The Staunch Calvinist

"Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God." - Jonathan Edwards

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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 31: Of the State of Man after Death and Of the Resurrection of the Dead - Commentary

... a Millennium, but more importantly to my purpose here, death is said to be the last enemy (v. 26). Christ will reign until He destroys the last enemy, moreover, Christ’s reign is described to be hostile in that it is said to be a reign whose purpose is to “put all his enemies under his feet” (v. 25). When we go further in this chapter, in 1 Corinthians 15:50-57 Paul gives us a more detailed description of the coming of Christ and the Rapture. Verse 52 says, “the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed”: this is the Rapture which will happen just before the Millennium, according to Premillennialism, and after the Millennium according to A- and Postmillennialism. The dead saints will be raised and the living saints will be transformed and given a glorified body like their Lord’s. But then Paul goes on to say in vv. 54-56 that when “the perishable puts on the imperishable” the prophecy of Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14 will be fulfilled. The death of death is said to happen at the coming of Christ, at the Rapture. But this is not what Premillennialism teaches. The death of death in their eschatology happens after the Millennium. Death will exist in the Millennium according to their literal reading of Isaiah 65:20, though people will generally be able to live longer than today. But this is contrary to Paul’s clear teaching that “death is swallowed up in victory” at the coming of Christ and at the Rapture (which is the same as the Coming of Christ, not a separate event separated by 7 years!). Premillennialism has the death of death a thousand years after the Second Coming of Christ and the Rapture, contrary to the Apostle Paul.

These are some of the problems I see in Premillennialism.

Dispensational Premillennialism

Like Classic, Historic or Covenantal Premillennialism, Dispensationalism believes that Christ will come before the Millennium, but Dispensationalism differs significantly from Historic Premillennialism. For one, Dispensationalism prides itself in consistent literal interpretation, especially of prophecy. They reject that the Church is the fulfillment of Israel, as Covenant Theology teaches and Historic Premillennialism believes. They believe that Israel after the flesh is a separate people of God from the Church. The Church is a mystery and a “parenthesis” in God’s plan, the prophets of old did not foresee it. The original plan of God was to go on with Israel, but since they rejected the Lord Jesus, God went to get a people for Himself from the Gentiles, and then will turn back to His original people. The Church is known as the heavenly people of God, and Israel the earthly people of God.

Dispensationalism divides the history of the world in seven dispensations, i.e., periods of time:

  1. Innocence (Gen. 1-3),
  2. Conscience (Gen. 4-8),
  3. Human Government (Gen. 9-11),
  4. Promise (Gen. 12 – Ex. 19),
  5. Law (Ex. 20 – Christ),
  6. Grace (Resurrection of Christ – Rapture),
  7. Kingdom (Rev. 19-20).

Unlike covenant theologians, both Presbyterian and Reformed Baptist, Dispensationalists see history as divided in periods of time and see a great discontinuity between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. We 1689 Federalists also see discontinuity between the Old and New covenants, but also a great deal of continuity in the promises of God. Some of the older Dispensationalists taught that there were different ways of salvation in each of these dispensations, but the Dispensationalists of the present rejec...


Review of Dean Davis' The High King of Heaven on Amillennialism

...at End Time Debate

The subtitle indeed is a bold claim, saying that in this book we will discover “the master key” to the End Time debate. I believe we indeed do discover the master key to the End Time debate.

This book is nothing like the others that I’ve read on Amillennialism (Kingdom Come, The Bible and the Future, The Case for Amillennialism), it dares to go and try to interpret the difficult texts in support of premillennialism. It is anti-premillennial as well as, but in lesser tone against Postmillennialism. This is all done in a tone of brotherly love. I enjoyed that aspect of the interaction.

Amillennialism

This book lays out the classic view of Amillennialism which is Dean Davis[1] believes (as others also do) is the classic eschatology of Church History and the Reformation.

The word amillennialism means no millennium. However, amillennarians do not deny the existence of a millennium, only that it begins after the Parousia and that it will last for a literal thousand years. Instead, they teach that the thousand years of Revelation 20 symbolize the present Era of Proclamation, during which time Christ reigns with (the departed spirits of) his saints in heaven. Amillennarians are, then, “present-millennarians.” Pages 23-24

Basically, Amillennialism teaches that the Millennium of Revelation 20 started from the cross and will end at the Second Coming of our Lord, spanning over 2 millennia up till now and is thus to be interpreted symbolically, rather than literally. The Millennium is the Gospel Era, or as Dean likes to call it, the Era of Proclamation.

This is a simple chart laying out the Amillennial vision of Salvation History.

The Kingdom of God

One of the very ups of this book was the extensive study of the Kingdom of God in the New and Old Testaments. My understanding of the Kingdom of God was really expanded.

A Definition of the Kingdom of God

Dean Davis defines the Kingdom of God as:

In essence, the Kingdom of God is the direct reign of God the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit, over his redeemed creatures; creatures who have been rescued from every spiritual and physical enemy, and restored to every spiritual and physical friend that God planned for them in the beginning. Also, the Kingdom is the blessed realm that this redemptive reign creates, and over which it forever rules. Page 65.

This he does not merely assume, but ably goes to prove it from the Bible, here is a summary of his five points:

  1. The Kingdom is the direct reign of God the Father (Mt 6:10)
  2. The Kingdom is a sphere of wholeness and blessing (Mt 9:35; 10:7-8; 12:28)
  3. The Kingdom is mediated by the Son of God (John 5:19, 30; 6:38;  8:28; 12:49; 14:10)
  4. The Kingdom is effected by the Spirit of God (Mt 12:28; Acts 1:4-8)
  5. The Kingdom is a realm beneath a reign (Mt 13:41-42; Rev 11:15)

Thereby is indeed the definition that he gives is justified and satisfactory.

The Two-Staged Kingdom

Amillennarians see the Kingdom of God coming in two stages, separated by the Parousia of our Lord:

  1. The Kingdom of the Son (already, the present Era of Proclamation)
  2. The Kingdom of the Father (not yet, the future World/Age to Come)

Now, the terminology used here is not meant to give the idea that the Son has no share in the second stage of the Kingdom or that the Father has no share in the first, but rather is taken from 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 where we learn that at the Coming of our ...


Review of Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology

...not actually being a language sometimes.

I cannot say that now I'm fully a continuationist, but I can say that I see now more support for continuationism and weakness for cessationism.

The Doctrine of the Future

Part 7 of this Systematic Theology deals with the study of the last things, Eschatology.

Dr Grudem shows convincingly for me the support for the coming of Christ, the Final Judgment and Hell, the New Heavens and New Earth. With all these I agreed on most points, except the Millennium.

Dr. Grudem is a Classic Premillennial. He fairly represents the four major views today:

  1. Amillennialism
  2. Postmillennialism
  3. Classic Premillennialism
  4. Dispensational Premillennialsm

While he represents these views he argues against them and for Classic Premillennalism.

I remain an Amillennial.

Conclusion

If you don't have this book in your library, get it now! You will not be disappointed. I will go back to it.

I'm thankful for God's grace upon Dr Grudem's work and life and that he has produced such an excellent treatment of Christian doctrine faithful to the Holy Scriptures.

He has become an example for me and a hero of how I should handle the Holy Scriptures.

Footnotes

  1. ^ RC rightly says that everyone's a theologian ;)
  2. ^ Page 315.
  3. ^ Page 1050.
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