The Staunch Calvinist

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

...st’s Ascension and Second Coming. When He comes that will be the end of everything. The rapture, general resurrection and final judgment will take place, then God will usher in the World to Come. There are neither multiple resurrections nor multiple judgments. There are no 7 years of Great Tribulation. There are no two peoples of God, Israel and the Church. Rather, the Church is the Israel of God. The promises of restoration and blessing pertain not to the Fallen World, but to the World to Come. We do not believe that the Bible teaches a golden age on this Fallen Earth.

In paragraphs 2-3 there is a case for Amillennial eschatology and a critique of Premillennialism throughout the sections.


§1 The Intermediate State

  1. The bodies of men after death return to dust, and see corruption; but their souls, which neither die nor sleep, having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them. The souls of the righteous being then made perfect in holiness, are received into paradise, where they are with Christ, and behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies; and the souls of the wicked are cast into hell; where they remain in torment and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day; besides these two places, for souls separated from their bodies, the Scripture acknowledgeth none.
    1. Gen. 2:17; 3:19; Acts 13:36; Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:22[1]
    2. Gen. 2:7; James 2:26; Matt. 10:28; Eccles. 12:7
    3. Ps. 23:6; 1 Kings 8:27-49; Isa. 63:15; 66:1; Luke 23:43; Acts 1:9-11; 3:21; 2 Cor. 5:6-8; 12:2-4; Eph. 4:10; Phil. 1:21-23; Heb. 1:3,4:14-15; 6:20; 8:1; 9:24; 12:23; Rev. 6:9-11; 14:13; 20:4-6
    4. Luke 16:22-26; Acts 1:25; 1 Peter 3:19; 2 Peter 2:9

The bodies of men after death return to dust (Gen. 3:19), the original substance, but their souls...having an immortal subsistence (i.e., a state of existence)...neither die nor sleep and immediately return to God (Eccles. 12:7). Our bodily death is not the cessation of our life. When our bodies die, our souls immediately return to God Who gave them. There is no period between our physical death and our returning to God. After our last breath, we immediately return to God. There is no period of waiting or soul sleep. But this returning to God of our souls does not mean we remain with God. Only the souls of the righteous now having been made perfect...are received into paradise, where they are with Christ (Heb. 12:23; Phil. 1:21-23). What a blessing and a privilege to be with Christ for all eternity. The One Whom we love and adore and to behold His face is the greatest blessing which we can imagine. We will likewise behold the face of God in light and glory, no longer afraid or trembling at His sight or in fear of our lives because of His glory. The souls of the righteous await in heaven the redemption of their bodies (Rom. 8:23) at the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The souls of the wicked on the other hand are cast into hell where they are in torment and utter darkness and await the judgment of the great day (Luke 16:23; 2 Peter 2:9). The word “hell” in this context is not really accurate as Hell describes the place of torment after the resurrection, where the wicked are cast in body and soul. What would be more accurate here is to say that the souls of the wicked are cast into Hades as the rich man was (Luke 16:23). The wicked are reserved for a greater judgment in both body and soul on that great day in Hel...


Extensive review of Jonathan Menn's Biblical Eschatology

...hatology. He then proceeds to define the major hermeneutical issues which must be decided when thinking about eschatology. These are:

  • Do the second coming of Christ, the resurrection and judgment of all humanity, and the inauguration of the eternal kingdom, occur as aspects of one great event, or are they separated by a temporary messianic kingdom that lasts a thousand years?
  • Are we able to predict when any of the “end-time” events will occur by paying attention to the events transpiring in the Middle East or other geopolitical occurrences?
  • What is the role of the church in all of this?

The major eschatological positions (Premillennialism, postmillennialism and amillennialism) differ on the nature and timing of the kingdom in Revelation 20. He then proceeds to briefly lay out the eschatological positions and words which are often used.

Interpreting prophecy

Nature of Prophecy

In chapter 2, entitled “Interpreting Prophecy and Apocalyptic” he lays out the hermeneutics needed which will be used in interpreting prophecy. This is mainly directed against dispensational Premillennialism with its insistence on “consistent literal interpretation,” especially of prophecy. Before we a priori decide upon a “literal interpretation” of prophecy, we must first understand the nature of prophecy. The prophets primarily did two things: “(1) They warned God’s people of the consequences of disobedience to the Lord’s ways by oracles of judgment; and (2) They called God’s people back to faithfulness by oracles of salvation” (pp. 6-7). Their purpose was to change the behavior of people and call them to repentance rather than give them things interesting to think about or a map of the future. Their primary function was forth-telling rather than fore-telling. What makes prophecy difficult is the medium in which it was given to the prophets. They are sometimes given in a dream or visionary form. This means that such a prophecy must be interpreted in line with its literature, and not the same as Genesis or Exodus which is narrated history. The way that God talks to the prophets is said to be “in dark sayings” (Ps. 78:2; cf. Num. 12:6-8), which obviously does not mean that such a prophecy is clear on first sight. Prophecy, in comparison with didactic (teaching) or historical portion of the Bible, is less clear.

Contingency

Another important factor to keep in mind when dealing with prophecy is that, because it is concerned with the behavior of God’s people, it is therefore contingent. “God announced this principle of contingency in Jer 18:6–11; 26:12–13; 36:1–3; Ezek 18:1–32; 33:10–20” (p. 8). Sometimes this principle is explicitly stated (Menn adduces Jer 38:17–18; 42:7–17; Acts 27:21–44; Rom 11:17–24). Other times it is not stated though it is nonetheless conditional (Menn adduces Exod 32:9–14; Isa 38:1–5; Jonah 3:1—4:2; Matt 19:27–28. “In Matt 19:27–28 the promise by Jesus to the Twelve that they would judge the twelve tribes of Israel included Judas.”). This principle of contingency is also clearly seen in the preaching of Jonah to Nineveh which simply was “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (Jonah 3:4). There are no ifs or buts to be seen in Jo

...

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

...h King of Heaven:

Discovering the Master Key to the Great 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 Cori...


Review of Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology

....

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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Welcome To The Staunch Calvinist

...">Of Baptism And The Lord’s Supper
  • Of Baptism
  • Of The Lord’s Supper
  • Of The State Of Man After Death And Of The Resurrection Of The Dead (Intermediate State Hades, Sheol, Heaven; A Case for Amillennial Eschatology; critique of Premillennialism)
  • Of The Last Judgment (Endless punishment in Hell contra Annihilationism)
  • ...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 7: Of God's Covenant - Commentary

    ... rel="footnote"[2]

    Covenant Theology helps us to see the story of the whole Bible. Covenant Theology unites the people of God and their purpose. Covenant Theology believes that covenant is the framework by which the Bible is understood and which God has established to achieve His purpose with the world. Covenant Theology is opposed to Dispensationalism, which seeks to divide the people of God, their purpose and focuses on the discontinuity of the covenants (for Dispensationalism in connection with eschatology, see here). Dispensationalism teaches that redemptive history is divided by dispensations (times), while Covenant Theology believes that redemptive history is divided by covenants. In this chapter, I will try to lay out how I understand 1689 Baptist Covenant Theology and make a case for it from Holy Writ. I’ve been greatly helped by the following books and men:

    I don’t pretend to have an answer to every question or have all the details worked out, but Lord willing, I will update this commentary if I become persuaded of some things that I think are necessary to mention. It is a subject that has fascinated me and it’s a subject I want to learn more about. In this chapter, I will try to lay out all the major covenants of the Bible and see how they are fulfilled or still await fulfillment in Christ and His people. The covenants that I would like to deal with are the following:

    1. The Covenant of Redemption [§2] [here]
    2. The Covenant of Grace [§3] [here]
    3. The Covenant of Works [§1] [here]
    4. The Covenant with Noah (Noahic Covenant) [§3] [here]
    5. The Covenant with Abraham (Abrahamic Covenant) [§3] [here]
    6. The Covenant with Israel through Moses (Mosaic Covenant) [§3] [here]
    7. The Covenant with David (Davidic Covenant) [§3] [here]
    8. The Covenant with the church (New Covenant) [§3] [here]

    What Is A Covenant?

    Before going into the specific covenants, let us define what a covenant actually is. A covenant may simply be defined as: A commitment with divine sanctions. To add more input, it may be said this way:

    In the general sense, a covenant is simply a binding agreement or compact between two or more parties; in legal terms, it is a formal sealed agreement or contract.[3]

    Simply said, a covenant is the way that God communicates with man. It must be noted that the covenants made by God are made up by God—what I mean is that God doesn’t ask people’s opinion about what they think of the covenant, blessings, and curses. It is something imposed by God. It is a sovereign arrangement. This is seen in Nehemiah Coxe’s definition of Covenant, which is...

    “A declaration of his sovereign pleasure concerning the ben...


    The Early Church Fathers on Eschatology (especially the millennial question)

    This work is based on Dr. Charles E. Hill’s fine work entitled Regnum Caelorum: Patterns of Millennial Thought in Early Christianity. In it, he surveys eschatological thought in the first three centuries of the church. One focus of the study is the interesting observation of something common in all premillennialists (except one, Methodius of Olympus [c. 270-311]) that did not believe in the immediate entry of believers into heaven. Rather, believers and unbelievers were held in some subterranean place until the resurrection and the millennium. On the other hand, those who believed in an intermediate state in heaven, gave no indications of chiliasm (belief in an earthly millennium), but rather, some of them even give explicit evidence of non-chiliasm (i.e., amillennialism). What I’ve done here, is search for the fuller statements of the authors from the early church which are freely available in the Schaff sets on CCEL, and included citations of Dr. Hill from the book itself.

    I thought of sharing it on the internet for anyone interested in these issues. In reading these statements, you will find both the good and the bad of the exegesis of the ancient fathers.

    (For those not able to see the IFrame, here is the link.)