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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
Forrest Keener, 1985
This article is one in a series of messages preached by Forrest Keener, during the Sunday evening services, at Bethel Baptist Church in 1985, and transcribed for use in The Baptist Watchman. The essence of purpose, in preparing and delivering this series of messages, is not eschatological, but rather to seek an overall biblical view of the vast doctrine of the kingdom of God as it is revealed in the New Testament. It is my hope and expectation that eschatology will then fall into place rather easily. It is my prayer that God will bless this brief work to the edification of His people, wherever it may reach.
Open your Bibles tonight to the gospel of Matthew, chapter 24, to the book of II Timothy, chapter 3, and to the gospel of Matthew, chapter 13. I want you to have all of those passages readily available when we begin to read. I will not stay with all of them throughout the entire evening, but I want to lay them before you as foundational scriptures for the message tonight: Matthew 24, II Timothy, chapter 3, and to Matthew, chapter 13.
In Matthew chapter number 24, I want to read to you just verses 12 through 14, and I want you to try to remember the basic content of each of these passages as I speak to you tonight, because they need to be put together somewhat in your mind.
"And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall was cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come."
Look if you will then in the second epistle to Timothy at chapter number 3 and verse number 1:
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lust."
And then in Matthew chapter 13, verse number 33:
"Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened."
This evening, I want that verse to be my text; I want you to re-read it and just keep it in your mind, and I will show you later on what the application is:
"Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened."
In the series that I have been bringing on the Mysteries of the Kingdom, I have come to the area dealing with issues of eschatology. Now, that is a big 50-cent word, and for those of you who may not yet know what the word eschatology means, it simply means the science of, or the study of, or the knowledge of last things. Essentially, when we use it biblically, we are talking about those events surrounding the second coming of Christ. That is not the beginning or the ending of it, but that is what we usually are talking about.
Obviously, the second coming of Christ does not end all things. If you are a premillennialist you believe that after the second coming of Christ there is a 1000-year reign here upon the earth, after which Satan is loosed for a little season, to do his last dirty work upon the earth. During the 1000-years, of course, he is bound, then he is loosed for that little season. And then he is cast into the lake of fire. So obviously there are some things that occur after the second coming of Christ. Of course, all schemes of eschatology hold that other events follow the second coming. Yet, when we say eschatology we are usually talking about the second coming of Christ.
Now, the issue before us tonight is, What shall the Kingdom be in the future? I pointed out to you, in the previous messages, that it is not always the same thing. What will the Kingdom be,–Listen now!–in its future and in its last stages? That is the issue now before us. We have learned in studying simple facts about the Kingdom, and as we have studied through the previous eighteen messages which I’ve brought on this subject, that in the past, the Kingdom was not what it is now; and in the future it will not be what it is now. Or I might say it in a different way, it is not what it will be in the future. As time passes there are various ordained changes in the Kingdom.
One of the questions that is frequently asked by the amillennialist, of the premillennialist (that is of the premillennialist who believes in the literal 1000-year reign upon the earth) is: How can you speak of a 1000-year Kingdom, when according to the scripture it is His everlasting Kingdom? Now, if you did not know anything else, that might be a legitimate question, because the Bible very definitely reveals that His Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom, a Kingdom of which there is no end, and yet we say it is a 1000-year Kingdom. Well, we are talking about only one stage of the Kingdom. In other words, the millennial kingdom, that is the 1000-year Kingdom, is a Kingdom here upon the earth, but that Kingdom does not end when the 1000 years end. It goes on, after undergoing certain changes, to become an eternal Kingdom.
It does not begin when the 1000 years begins, because that Kingdom is in a sense present even today. Are we to seek, as a priority, the Kingdom of God? Yet when He talks about seeking first the Kingdom of God, He is not talking about looking for the second Kingdom of Christ. "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Is He simply saying to that person, Look for the second coming of Christ? No! He is talking about seeking the Kingdom of God and being in subjection to that Kingdom in your present status, it is HERE! And yet, it is future. There will be a 1000-year reign. And after that there will STILL be a Kingdom of God. And so we need to talk about the stages of that Kingdom.
When we come to the issues of eschatology there are basically three divisions of thought. Now, there are within those divisions several other divisions, but there are basically three divisions of thought concerning the second coming of Christ. Of course, this does not include the areas of modernism, where they do not believe in the second coming of Christ, or where as I mentioned tonight in the Training Union, they believe it is only a spiritual appearance, or something of that sort. We are not talking about that,–we are talking about those people who believe in a literal return of the Lord Jesus Christ, and among those there are basically three divisions of thought, as we mentioned last week.
There are the premillennialists, who believe that the coming of Christ is before the millennium, that is what premillennial means. There are the postmillennialists–and some say they WERE the postmillennialists, but I maintain they ARE the postmillennialists–who believe that the second coming of Christ is after the millennium. And then there are the amillennialists, and the term ‘amillennialist’ simply means that they do not believe in a millennium. Now, that does not mean they do not believe in a reign of Christ, nor does it mean that they do not believe in a return of Christ, for most of them most certainly do; but they do not believe in a literal reign of Christ here upon the earth, and so there are those divisions of thought.
Tonight, I want to address myself to probably the smallest group, and that is the group called the postmillennialists. You have often heard someone say, he is post-mill, or He was post-mill, and there are a lot of men who were post-mill who are not any longer. They died and went to heaven, and God straightened them out–now that was supposed to be funny! But basically there have been a lot of men down through the ages who have been postmillennialists, and the doctrine has much less popularity today than it had then. I want to talk to you tonight about four things–I shouldn’t keep you very long. I will, but I shouldn’t.
First of all the belief of the postmillennialist: What does he believe?
Secondly, What are the scriptures, and I should say what is the nature of the scriptures that he uses because I could not deal with all the scriptures tonight, either from the angle of my ability nor in the amount of time that we have.
Thirdly, What are the postmillennialist’s problems, that is, the inconsistencies in their teaching?
And finally I want to make a statement wherein I hope to show you that postmillennialism is compatible with modernism.
I do not say that postmillennialism is modernism, because many of the conservative preachers of the gospel of past years, who in their time were conservative men, have been postmillennialists. It would not be fair and it would not be accurate to say that. I do not want to say that, but I want to show you that the doctrine itself is compatible with modernism in what is–at least to me–a very frightening way.
I. The Belief of the Postmillennialist
First of all, in as brief a way as I know how: What is the belief of the postmillennialist? It is thought by some that postmillennialists are just gone forever, that they gave way to other views and no longer really exist. In fact, I was reading in a book I believe this last week, which said, With the passing of the second World War, that the Postmillennialists simply went out of style. That was not the word he used, but he stated that they were gone because the evidences of the condition of the world, that were shown by the war in such things as the holocaust, were too great for the postmillennialists to live with.
Well, of course, an easy argument that would not even have to come from the Bible might be, that if that could do away with the doctrine, the forgetting of that could bring it back. And it would eventually be forgotten. You understand that or course. Those things are forgotten in time. but the fact of the matter is that the postmillennialist is not gone. It has been said that he has given over to the amillennialists.
The fact is, that the postmillennialist essentially came out of the amillennialist’s camp because of inconsistencies that he saw there. Many of them have returned. In fact, most of them returned to the amillennial camp because of problems that they saw with the postmillenial view, and they will return to the postmillennial camp as they view once again problems with the amillennial view. They will vacillate, because the scripture produces too many problems for them, in my opinion at least, and, of course, that must be right. Amen? Come on, say something! If nobody says Amen, I had better go on to the next page.
In any event, in my opinion the scripture will produce so many problems, for the amillennialist and the postmillennialist if they take it seriously, it will produce so many problems for him that he will vacillate from one side to the other, or he will come to premillennialism. Not too many of them do that, I am sad to say, but some do. The fact of the matter is, however, that there are always going to be postmillennialists until the Lord comes back; and then, of course, there won’t be any. "Postmillennialism" simply means "after the millennium." That is, they believe that the thousand-year-reign, or the millennium, will come into being before the Lord returns. Not all postmillennialists hold to the literality of the thousand-year-reign... some of them do.
There are differences among them, as well as among ‘premillennialists’ and ‘amillennialists.’ But if they believe in the literal return of Christ, they believe it will transpire after the millennial Kingdom passes. Their position, as it relates to cause and effect, is essentially in this order. The Holy Ghost by, or through, the church is converting the world. They believe that there are crisis in this Kingdom work; they believe that there are setbacks, but they believe essentially, and they have believed since the inception of that view of eschatology, that the Holy Ghost will, through the work of the church, and that Christ through the work of the church, will convert the world.
And with almost total agreement they would state it or believe it this way, that Christ in the NON-FORESEEABLE FUTURE–not in the foreseeable future–no postmillennialist that I know anything about would tell you now, or would have told you at any given time in history if you could go back (now, there are some who wrote that in forty or fifty years the world might be converted) but none of them would say that in the very near future, especially they would not say that Christ would return in the very near future, and especially they would not say the return of Christ was imminent, or that in the immediate future He might return.
To them it is in the UNFORESEEABLE FUTURE that Christ will return to a world, that is essentially prepared and ready for Him. The postmillennialists are basically divided into two groups. And I want you to get the word ‘basically,’ when i say there are differences of opinion, and I say they are basically divided this way. When I say there are groups and they are basically divided this way, be sure to hang onto the word ‘basically.’ You are going to meet one day with a postmillennialist or an amillennialist who says, What Forrest Keener said is not true. That is not what I believe. You have got to remember that no matter what kind of division of doctrine you take, there are going to be divisions within the division. And so it is here: there are divisions within the postmillennialists, and there are divisions within their divisions. but they are basically divided this way:
First of all, there are those who have a Unitarian philosophy. I do not mean that all of them would be members of a ‘Unitarian’ church, if there could be any such thing–there could not be, but if there could. I do not mean that is what they are, but I mean that they basically have that philosophy of man that has inherent good prevailing in the world. The man who was the propagator of the postmillennialist view, as far as I can understand, at least as far as any widespread acceptance of it, was man by the name of Daniel Whitby. He was a man who was Unitarian in his... should I say his theological view of man. He believed in the inherent good of man, he believed that there was a spark of divinity in man, and he believed, as some believe, that truth will out. He believed that truth will triumph. I want to show you something.
Does anybody know where the song "I’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations" is in our hymnal? I intended to jot is down in my notes, I thought I had, and I think I haven’t. Does anybody know the number of that song? I believe it starts out with the word ‘I’, if you want to look for it. Number 188? I want you, if you will, to just listen to the words of this song and you can get my point. Now, you say, Why, we sing that song! Sure, we sing that song, it is a good song, but it is very definitely postmillennial. If you want the view of the postmillennialist listen to the words of this song:
"We’ve a story to tell to the nations
That shall turn their hearts to the right
A story of truth and sweetness,
A story of peace and light,
A story of peace and light,
For the darkness shall turn to dawning, And dawning to noonday bright,
And Christ’s great Kingdom shall come on earth,
The Kingdom of love and light."
I will come back to that chorus, but listen to the other words of the verses:
"We’ve a song to be sung to the nations
That shall lift their hearts to the Lord,
A song that shall conquer evil
And shatter the spear and sword,
And shatter the spear and sword,
We’ve a message to give to the nations
That the Lord Who reigneth above
Hath sent us His Son to save us
And show us that God is love,
And show us that God is love,
We’ve a Savior to show to the nations,
Who the path of sorrow hath trod,
That all of the world’s great people
Might come to the truth of God,
Might come to the truth of God."
Now listen to the chorus, and it simply in essence summarizes all that the verses have said:
"For the darkness shall turn to dawning,
And dawning to noonday bright,
And Christ’s great Kingdom shall come on earth,
The Kingdom of love and light."
When we talk about the darkness turning to dawning, and dawning to noonday bright, are we talking about a radical, an immediate, a militant entrance of the Kingdom? No, we are not! We are talking about a gradual evolving entrance of the Kingdom. And how is the song implying that the Kingdom is to be brought to pass? By this story being told to the nations! Is there any truth in that song? Yes, there is! There is a lot of truth in it! But the total view of it is not right,–it is the postmillennial view.
They believe that the world is going to be converted. Some of them believe that it will simply be by the inherent good that is in man prevailing through the good teaching that the Word of God would give them. There are others who are not that modernistic or Unitarian in their thinking, and some men that are very able Bible writers have been postmillennialists, who have a different view than those, and they are those who interpret the scripture as teaching Christ’s victory over the world. Does the scripture teach Christ’s victory over the world? Yes, it does! How then are they in error? Well, as far as I am concerned they are in error in that they teach through the efforts of the church.
II. The Scriptures They Use
What then, are the scriptures that they use? And really we could name many, many scriptures because they use many, but I want to just give you a few that are typical of the interpretation, I think they would give you. Typical may not even be a good word to use here, but they will give you an idea of the manner in which they interpret these scriptures. Consider the text that I read tonight: "Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened." (Matt. 13:33)
Most places in your Bible where you find the word ‘leaven’ used, it will be almost universally agreed by commentators that it has reference to sin. But the typical postmillennial commentator will almost with one consent give this word ‘leaven’ a different symbolism. It will be a symbolism of either the gospel or the church,–either one is okay by him. in other words, the gospel is placed into the world, and by the force of the gospel, that is, the story being told to the nations, the world will be converted to Christ.
Or to put it another way, the church is placed into the world, and by the efforts and the Godgiven success of the church the world will be basically converted. These men are not all modernists. Many of them would say that the church could do nothing except it is by the power of God. They would agree one hundred percent with what Christ said, ‘Without me you can do nothing;’ they would agree with that. But they believe that the scriptures reveal that the purpose of God is to, through His church, convert the world to Himself, and make the world ready for Christ’s return.
Now, that is the basic principle of the postmillennialist’s view,–I do not have time to talk about all of the different ideas that they would have, but I think that gives you a bird’s-eye-view of what the postmillennialist believes. The scriptures that he uses are like Matthew 13:33, that I have just read. Another one would be I Corinthians 15:22 through 28, and we might quickly take a look at that. I Corinthians 15, and begin to read with verse 23:
"But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. 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."
Both the postmillennialists and the amillennialists will take this passage of scripture and use it in such a way so as to indicate that today Christ is subjecting the world to Himself, and that the ultimate fulfillment, which we do indeed see in this passage, when all things shall be put under His feet, is coming about by what is taking place today. They take the context of I Corinthians 15 and make it seem very logical to their adherents. They do not come to this conclusion without scripture, but they come to it, in my opinion, by very clear and definite misuse of scripture. Would you believe that one of their favorite passages is Matthew chapter 28, verses 18 through 20:
"... All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you..."
He says, I have sent you, I have the power to make you successful, go and teach all NATIONS, baptizing them, etc. Now, that is a pretty good argument, isn’t it? You take that and follow it through, and you listen to it in their view and in their light, and this is the conclusion. If He is all-powerful and He sent us to teach all nations,–when are all nations taught? When they have learned. When will all nations be taught? When they obey, for He said, Teach them to observe. You see, it comes out sounding pretty good, especially if it is all you hear on the subject. Now in many of these areas they will join hands with the a-mills, and there will be the crossing back and forth. They see a present and progressive existence of the Kingdom of God, and they also spiritualize, so far as I can tell, with one consent, all that pertains to Israel.
Now, once again, there will be variations among the a-mills and there will be variations among the post-mills,–but they would with one consent spiritualize most of the promises of God to Israel, and apply them to the church in our day. I have generally thought and observed that the doctrine of a universal church and the doctrine of amillennialism HAD to go hand in hand, however, I have observed some men in the last few years who hold the amillennial position of eschatology who seem, at least on the surface, to hold a solid position concerning the church,–that is a local definition. I cannot see any unity in that, but with one consent they basically both will spiritualize the promises made to Israel.
So the postmillennialists, many of them, are men who very definitely believe what they believe because that is the way they interpret the scripture. So don’t get the idea that all postmillennialists are people who believe that the world is getting better and better, and because they believe in the inherent good in man, that they are post-mill. Many of them hold to their position because it is their interpretation of the scripture. I do not say they have a right to it, I just say it is theirs.
III. The Problems with this View
Thirdly, what are the problems that the postmillennialists have? What are the inconsistencies with their interpretation? What may we cite as evidences that they are wrong–and I think they are. You say, Bro. Keener, do you think they just might possibly be right? No! No, I don’t! I make no apology. As far as I am concerned they are clearly wrong. What are the problems that they have as far as any continuity in their doctrine?
First of all, in my opinion once again: they have a problem with all of the scriptures that teach a progressive apostasy upon the earth. We read a moment ago from the book of II Timothy an account, a statement, by Paul that indicated that the world would not get better and better, but that the world would grow progressively more evil. We see that today in evidence, but the Bible very clearly teaches it. Furthermore, they have problems with all of the scriptural examples of God calling out only a comparatively few. Now listen to me!
The Bible reveals God calling a few out of the multitudes. But the postmill sees God calling out the multitudes! There are a lot of problems among pre-mills in that area today, but what I am saying is this: premillennialism basically holds to–and MUST hold to if they are at all consistent–the idea that God will call out a remnant, that God will call out of a condemned world a people for Himself, which is not a majority, but a minority, which is not the main body of humanity but a remnant, whereas the postmillennial doctrine with one consent must hold to the philosophy that God will eventually convert the masses, that the world will be converted. Is that not what the song said? That is EXACTLY what their philosophy will have to be, and it is a real problem, because if I read my Bible rightly, it NEVER implies that!
Now, I’ll tell you something: it is awfully good psychology to get a church on fire and to get them going. In its prime this doctrine was one of the great battle cries. And did you know that it is being heard again today? Philosophically first, and then doctrinally. History from the time of Christ’s first coming certainly does not indicate a percentage of gain, does it? Are a greater percentage of people converted to Christ today than they were then? And I would say to you that if you would go back to the time of Saul of Tarsus, that a much larger percentage of the earth’s population was truly christianized then than today. There is no question in my mind about that. In many cases this philosophy, not the doctrine, but the philosophy permeates and frustrates premillennialists. I have seen some young men–and I suppose some older ones–that just became very frustrated because they said, Hey, brothers, we are losing ground! People are being born into the world faster than we are converting them! Have you ever heard something like that?
The earth’s population is increasing much faster than Christianity is increasing. Well, with very few exceptions in time this always has been true. I do not mean that we should not be concerned about the fact that the gospel is not reaching every tent and every hut in the world,–we ought to be concerned about that, and we should be concerned about the implications and the ramifications of it.
But if it frustrates us that percentages are not on our side, then we have accepted the philosophy of the postmillennialists, and we are going to be frustrated about a lot of other areas of our work. What is happening, they say, we are losing ground! Let’s get a good, practical program, where ‘everyone wins one’–did you ever hear anything like that? Let’s institute a program in which we get everybody in this church to go out and win one, and we get everyone that they win to go out and win one–what do they say: the earth will be converted to Christ in a certain length of time? Listen, I have heard strong fundamentalists, I have heard firm premillennialists say that very thing.
They do not realize it, but they are embracing the postmillennialist’s philosophy. Now there is nothing wrong with their zeal in getting people to go out and win people, but I have news for you: if they could get everyone to win ten, they are not going to convert the world to Christ UNLESS THIS BOOK IS WRONG! Because this book says it cannot be,– that when Christ come back He is going to find a world that is arrayed against him, and not a world that is ready to meet Him. That is where the postmillennialists run into trouble! Listen to me, beloved! He is looking for what HE thinks ought to be, and not what the Bible says shall be. I am not being a fatalist,–please do not think I am in that group, but I am saying, We had better look at the Bible and see what the Bible has to say.
IV. POSTMILLENIALISM IS COMPATIBLE WITH MODERNISM
Then in closing, let me say that the doctrine–perhaps I should say the philosophy–of postmillennialism (and I do not know that I can really separate them) is indeed compatible with modernism. That is not to say that all posmillennialists have been modernists. That would not be true. It would not be kind, it would not be accurate, it would not be charitable, but above all it would not be true to say that. What I am saying is this, that the doctrine itself becomes compatible with modernism in that it takes the direction of reasoning which is humanitarian and not biblical. Do you follow what I am talking about? Let me give you an illustration: Back in the early years of my ministry I did contract work.
When I first began to pastor the church here, I worked for the first few years in contract floor covering. I was working in a lady’s home one day and I was talking to her about the Lord. She told me that she went to a Presbyterian church here in the city, and she seemed like a nice lady. She lived just a short distance from where I live now, and went to the little church right at the corner that burned down a few years ago. She seemed like a very decent person, and she was a person who was somewhat frustrated by what she was seeing compared to what she had been taught.
Now, if I would have said to her, Are you a premillennialist, or an amillennialist, or a postmillennialist, she would have said, Ahhh..., and I would have thought she was an amillennialist. But she really would not be saying amillennialist, she would be saying, Ahhh.. I do not have any idea what you are talking about? What are you talking about?
She did not know about that, but she was talking about the problems in the world, the problems in the churches, and so on, and then she said to me, Things ARE getting better... aren’t they? And I said, No, Ma'am, not as far as I know. And she said, Well, doesn’t the Bible teach that things will get better and better? And I said, Where? And she said, Why, that is what I have always been taught! Now, I am not going to get into that and say that all Presbyterians believe that, because they certainly do not. There would probably be more Baptists numerically who believe that than Presbyterians. But the point is that this lady had been given this idea, and she did not get it at the ladies’ swimming classes down at the YMCA, she got it at church.
And a lot of Baptists... and I will tell you something,–some that you folks would consider great Baptist writers, that are quoted and copied by ardent fundamentalists today, are men who were ardent postmillennialists. I am going to throw this comment in, I am not sure that it is the right place for it, but I am going to do it. In the days of J. Frank Norris who was a tremendous influence in fundamentalism back in the forties, he was in a great battle especially before the second World War with some of the great leaders among the Southern Baptist Convention over various issues of modernism, but one of the great issues he had with them was the issue of premillennialism as opposed to postmillennialism... he was a premillennialist.
At the same time he became great friends with T. T. Shields, who was at that time the pastor of a great church in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and the head of a great school there, but he and T. T. Shields broke fellowship over the fact that Shields was an amillennialist. All of these are men–and I won’t mention all of these men that Norris was fighting with in that day and time–but they are men who will be quoted, and copied, and eulogized by all of the fundamentalists of our day. So don’t you get the idea that this thing has always been one-sided down through the years. And don’t ever get the idea that all post-mills are modernist. But I say this, there is a compatibility here with modernism because of the philosophy that is inherent within it. Let me show you what I’m talking about:
If we believe that the earth must get better and better, then we MUST believe it somewhat on the basis of what we see, not just what we read in the scripture. We must see it somewhat borne out. Now, if the Bible very clearly taught that the earth would get better and better–no questions about it–then we might say, No matter what we see, no matter how much evil we see, we know that it is getting better and better. But it does not teach it that clearly,–in fact, it does not teach it at all.
There are, however, verses of scripture that could be INTERPRETED that way, and those verses coupled with a philosophy that believes that, could allow a person–I do not think it could lead him, but could allow him–to go on in that philosophical or religious direction. But what must that person come to believe? As time goes on he must believe that the world is not really as bad as it seems; that things are not as bad as they look, that darkness is not really as dark as it once was,–that at least day is dawning.
If that is true, then what about the rampant homosexuality, and promiscuity, and murder, and rape, and theft, and terrorism that we see in the world today? What must he say about that? And the fact of the matter is that over a period of time either he or his adherents must come to some measure of acceptance of the philosophy that everything is beautiful in its own way. Do you see what I am talking about? What will that lead to? You listen to me! It will lead essentially to the very philosophy that has fostered and has nurtured the new morality of our day. They are inseparable.
The philosophies are essentially inseparable, and though he may not start out doctrinally in a direction of modernism, he is going to have to go in that direction sooner or later, because he has to say this: If the church is progressing, then these apparent sinners within the church, these people in the church that seem to be so ungodly rather than godly,–if the church is progressing they must really be part of it, and if they are saved, then what they are doing must not be as comparatively evil as it seems to be. It presses them in that direction.
Now, to them the conservatives who criticize the world of today are non-progressive, narrow-minded, religious fanatics that cannot see good in anything except themselves. Do not be surprised if you get described that way. I hope you are not that way, I hope you do not have that self-righteous attitude, but they will think of ANYTHING being bad as far as you are concerned, if you are one of those narrow-minded people who cannot see spiritual progress in the world today.
For instance, one of the things that they would be harsher with you about than anything else today, would be any kind of an objection to religious ecumenicalism. Do you understand what I am saying to you? Why, you mean that you are against all of the religions getting together? Why, you must not believe in brotherly love! What kind of a kook are you? What kind of an intolerant dumbhead could you possibly be not to believe in THAT? And this doctrine basically has to lead in that direction. We have a biblical exhortation,–in fact, we have many of them, but one particular one–as to what we are supposed to do in this day and time. I want to call your attention to II Timothy, chapter 4, verses 1 through 5:
"I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine."
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry."
Beloved, listen, this world is not going to get better and better. It is not going to get ready for the Lord Jesus Christ. When the Lord comes back He is going to come to a world that has not been converted to Him! Hear me tonight: WE ARE NOT GOING TO CONVERT THE WORLD FOR CHRIST,–HE IS GOING TO CONQUER IT FOR US!! Got it?
The meek will NEVER conquer the earth, they will INHERIT the earth. There is a difference in Bible teaching and human philosophy. Do you see what I am talking about? And I want us to know tonight, even though this may seem like a mere philosophical or a shallow religious matter of opinion, it is related to some very, very serious issues of our philosophy, as to what the world is, as to what the church is, and as to how the Kingdom of God–that is the Kingdom in which Christ is going to reign upon the earth–is going to be brought in.
Let’s stand with heads bowed...