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

...Davis, The High King of Heaven. p. 493. Words within square brackets are mine. ...

Extensive review of Jonathan Menn's Biblical Eschatology

...out 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 Jonah’s prophecy, but God clearly relented from the disaster which He intended to bring on Nineveh. Wh

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

...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 Lord, the Lord Jesus will deliver His Kingdom, His consummated Kingdom to God the Father and will be subjected to Him. Thus, seeing a difference between the present Kingdom of the Son (which is to be delivered up to the Father) and the coming Kingdom of the Father (which is the eternal World to Come). This terminology is also supported by Matthew 13:41-43.

The two-staged Kingdom is seen from Jesus’ own contrast of this present age and the age to come. Here is a table I made for myself:            ...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 32: Of the Last Judgment - Commentary

...e wicked are present both in body and soul (Matt. 10:28). In Mark 9:43, Hell is identified as “the unquenchable fire” (cf. Luke 3:17; Matt. 3:12). In other places, Hell is described although the name is not mentioned. John the Baptist said that Christ will burn the chaff “with unquenchable fire” (Matt. 3:12). It is said to be “the eternal fire” (Matt. 18:8; 25:41). Matthew 13:40 says that the “the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age.” The judgment of the wicked in Hell will take place at the end of the age and it will be by fire. Hell is described as “the fiery furnace” (Matt. 13:42, 50). In Revelation 20:15, Hell is called “the lake of fire.” It is described as a place in which the worm does not die (Mark 9:48). It is called “the outer darkness” (Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30) and “the gloom of utter darkness” (Jude 1:13). The wicked are said to be “tormented with fire and sulfur” (Rev. 14:10; 19:20); weeping and gnashing their teeth (Matt. 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 13:28); and they “suffer the punishment of eternal destruction” (2 Thess. 1:9). Basically, it is a place of torment where the wicked will be in (e.g., Rev. 21:8).

Some think that the way in which Scripture speaks of Hell, as fire and outer darkness, is meant to be taken in a metaphorical way. I’m not sure, it may be so, but there are basically two groups who do this. One is the group which believes that saying that fire is metaphorical does not imply that Hell will be better than the traditional picture of Hell, rather, the reality is much stronger than the image. In other words, Hell is more terrible than you can imagine. Even if the worst thing that you can imagine is being tormented in fire forever, well, Hell is worse! The other camp tries to remove the idea of eternal suffering in body and soul. It may well be that the pictures of fire are meant to be taken in a metaphorical way, but this will not make Hell “less” endurable, but it will only make it more terrifying.

Endless Punishment

Now the question before us is simply, “How long will the suffering in Hell go on?” Historic Christianity has answered that question with “forever” until recent times when attempts have been made to teach that the wicked will not suffer eternal torment, but will be annihilated. Forms of Annihilationism have existed from the post-Reformation period. Basically, the wicked will not suffer conscious torment for all eternity as historic Christianity has taught, but they will cease to exist either after death or after the Final Judgment. Does Scripture support such an idea? Does Scripture teach that the suffering of the unrighteous will be momentary and not everlasting? We must look at passages that speak about the duration of the torments of Hell. The following is an attempt to show that the Bible teaches the unending punishment of the wicked. I do not intend it to be a refutation of Annihilationism, but more a positive case for the unending nature of hell-torments.

Matthew 25:41, 46

Matthew 25:46 is a clear passage that is often brought up against Annihilationism or any doctrine which denies the unending punishment of the unrighteous in Hell. The passage reads:

And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

In this passage, we see the fate of the wicked and the fate of the righteous. Both are said to be eternal, but their conditions are totally opposite. One is said to be of life, the ot...