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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
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.
Eschatology is a word which, among other things, relates to the Kingdom of God and the final judgment. In the last message I dealt with the postmillennial view. They believe that Christ will come back after the millennium: post simply means after the millennium. The premillennial view is the view or the belief that Christ will come back before the millennium,–that is the subject upon which I will be speaking next Sunday night. Tonight I want to speak upon the subject of the amillennial view. I have previously given you a brief definition of that, but I will give you a little bit broader one in a moment. Right now I want to read these verses of scripture. Pay close attention as I do so. Romans chapter 9, verses 1 through 8:
"I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:"
I want you to notice that:
'My kinsmen according to the flesh.'
"Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed."
Now I expect you noticed something about last week's message, that is, that I did not read a premillennial verse of scripture, or a verse that is a favorite of the premillennialists, and then speak on the subject of postmillennialism. It isn't fair to do that; and I will try not to do it to the amillennialist either, but I will rather take the scriptures that they feel point particularly to their doctrine, or at least to their philosophy of doctrine, and deal with those scriptures. Another scripture of particular relationship to amillennialism–this would be on the negative side–would be Revelation chapter 20, and I will get back to the previous one in a moment. Revelation chapter 20, and verse number 1:
"And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea."
Now, frankly it would be a lot easier if I were bringing you five or six messages on the doctrine of amillennialism. It would be far more easily dealt with than trying to do it in one. The same thing is true of the doctrine of premillennialism,–I cannot say that I would have enough material and enough understanding of the postmillennial philosophy, although it is very akin to the amillennial philosophy, but I would not have enough on that view to deliver many messages, but it would be easier for me to inform you as to what amillennialism is, if I did it in five or six messages.
On the other hand it, to some extent, would defeat the purpose of the over-all series that I want to bring. I think it would lengthen it inordinately as far as the entire project is concerned. I repeat to you that the view that I have, or the audience that I have in mind for this series, is broader than just this congregation. These messages on tape and in print will be going to other young men and probably, if it works out like some of the other series that I have done this way, four or five years from now I will be wishing that I had put a great deal more study and more thought into the series, because usually they seem to get much wider distribution than I expect when I originally do them. I do not know if I want that to be the case here or not, I will just see what God works out. Nevertheless, I am only going to bring one message on amillennialism.
In the preceding message, in this message, and in the following one, I am dealing with the three basic views of eschatology. As I mentioned last week: postmillennialim. This week: amillennialism. Let me say that this view is very broadly, in fact, almost universally accepted by a wide cross section of Christendom. The amillennial view is almost universally accepted among all Catholics and Protestants. Now you say, Preacher, does that not include Baptists? Definitely not! If you now anything about church history, or church categorization, you know that Baptists are not Protestants. Protestants are those groups of people who in essence came out of the Catholic church in protest of something they felt was in error in the Catholic church, and yet essentially they still believed in the Holy Catholic Church or in the catholic concept of the church. All Protestants would essentially hold to that, and that is not slandering them,–they would readily admit that they do hold to the idea of the Holy Catholic Church, that is: a universal church concept, whereas true Baptists have never believed that.
You can go back as far as the 12th century and find in Catholic writings statements concerning Baptists and Anabaptists, where Catholics call them by name and decry their position, as standing against the universality of the church and the right of all Christians in that sense to baptize. That was a big issue then, as it is now. But basically all Catholics and all Protestants will hold to the doctrine (I say, basically; not without exception, but basically all of them will hold to the doctrine) of amillennialism.
May I say this: to the shame and disgrace of Baptists the theology of Protestantism has widely infiltrated Baptist ranks today because Baptists have been remiss and careless in the last two generations, and especially the last one. We have been so determined in areas of evangelism, that in reality we have potentially destroyed our own evangelism. In other words, we have essentially said, We are not really concerned about being sure that our young men are well-taught and well-versed, we want them to go out and do something! And that's good, there is nothing wrong with that. But the dangerous thing is this: The field that is subjected to wild fire over too long a period of time will eventually be destroyed by that fire. That is exactly what has happened in many cases, and because of that, the doctrines of Protestantism have grievously infiltrated Baptist ranks today.
Now all the scriptures necessary for discussion of this subject, if we were going to do it exhaustively, would be very numerous. If I were to show you all of the scriptures that are used by the postmillennialists, in particular discussion of their position, there would not be that many. But if I were to go to all of the scriptures that are dealt with by the amillennialists, they are tremendous in number. Never think that the amillennialist is remiss or careless in the use of his scripture,–he is not. You will lose the battle immediately if you imagine that he does not use much scripture. I do not say, that he has scripture to back up his argument, because I do not think it really does, but if you think he does not have scripture that he uses, if you think he just discounts the scripture and does not take it into account, then you are going to lose the battle with him. In fact, you will be embarrassed in a moment.
Let me say something else: Never imagine that all amillennialists are a bunch of shallow people that do not love God, and who have no conservatism and no biblical direction at all, because if you think that, one of these days you will run headlong into a fine Christian person who will be very, very appealing to you and very godly in his deportment, and suddenly you will find that he is an amillennialist. Then you will probably say, Hey, that preacher who told me that they were all bad people was wrong. Well, they are not! Get that out of your head! I am going to try to tell you the truth about it as well as I am able, but I want to do it in the right direction. As I said, the scriptures that they would use, would just be tremendous in number, but I really believe that the two that I have read will polarize amillennialism as opposed to premillennialism in that they pointedly address two basic philosophies of the amillennialist, that are contrary to the philosophies, or the doctrinal persuasion, of premillennialists.
That is the reason I have chosen these tonight. I do not say that they are the best I could have chosen, but I have chosen these two and I hope they will be helpful. Time obviously does not permit me to be exhaustive, even in dealing with these. I hope it will help me be direct so that you can understand where I am coming from. I hope to be fair. I hope to be kind. I hold no animosity toward any amillennialist, except the basic disapproval of that which I believe to be error in any area.
If I stood in the pulpit tonight, mad at all who are amillennialists or postmillennialists, calling them bad names, then certainly I would not be helping the cause of what I believe is the biblical revelation. I do not have animosity, except that I do have a standard disapproval for whatever I believe is error in any case. I know some men, whom I love, who are amillennialists, and I can sit down and eat with them, I can fellowship with them, and I can even call them 'brother' and believe that they are my brother, but I disagree very heartily with what they are teaching in this area.
I. The Definition of the Amillennial Position
First of all then, let me define the amillennial view. What are we talking about? And I could probably make at least twelve or fifteen basic statements of definition that would better define the amillennial view, and perhaps give you a little bit more insight into it and then spend the entire evening just defining those definitions, but I do not want to do that. I want to say four things tonight by way of definition. Of course, this is only one of four points, so there are four things that I want to say.
Number one: the amillennialist–now follow me, and I want you to hang on to the words, because if you do not listen to all of the words that I use here, you may misunderstand what I am saying. In other words, what you hear may not be what I say and you may hear something that is not fair and is not accurate. I do not want you to do that. I do not want to say anything that is not fair and not accurate if I can help it. If my ignorance does not force me to I don't want to do it, and I don't want you to hear something that I did not say.
First, the amillennialist does not believe in a literal theocratic reign upon the earth,–a thousand year reign upon the earth. What do I mean when I say a literal theocratic reign? I do not mean that he does not believe in the second coming of Christ, that would not be accurate. Some of them do not, but most of them do. But they do not believe that there will be a literal time, as we believe Revelation 20 describes, when Jesus Christ will reign as King Supreme upon this earth,–they do not believe that. They explain Revelation 20, but in explaining they explain it away.
Secondly, they deny any–now, please get these words carefully!–they deny any future restoration of the nation of Israel AS SUCH to any particular blessing. If you say to the average amillennialist, Do you believe that God will restore to Israel the Kingdom? they will say, Yes! So I want you to notice those words,–"national Israel" AS SUCH,– they don't believe that. They see this to be fulfilled in the church. In other words, they feel like the scripture I have read–and I will give you something of an explanation in a moment–but they believe that scripture is defining what the true Israel is. Now go back, if you will, quickly and let's notice that. Notice in chapter 9 of Romans, verse 6:
"Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are OF Israel."
What is Paul saying here? Well, he is saying, Not everybody who is the physical offspring of Abraham is the true Israel of God. Now that is what he is saying, you can't make anything less out of it. The amillennialist goes farther and believes that this is saying that what the true Israel is, is that group who are the saved, and they will then go on farther and say, the true church is the true Israel.
"Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but in Isaac shall thy seed be called."
And, of course, as you study the book of Galatians you will find that the definition of the seed of Isaac is those who are the children of faith. Do they have an argument? Yes, they do! It is wrong, but they have an argument, and they have scripture that they use to back it up. But the point is this, that is what they believe in that area, 'That is, they which are the children of the flesh these are not the children of God,'–it is not the true Israel! 'But the children of the promise are counted for the seed. For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son, etc.'
Now, the amillennialist believes that the promises to the nation of Israel, that are so common in you Bible, are fulfilled in the church. Again, not all of them would agree with every facet of that. In fact, some of them might say to me, Well, that is not exactly accurate, but if I condense it down, that is as accurate as I can make the statement in a nutshell. I am trying to condense it so do not expect me to be able to pick up every facet of the doctrine and put in that little nutshell,–I do not think it can be done... at least I cannot do it. Thirdly, they hold that essentially ALL Kingdom promises will be fulfilled in the inter-advent period.
What do I mean by that? I mean that they look in their Bibles and they find the promises, the prophetic promises, that deal with the Kingdom age, and they believe that any fulfillments that these scriptures are going to have (and many of those will be only spiritual fulfillments) will be between the first and second coming of Christ. In their opinion some of this will be fulfilled... in fact, some of them hold that basically all of it is fulfilled upon the earth.
As far as we can tell a man by the name of Augustine was the first basic promoter of amillennialism, at least the first well-known, broad promoter of the doctrine of amillennialism, and he held that these promises were fulfilled during the inter-advent period here upon the earth. One of the most prolific writers of our time, an eminent Presbyterian by the name of B. B. Warfield, and incidentally, a good writer in a lot of areas, holds that those would be fulfilled in the saints in heaven. There is a basic disagreement between what Warfield held and what Augustine held, but nevertheless, they believe that those promises are fulfilled during that inter-advent period. So we have something of the definition of the amillennial view.
Quickly, let me restate it in summary: They do not believe in a literal theocratic reign of Christ for a thousand years upon the earth. They deny any future restoration of the nation of Israel AS SUCH to a place of particular blessing, and they hold that essentially all Kingdom promises are fulfilled between the advents. And I said a moment ago that... We have those basic principles there, and I think I told you four, but three basic points with those sub-points under them.
II. What Is the Amillennial Approach to Scripture
Secondly, What is their approach to the scripture? Once again there will be some variation. You cannot take any of these,–not a premillennialist, not a postmillennialist, not an amillennialist,–and say with one consent: This is the way they do things, and this is the way they interpret scripture, and this is what they believe, because they will not have that kind of unity. But the amils will be no less profuse in the use of scripture that the premils will be.
In other words, you are not going to be talking to someone who has no knowledge of what is written in this book,–don't get the idea that you are. Often because we associate some of these doctrines with modernists who do not believe the Bible at all, and do not bother to quote it one way or the other, we have the tendency just to take it all and to lump it over into that.
For instance, if we deal with somebody who believes in infant baptism you say, Well, they could not find it in the Bible and therefore they do not believe the Bible, and therefore we do not have to worry about arguing scripture with them. Well, you are wrong! In many instances they think they have found it in the Bible and you can find yourself in a real tight place if you go against one of them, not thinking that they can argue it from scripture, because they will, and they will put you to shame if you do not know where they are coming from. So it is with the amillennialist,–he will have a tremendous amount of use for scripture.
Listen to what I am saying here as carefully as you can, and I hope it does not sound unkind: Because of the tremendous amount of scripture he uses, he will try to present, or to promote, his teaching as being a positive one, that is, as being an exegesis of scripture, and an exposition of something that the Bible teaches. Again, I do not want to be unkind but I want to say this as honestly as I know how: That is not what he is doing! Now, whereas there may be some students of amillennialism who will be attempting to do that, the amillennialist as such is not in any sense promoting a positive doctrine,–what it is, is a highly refined and a highly explained denial of millennialism. Now, that is not unfair.
Amillennialism means no millennium. He is denying what is referred to as Chiliasm. That simply means that we believe in a thousand-year reign upon the earth. He does not believe in a thousand-year earthly reign. Now, he used many scriptures to–well, what should I say–he takes many of the scriptures that we use to prove it, and tries to explain them away, and he takes many other scriptures that we do not necessarily associate with that as such, and uses them to disprove the doctrine.
It is in that area that he attempts to make his teaching seem like a positive one. But in reality it is negative all the way, because the real purpose of it, and so far as I can see the only purpose of it, is really to deny the millennial position. I say this for this reason, that when he gets all through you sit down and list–now follow what I am saying to you–you sit down and list all of the Kingdom promises that he has shown you that would be exceeding great and precious promises–do you follow me?–and you will be as barren as a post oak tree the first of January.
What I am saying is, he does not present the Kingdom promises as being great and precious promises, but he rather presents them as being only something that needs to be explained, and in all fairness I think explained away, because it is there in the Bible and he simply is setting out from a negative standpoint to show you how it does not mean what you–if you are a premillennialist–think it means. But what wonderful and blessed thing does it mean?
For instance, Rev. 20,–he will assure you, and if you are not pretty well grounded he will give you an awfully good argument, that it does not mean what the premillennial thinks it means. But what does it mean? What is there in Revelation 20 that would cause my heart to rejoice if I were an amillennialist, and the answer will be: absolutely nothing. It well really come out to neutralize that scripture rather than focusing upon some great or greater truth. To me, if I use a scripture to tear down someone's teaching, then there ought to be some sense, if I take my time and work with it, in which that scripture will show us a greater teaching.
For instance, those who believe that 1 Cor. 12 and verse 13, "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body" and so on, those who believe that is the Holy Spirit baptizing a man into the "Universal Body of Christ" at the time of salvation are wrong! But why simply explain away, and show them the error in their usage of that verse of scripture? I can show them a much greater blessing that scripture holds for them in its proper interpretation. Now, that should be a basic principle of explaining scripture. You search for this as the amillennialist deals with Rev. 20, and you will find that he does not leave you with anything. What it will really leave you with if you believe him, would be the idea that you don't really need Rev. 20 in your Bible,–it does not do anything for you–though he will deal with it, it does not do anything for you.
In other words I am saying this, that if you would take all of the Kingdom prophecies and all of the Kingdom promises out of the Bible,–take them all out and throw them away, that it basically would not change anything about the philosophy, or the ministry, or the manner of life, of the amillennialist. He explains them away. He does it very skillfully sometimes, but he simply does not believe in the millennium, and therefore those promises that point to it. He just sets them in the background and explains them away. Now, you may be told by these men–and you often will be–that the real issue is hermeneutics. That is, the method by which we interpret scripture; and that is a very good smoke screen.
Not all premillennialists would agree with me that it is a smoke screen,–some of them would say, Yes, that is an accurate statement. I do not believe so. Even though there is a difference in hermeneutics or in the method of interpreting scripture, I do not believe that is the real issue. This is what they say. They say the premillennialist takes the Old Testament scriptures concerning prophecy and he uses them to explain New Testament prophecies, and he thus literalizes a lot of the Old Testament prophecies and many of the New Testament prophecies that should be spiritualized. He will claim that if he used the New Testament to explain the Old then he would never do that,–he would spiritualize those prophecies. That's his basic premise. If I'm able to bring it to you, that's what he is essentially saying.
There are two things wrong with that: number one, that is never done consistently. All premillennialists spiritualize both some Old and New Testament scriptures, and all amillennialists spiritualize both some Old and New Testament scriptures. The question is not, do they spiritualize or literalize, the question is which of the scriptures do they spiritualize or literalize. The question is: which of the scriptures... So it is not really hermeneutics but it is which scripture.
Secondly, let me say that the amillennialist is not consistent in the biblical use of this principle. Now listen to what I said. He will say to you, You cannot literalize those Old Testament prophecies, for instance such as Zechariah 14:4 and 5, and Isaiah chapter 2–you must not literalize them because if you come to the New Testament and let the New Testament shed light on those Old Testament scriptures, they will show you that they must not be literalized, they must be spiritualized. Now... while it is true that there are many Old Testament prophecies that have spiritual meaning and spiritual teaching, which truth will be brought out in the New Testament, many of those which had spiritual meaning there, point to a literal fulfillment in the New Testament. But be that as it may, the amillennialist as a whole will never follow his own rule.
Let me show you a classic example of how he violates it. I said earlier that essentially all Catholics and Protestants were amillennialists, and that is true,–not all, but essentially all. At the same time, all Catholics and Protestants believe in infant baptism. Not all of them, but essentially all. Now, how do you take your New Testament and justify infant baptism? And the answer is: You cannot possibly do it, and every single one of them will agree with you that you cannot justify it from your New Testament. How then do they justify it? Well, essentially, at least in the Protestant field, they are called and it would be true though they might not categorize it as such in Catholicism, but they are Covenant Theologians.
That is–if I use that term I want you to know what it means because it is used widely and with more than one definition–but that is they believe that if you are saved and your wife is saved, that there is a sense in which your children are holy–and there is a sense, but this is not, it–but they say your children are holy and thus they baptized them in infancy as it relates itself to that covenant theology. But where do they get that principle?
They get it from the Old Testament principle of circumcision of the children. What I am saying is this–and I do not have time to go into all of this since it is not my message–but I am simply saying that they violate the basic principle that they claim they always follow in eschatology. They do not always follow it either in eschatology, or in soteriology, or any place else, nor do we. I am not saying we are always doing it right. Anybody who thinks they have all of the understandings of the interpretation of prophecy, just haven't been studying long enough. There are some difficult areas there. We need to realize that, but the point is this, their approach to scripture not only in my opinion is a wrong approach, but it is certainly an inconsistent approach. We are not just talking about which rule do we use to interpret the Bible,–that is not what we are talking about. Get that out of your mind.
III. The Biblical Problems with Amillennialism
Thirdly, what are the biblical problems with this position called amillennialism? I want to give you here four things. The first one is that, no matter which one of them you want to quote, their interpretation does not give fulfillment to the promises with which they deal. You are going to learn in the process of dealing with Bible prophecy that there is a principle which might be called recurring or progressive fulfillment! I have taught you that before, I have talked to you about it,–in other words, once you see a prophecy fulfilled don't imagine that it has never been fulfilled before, or that it will never be fulfilled again, because there is a biblical principle of recurring fulfillment.
But when you look at it as a whole, there must be ultimate fulfillment. In other words, we do not take something that is a partial or simple fulfillment and say, Well, here it is! That is it! And the amillennial interpretation does not fulfill the prophecies with which it deals. I could give you, if I wanted to take the time, at least forty or fifty different ones that they do not fulfill, but I am going to give you just five right quickly.
First of all, the giving of the land that was known as Israel in days gone by to Abraham's seed. In your Bibles in Genesis, chapter 13 and verse 14:
"And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered."
Now I ask you, Does this have something to do with those who will later be saved? Yes, it does! It would be foolish if I said, That is talking exclusively and only about national Israel. But may I take this and apply it only to those who are going to be saved, and I answer you, No, I may not! For He says, See the land. See the land, I will give it to you and to your seed forever. Has that prophecy yet been fulfilled? And I answer you, No, it has not! I do not care how far afield you may go in interpretation, or how broad and how spiritualizing you may become in it, you cannot say that scripture has been totally fulfilled.
Another one, and I think a classic one, would be a Kingdom of peace upon the earth, Isaiah chapter 2 and verse 4:
"And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."
Find a fulfillment for that! Spiritualized as you will,–beloved, when you give that any other than a millennial meaning you have not explained it, you have explained it away! I believe it means what it says. There will come a time when there will be peace upon this earth and nation will not lift up sword against nation, and that is not going to be fulfilled in heaven,–it is going to be fulfilled here upon this earth! And it is not going to be fulfilled during the inter-advent period unless something very drastically different from what we see happening, or what we find prophesied in our Bible takes place. It is a promise for a Kingdom that is yet to come, and it is a Kingdom upon this earth.
Thirdly, their interpretation of the scriptures concerning the earth's nations becoming Christ's kingdom: Revelation chapter 11, verse 15. As I said, I could give you thirty of these scriptures as easily or fifty, I think, but I am just going to give you five. But I want you to notice these five. I am trying to give you some that I think are as easily understood as possible. Revelation chapter 11, begin with verse 14 and read verses 14 and 15:
"The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly. And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever."
Now, I realize that we have the element of the Kingdom going beyond the thousand years here, and it will! He will reign a thousand years, but His Kingdom will not come to an end! His Kingdom will undergo a change at that point and will go on and on, forever and forever. His Kingdom is alive today; it will go into that millennial period and it will go out of that millennial period, continuing. But the point is this, that here He says that the kingdoms of the world are become His Kingdom. Has that happened? It has not happened! And no amillennial interpretation of this scripture that I know anything about gives fulfillment. I am not saying they can not give you a logical interpretation because in many instances they can. I am not saying they cannot give you a satisfactory one, but I am saying that it will not be a fulfillment of this scripture.
Fourthly, the binding of Satan: Rev. 20 and verse 2. You may turn to Revelation chapter 20. My, time is flying! I had no idea how late it was! For the sake of time, let's not turn there. You know what it is saying, I have read it to you. He says that he saw an angel with a great chain in his hand, and he bound Satan and cast him into the bottomless pit. I would not argue the little points here. They would say, "Well, do you think that this chain is a literal chain?
A literal chain could not bind a spirit. I understand that! I understand that we have symbolism within this passage. But let us allow any interpretation, that Satan should be bound in some way, as confining his power, so that he should deceive the nations no more, and I ask you, has that happened? You know it has not! The amillennialist essentially has always taught that that happened at the first advent of Christ. It has not happened! The deceitfulness of the devil is not only as real in the earth today as it ever was, but the Bible teaches us that throughout this inter-advent period it is continually going to be. There are people who are going to be taken captive of Satan at his will. Their interpretation does not explain the verse.
Then quickly, for a last one, The correspondent reign of Christ and His saints: Revelation chapter 20 and verse 4:
"... and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years."
Now you do whatever you want to with the thousand years, do whatever you want to with any of it, but I say to you tonight that I cannot see any way... I have read any number of these explanations,–and I cannot see any that gives any real interpretation, or that gives any real meaning to that passage, except the premillennial module–that Christ is going to come back, and He is going to reign a thousand years literally. You make it symbolic of anything else, and what you have made it is nothing,–you have taken everything away.
Now, I want to say this, that in every one of these cases their method of interpretation is really not exegetical at all! It is basically a principle of explaining it away. In reality–and this may not be kind, but I hope it's fair–they are doing with the doctrine of the millennium, or the thousand-year-reign on the earth exactly what the Jehovah's Witness attempts to do with the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and that is to deny it without really totally denying it. I cannot improve upon that and be fair to the message that I am trying to bring, though it is not my purpose to be unkind. They essentially apply, as I said, all of the future Kingdom promises to "the church" and this is a "many headed monster."
I have not seen yet one single person, who went in the direction of amillennialism, who in a relatively short time did not go on into universalism as far as his ecclesiology is concerned. I do not think it is possible for him to hold to amillennialism without eventually believing in universalism as far as ecclesiology is concerned. Now then, let me say this and I will move to the last and final point. They never hold, now follow me carefully, they never hold to the doctrine of the imminent return of Christ, the return of Christ, Yes; but never the doctrine of the imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ, and if I understand the scripture at all, it constantly, clearly teaches the imminent return of Christ.
IV. They Are Compatible with Modernism
In closing, let me make a statement concerning amillennialism and modernism. You will hear them grouped together. It is not unfair, but it is not always accurate. While all amils are not modernists, and they are not, there are some amillennialists who are very conservative people in other areas, but while all amillennialist are not modernists, so far as I can tell essentially all modernists are amillennialists. That would make me nervous if I were an amillennialist. Do you know what I am talking about?
In other words, if I say I believe something, and if somebody says, Well all the modernists believe that too, and as I investigate and I find that is true, that would make me nervous. Now that would not necessarily prove that it was wrong, but it would make me nervous. What I am saying is this, that it should give us some kind of a message about compatibility of the doctrines. Let me go a step farther and say that all amil denominations of the past have eventually gone into modernism. For instance, we could take the Methodists, as you look around today and you will find that the average Methodist church probably would not even let John Wesley in the door. They probably wouldn't. They are modernists to the core.
Look at John Calvin, who was an amillennialist, he started the Presbyterian church, now while there are some reformed Presbyterians today who would hold very close to many of Calvin's teachings, the average Presbyterian church that you know anything about would not let John Calvin have anything to do with them. I am not slandering them, you go ask the Presbyterians, most of them would ask, who is John Calvin? The average one does not know much about him. Now there are some who do, but the average one does not hold to his conservatism. They have moved very greatly into areas of modernism today.
I would that I could just stop there, but let me say something else. J. P. Boyce, an eminent Baptist in days gone by, a tremendous theologian, many of you young men have his books, I have given them to you. I don't apologized for that. I hope you have enough sense to use them rightly, and not believe everything that he said. I hope you can eat the grain and throw the husk away.
But the point is this, this man was probably a postmillennialist. Sometimes you will have a hard time by what they say deciding which one they were, but he certainly had no sympathy for premillennialism, he started the seminary for the Southern Baptist Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, which is the most liberal Baptist Seminary in the United States today. You will eventually and invariably find this moving in the direction of modernism. I do not know why, but it always does. I think one of the reasons is that the amil practice of arbitrary spiritualizing of scripture in the Bible is always a step in the direction that the modernist normally takes. That is simply spiritualizing that which he does not want to believe. He can do it in creation or any other area.
In conclusion, and I have to come to a close because I hope to get this on one tape, and I think I have already blown that hope and prayer, but I have to come to a conclusion. I simply want to exhort you in closing to remember that the Lord is coming. He is coming! It may be noon, it may be night, it may be morning, I do not know. The Lord is coming and He is not coming to accept what we have done in preparation for Him, but He is coming to establish His Kingdom by His own glorious and mighty power.
Let's watch and be ready.