillenialism? Thank you very much. In Christ, Greg Gallardo, Jr., Philippines

The querists above are two of many who have questions regarding millennialism. Especially at the turn of a century and right now also at the turn of a millennium, questions about millennialism abound. A related question and its answer appeared last month in Gospel Gazette Online under the title: Satan Bound 1,000 Years. Further, the article (entitled The Lord's Church Is Spiritual) following this query and its reply also addresses millennialism. These two articles and the immediately following remarks should adequately dispel the erroneous notion of some imminent return of Jesus Christ to establish an earthly kingdom.

The careful Bible student knows that Jesus used the words “church” and “kingdom” interchangeably.

“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:18-19).
Consequently, the apostle Peter used “the keys of the kingdom” to open the doors of the church, first to the Jews (Acts 2) and then to the Gentiles (Acts 10-11). Peter preached the initial Gospel sermon in those respective passages to the Jews and the Gentiles preceding their admission to the Lord’s church. Was the apostle a burglar, opening a door for which he had no key (the church), or was he correct to use “the keys of the kingdom” to open the doors of the church - because the church and the kingdom are the same institution?

Once one acknowledges that the words “kingdom” and “church” refer to the same spiritual organization, Old Testament prophecies relating to the kingdom can be understood in their proper perspective. Daniel 2:31-45 foretold the establish of a divine kingdom during the reign of the fourth worldly kingdom from and including the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon. Even premillennialists agree that the earthly kingdom of prophecy during which the divine kingdom was to be established was the Roman Empire. The place where the divine kingdom was to be established, according to Isaiah 2:2-3, was Jerusalem. The church, which is the kingdom, was established during the dominance of the Roman Empire in Jerusalem.

The Jews of Jesus’ day rejected the spiritual kingdom our Lord came to establish because they preferred a physical kingdom comparable to the kingdom in the days of Solomon. The Jews desired a physical kingdom that would liberate them from their subjection to the Romans. Millennialists reject the spiritual kingdom Jesus died to establish because they, too, desire a physical kingdom. Hence, millennialists expect some heightened “Roman” international political ascension (e.g., Mussolini, the Roman church, Italy, etc.) at which time Jesus will come again to establish a physical kingdom in Jerusalem.

However, consider the impact of Mark 9:1 on millennialist’s aspirations for the establishment of a kingdom sometime soon. “And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.” Jesus told some in his day that they would be alive yet when his kingdom was established. Which is it? Was the kingdom (church) established as Jesus said it would within the lifespans of those to whom he was talking? Did the Son of God know what he was talking about or was he somehow deficient in knowledge - somewhat unGod-like? Are there several 2,000 year old people yet alive awaiting Jesus to establish his kingdom?

The knowledgeable Bible student knows that the apostles Paul and Peter, as well as Christians at Colosse believed they were already in the kingdom - about 2,000 years ago. “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13). Paul affirmed that the establishment of the kingdom was a past event in his day, for he and the Colossian Christians were members of it in the first century. “I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom . . .” (Revelation 1:9). The apostle John matter-of-factly stated that he and his Christian companions were in the kingdom as he wrote the Book of Revelation toward the end of the first century.

Oddly, premillennialism supposes that Jesus Christ will establish his kingdom at precisely the time that Scripture teaches that Jesus will cease reigning over his kingdom and give it as a present to the Father.

“Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).
When time as we know it ends, several events will occur in rapid succession. There will be a general resurrection from the dead of the just and the unjust.
“Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:28-29).
The righteous dead and the righteous living will rise to meet Jesus in the sky.
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).
The earth will be destroyed. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). The great white throne judgment will occur, during which some will be sentenced to hell whereas others will be welcomed into heaven. Death will be destroyed and eternity will commence for all mortals.

“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell [hades] delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:11-14).

Amazingly, many lengthy and complex books have been written based on the first ten verses of Revelation 20 to teach and spread the doctrines of premillennialism and postmillennialism. Yet, those doctrines are not taught in Revelation 20 or anywhere else in the Bible. Further, millennial doctrines contradict plain teachings throughout the Bible regarding the kingdom or church and end of time events. Rather than being premillennial or postmillennial, studious Christians are amillennial. The prefix “a” attached to any word negates that word’s ordinary meaning. In a colloquial vernacular, then, amillennialism means ‘It ain’t so!” Millennialism is not compatible with Bible doctrine.

The Lord's Church Is Spiritual

By Louis Rushmore

Jesus Christ did not come to establish an earthly or material kingdom. “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36). If Christ's kingdom were earthly, Pilate could not have declared: “. . . I find in him no fault at all” (John 18:38); had Jesus begun an earthly kingdom on the inside of the Roman Empire, Jesus would have been guilty of political rebellion. Earlier in his ministry, Jesus refused plans to make him an earthly king. “When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone” (John 6:15).

It is impossible for Jesus to be an earthly king over a physical kingdom on earth. Zechariah 6:13 reads: “. . . shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne . . .” This Old Testament prophecy states that Christ is to be a king and a priest at the same time on his throne. But, the Hebrews writer plainly teaches that Jesus cannot be a priest on earth; therefore, Jesus cannot be a king on earth either. “For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood” (Hebrews 7:14).

“Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens . . . For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law” (Hebrews 8:1, 4).

From these references we learn: (1) Jesus is a priest AND king NOW — IN HEAVEN, (2) Jesus never was a priest and a king on earth, and (3) Jesus never can be a priest and king on earth. Hence, souls who wait for the return of the Lord to establish a physical, earthly kingdom are misguided. The closest to the earth Scripture ever places the Lord in the future is in the air and the clouds when he returns to collect his saints and judge the world (Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17: Revelation 1:7).

It should be obvious, then, that Jesus is both king of the kingdom and head of the church now. This is true because the “church” and the “kingdom” are references to the same divine organization. Jesus used these words interchangeably (Matthew 16:18-19) and so did the apostles (1 Corinthians 1:2; Colossians 1:13; Revelation 1:9). Dear reader, is Jesus the king of your life? Are you in our Lord's spiritual kingdom — the church? Would you like to know more about the one, true church of the Bible?

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Gospel Gazette Online
Louis Rushmore, Editor
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