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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15


The Doctrine of Amillennialism

in the Light of the Scriptures

Baptist Challenge

As printed in the Plains Baptist Challenger, August 2014

Amillennialism is a comparatively new word. Its teachings have supplanted postmillennialism in many otherwise orthodox theological schools. The meaning of the word is no millennium. Amillennialists believe that there will be no thousand-year period of blessing and peace upon earth following the return of Christ. They see no golden age, no utopia in the future, but sudden destruction of the world at Christ's second coming.

 

But the Old Testament describes an age of peace, prosperity, healing, justice, righteousness and happiness, such as the world has never seen. This golden age is to be brought about by the presence of Christ and by His removal of the curse upon the earth, and by His rule with “a sceptre of righteousness." Isaiah 11:35, Zechariah chapter 14, and many other references, prove this. And the New Testament never nullifies these glorious promises; but it does refer to them many times.


In Revelation, chapter 20, the definite period of one thousand years mentioned six times. Surely premillennialists, who believe that millennium will begin at the coming of Christ, have an abundance of Scripture to maintain such a position.


Postmillennialism teaches that Christ will come at the close of the millennium; that the world will be converted by the gospel; and that, through the efforts of the churches, the kingdom of God will come on the earth. This theory has been explored and forsaken in most orthodox circles.


Amillennialism Based on Figurative Interpretation


The writer is convinced that amillennial belief cannot stand the acid test of the Scriptures. Where the amillennialists go astray is in their method of interpreting Bible prophecy. They contend that we must give a spiritualized interpretation of prophecy. Why?


The prophecies that have been fulfilled in times past have not been spiritually or figuratively fulfilled, but literally, just as they were written. For example: the prophecies concerning the captivity of Israel, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the birth, life and death of Christ, were literally fulfilled even to minute details. To be more specific, the very place of Christ's birth was prophesied (Micah 5:12), the manner of His birth was foretold (Isaiah 7:14), and the exact way in which He would die was depicted by the remarkable prophecies of Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53.


It is true that Jesus found only a few who believed that the prophecies concerning Himself would be literally fulfilled. But amillennialists are making the same error today. Should Christ come today He would chide many religious leaders for their unbelief, for God will fulfill to the letter every promise that He has made.

 

In writing about the beliefs of the amillennialists, we want to be perfectly fair. We respect and love our amillennial brethren, but believe their views are unscriptural, therefore untenable. We expect to answer with Scripture, not with scholarship. The writings of men are of value only as they are confirmed by the Scriptures. Scholarship was not Paul's highest appeal, and neither should it be ours. Scholarship was wrong when Jesus came the first time; it will be wrong regarding many issues when He comes again.


Amillennialists Say That the Church Is Israel


First, amillennial view is that the prophecies concerning Israel in the Old Testament apply either to the church in this gospel age or to believers in the eternal state. They say, "The church is Israel." Not one verse can be found in the entire Bible that substantiates this statement. A close study of the passages that speak of the Christian as a Jew or an Israelite will reveal that the writer is addressing Israelite believers, or is writing about them. The context of a verse cannot be ignored. The Bible does not teach that every believer is a Jew, but that every Jew who believes is a real Jew (Romans 2:28-29).


The church and Israel are differentiated in the New Testament (I Corinthians 10:32). When an Israelite is saved he becomes a Christian, when a Gentile is saved he becomes a Christian, but not an Israelite. The belief that the church is Israel causes its advocates to disbelieve that the nation of Israel will be restored to its own land with the Messiah as their King, as was prophesied. (Jeremiah 23:5-8; Zechariah 14; Isaiah 11)


The question was asked Jesus, "Wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" He did not reply that the prophecies concerning Israel would be fulfilled in the church age; but He did say, "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power" (Acts 1:6-7).


The Holy Spirit through Peter spoke these words: "When the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you; whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:19-21). This Scripture plainly teaches that the prophecies of the Old Testament concerning the restoration of Israel ("all things"), will be fulfilled at the second coming of Christ.


In Romans 11 God shows that Israel in part is blinded to Christ as Savior, and that now is "The times of the Gentiles." Then in verse 25 a great secret is revealed—that this blindness will only continue until the Gentile religious opportunity has ended. And then, "All Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer and shall turn ungodliness from Jacob: for this is my covenant with them, when I shall take away their sins" (Vs. 26-27).


There is one more reference to consider (Acts 13:14¬17). These verses give God's plan for this age and the millennial age:


(1) God is calling out from among the Gentiles a people for His name (the bride of Christ).


(2) After this Christ will return (vs. 15). He is not speaking of Christ's first coming, for He is returning to the earth that He previously visited (vs. 16).


(3) When He returns, David's tabernacle (dwelling place, or house, or kingdom) will be established (vs. 16; Luke 1:32-33). This is the restoration of the kingdom of Israel, and the millennium. (


4) The whole world will outwardly turn to Christ during the millennium (Vs. 17; Zechariah 14:16).


What Amillennialists Overlook


Second, the amillennialist believes that at the second coming of Christ there will be a cataclysmic destruction of the earth and that the saved and lost will, at that time, enter their eternal state. This view ignores in one statement an abundance of Scripture. One never reads that the earth will be destroyed simultaneously with Christ's coming. It will be destroyed during the "day of the Lord", which involves many judgments and a long period of time.


If you will read all Bible references on the "day of the Lord" you will understand that it refers to the time of the Great Tribulation, the judgment of the nations, the millennium, the white throne judgment, and finally, the destruction of the earth by fire.


The idea that at the coming of Christ the saved and lost will be ushered into their eternal state, does not harmonize the Scriptures. This view is arbitrarily propagated in the face of Bible facts contradicting it.


This view also logically demands a general resurrection. But Revelation, chapter 20, specifically mentions "the first resurrection", and shows that the second resurrection follows in its proper sequence one thousand years later. The status of the first resurrection group is given, and they are located on the earth for one thousand years with Christ (Revelation. 20; II Thessalonians 1:10). The second resurrection is not so called, but is signified by the plainest description possible. The time is following the one thousand years, and the group resurrected is consigned to the lake of fire.


In the light of Revelation, chapter 20, we may easily see the order of events outlined in I Corinthians 15:23-28:


(1) Christ the first fruits (resurrection of Christ).


(2) They that are Christ's at His coming (resurrection of the saints).


(3) He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet (the millennium).


(4) The last enemy that shall be destroyed is Death (the second resurrection (Revelation 20:12-13).


(5) Then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all (the eternal state) (Revelation 21-22).


The third belief of the amillennialists (many of them at least) is that the prophetic book of Revelation was written for the most part for the comfort of the first century Christians, and was fulfilled in the first and second century. The most apparent fallacy of this interpretation is that end-time events are interspersed throughout the book from chapter 6 and following. The amillennial interpreters recognize this difficulty but ignore or spiritualize it. The fact is, such events as are described in chapters 6 to 18 have never yet taken place.


Another difficulty with this third belief is the view that Revelation 6 to 18 has reference to the sufferings of the early church. But the church is not once mentioned. We understand all this Scripture to refer to the future. We belief that the church, as was John in his vision, will be in heaven at the time the judgments of God and man are heaped upon the cursed earth.


Finally, the "A-group" holds to the view that there is no relationship between the prophecy of Daniel and the Revelation. That these two prophetic books are similar, none will deny; but again they refuse to interpret Scripture in the light of Scripture. The Bible is a book of progressive revelation. The prophetic books of the Old Testament are essential to the understanding of the prophetic portions of the New Testament. Paul compared spiritual things with spiritual (I Corinthians 2:13). The New Testament writers confirmed their new revelation with Old Testament truth, or explained the absolute newness of it.

 

Amillennialism an Issue


Many ask, "Why make an issue of Amillennialism?" The answer is—the method of interpretation used in this teaching is unwarranted and dangerous. Suppose you interpret the Virgin Birth by the same process. You will have Christ born of a virtuous woman, but in an illegitimate way. You may interpret as you feel, if you are spiritualizing. Modernism—the denial of the Virgin Birth, the Deity of Christ, the Atonement, the Resurrection, and the Second Coming—is the fruit of liberal and figurative interpretation of the Scriptures.


The great need of Christians today is simply in believing that God means just what He says about Sin, Satan, Salvation, the Second Coming, Thousand year Reign, Heaven, Hell, and all other themes. We must not say what God has not said. We may safely quote the word of God, but we dare not deny it. We cannot go wrong if we use God's terminology.


We firmly believe that the moral and spiritual fiber of a Christian is weakened when he undertakes to explain away a mass of Scripture. Unbelief is the root of worldliness. The figurative interpretation of the Scriptures, formalism and worldliness tend to exist together.


ELB: This note is being made to clarify our position on the order of events taught in the Bible. [1] The rapture of the Saints at the Coming of Christ in air, I Thessalonians 4:15-18. [2] The Tribulation period of 7 years here on the earth, Revelation 4:1 to 19-21. [3] The 1000 year reign of Christ on the earth, Revelation 20.