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                         "THE TIME OF THE END"

                      Four Views Of The Millennium

INTRODUCTION

1. A precious hope of Christians is the return of Jesus Christ...
   a. Promised by angels when He ascended to heaven - Ac 1:9-11
   b. Proclaimed by His apostles in their writings - 1Th 4:16-18

2. Events in the Middle East often spark interest in Jesusí return...
   a. People wonder if the time of the end is near
   b. Some often affirm "yes!" with great certainty, only to be proven
      wrong

3. What can we know about "The Time Of The End"...?
   a. The Bible speaks of resurrections, a millennium, judgment, new
      heavens and new earth
   b. What does it reveal about the sequence of such events?
   c. Can we know when the time of the end is near?

4. Why even bother with such things...?
   a. To be aware of other views (especially when a popular view is
      proven wrong time and again)
   b. To avoid being misled by cults and others who use their views
      on prophecy to influence people

[A study of such things is called eschatology, from the Greek word
"eschatos" (last things).  The study is complicated by the diversity of
views surrounding it.  Here is a summary of four major views...]

I. DISPENSATIONAL PREMILLENNIALISM

   A. DISTINCTIVE FEATURES...
      1. The kingdom:  Jesus failed to establish it at His first coming,
         will succeed at His second
      2. The church:  views the church and Israel as two distinct
         identities with two individual redemptive plans
      3. The tribulation:  a seven-year period (the 70th week of Dan 9:
         25-27) containing the reign of the Anti-Christ just prior to
         the millennium; restoration of Jews to Israel, conversion of the
         remnant of Israel, temple rebuilt, priesthood, sacrifices
         restored
      4. The rapture:  the church (living and dead) is raptured to meet
         the Lord in the air either at the beginning (pre-trib), middle
         (mid-trib) or end (post-trib) of the seven years of tribulation;
         tribulation saints and O.T. dead will be raised at the end of
         the tribulation
      5. The millennium:  Christ will return at the end of the
         tribulation to institute a 1000 year rule from a holy city (the
         New Jerusalem); those who come to believe in Christ during the
         tribulation (including the 144,000 Jews) and survive will go on
         to populate the earth during this time; those who were raptured
         or raised previous to the tribulation period will reign with
         Christ over the millennial population
      6. Post-millennium:  Satan, bound during Christís earthly reign,
         will be loosed to deceive the nations, gather an army of the
         deceived, and take up to battle against the Lord; the battle
         will end in the judgment of the wicked and Satan, followed by
         entrance into the eternal state of glory by the righteous
      7. Major proponents: John Walvoord, Charles Ryrie, Louis Sperry
         Chafer, J. Dwight Pentecost, Norman Geisler, Charles Stanley,
         Chuck Smith, and Chuck Missler
      -- A visual synopsis of this view can be seen on the web here

   B. OBSERVATIONS...
      1. This view is highly popular today, mostly due to Hal Lindsey
         (The Late, Great Planet Earth), Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins
         (Left Behind series)
      2. A variation was taught among churches of Christ by R. H. Boll
      3. It is of recent origin, its distinctive elements first taught
         by John Nelson Darby (1830 A.D.)
      4. It views the church as either an after-thought or an unrevealed
         mystery in the OT
      5. It teaches a number of resurrections; at least two for the
         righteous and one for the wicked
      -- Requires a strictly literal interpretation of OT prophecy and
         the book of Revelation

[Most people think of dispensational premillennialism when they hear the
word 'premillennialism'; there is another form of premillennialism that
has been around a lot longer...]

II. HISTORICAL PREMILLENNIALISM

   A. DISTINCTIVE FEATURES...
      1. The kingdom of God:  present through the Spirit since
         Pentecost, to be experienced by sight during the millennium
         after Christís return
      2. The church:  the fulfillment of Israel (physical Israel has no
         distinctive redemptive plan)
      3. The tribulation:  a time of apostasy and suffering just before
         the millennium, ended by the battle of Armageddon and
         destruction of the Anti-Christ; many Jews converted at this
         time
      4. The rapture:  living and dead saints to meet the Lord in the
         clouds immediately preceding the millennium
      5. The millennium:  Christ will return to institute a thousand-
         year reign on earth; there will be the re-establishment of
         temple worship and sacrifice as a remembrance of Christís
         sacrifice
      6. Post-millennium:  Satan loosed, the battle of Gog and Magog,
         Satan defeated; the wicked dead are raised, the great white
         throne judgment, followed by the eternal state
      7. Major proponents:  George Eldon Ladd, Walter Martin, John
         Warwick Montgomery, and Theodore Zahn
      -- A visual synopsis of this view can be seen on the web here

   B. OBSERVATIONS...
      1. Not to be confused with dispensational premillennialism (see
         above)
      2. Called "historical" (or "classic") because elements of this
         view were first espoused by Justin Martyr (165 A.D.)
      3. It was taught among churches of Christ by:  Barton W. Stone,
         Moses E. Lard,  David Lipscomb, James A. Harding, and T. W.
         Brents
      4. This view is free from some of the troubling aspects found in
         dispensational premillennialsm (especially in regards to the
         church as an after-thought)
      5. It teaches two separate resurrections; the righteous are raised
         before the millennium, the wicked afterwards
      -- Its interpretation of OT prophecy and the book of Revelation is
         not strictly literal

[Another view that was once very popular is that of...]

III. POSTMILLENNIALISM

   A. DISTINCTIVE FEATURES...
      1. The kingdom of God:  a spiritual entity experienced on earth
         through the Christianizing affect of the Gospel
      2. The church:  the fulfillment of Israel (similar to historical
         premillennialism)
      3. The millennium:  an era (not a literal 1000 years) during which
         Christ will reign over the earth, not from an literal and
         earthly throne, but through the gradual increase of the Gospel
         and its power to change lives; after this gradual
         Christianization of the world, Christ will return and
         immediately usher the church into their eternal state after
         judging the wicked
      4. Post-millennium:  Christ returns, the righteous and the wicked
         raised, followed by the final judgment and the eternal state
      5. Major proponents:  Rousas J. Rushdoony, Greg L. Bahnsen,
         Kenneth L. Gentry Jr., David Chilton, and Gary North
      -- A visual synopsis of this view can be seen on the web here

   B. OBSERVATIONS...
      1. This view was very popular prior to the world wars of the
         twentieth century
      2. It was taught among churches of Christ by:  Alexander Campbell,
         Tolbert Fanning, J. W. McGarvey, Robert Milligan, and E. G.
         Sewell
      3. It does not necessarily hold to a literal 1000 year reign of
         Christ (similar to amillennialism)
      4. It teaches just one resurrection, the righteous and wicked at
         the same time
      -- Its interpretation of OT prophecy and the book of Revelation is
         not strictly literal

[A fourth view that was once the most dominant view is referred to
as...]

IV. AMILLENNIALISM

   A. DISTINCTIVE FEATURES...
      1. The kingdom of God:  a spiritual reality that all Christians
         partake in and that is seen presently by faith, but will be
         grasped by sight at the consummation
      2. The church:  the eschatological fulfillment of Israel, the
         visible manifestation today of the kingdom foretold by OT
         prophecy (along with John the Baptist and Jesus)
      3. The millennium:  not a literal 1000 years, but a long period of
         time between the first coming and second coming of Christ;
         inaugurated with Christís resurrection - in an "already/not yet"
         sense, Christ already reigns over all and is already victorious
         over Satan
      4. Post-millennium:  Satan loosed, battle of Gog and Magog, Christ
         returns, Satan defeated, the righteous and wicked dead are
         raised, the great white throne judgment, followed by the
         eternal state
      5. Major proponents:  Anthony Hoekema, William Hendrikson, Gregory
         K. Beale, Robert B. Strimple
      -- A visual synopsis of this view can be seen on the web here

   B. OBSERVATIONS...
      1. This view is perhaps better termed Nunc-Millennialism or
         Inaugurated Millennialism
         a. "Amillennialism" suggests a lack of belief in the millennium
         b. Though "a" can mean "in" (rather than the commoner "none")
         c. This view holds the millennium of Rev 20 is now, just not a
            physical kingdom
      2. Popularized by Augustine (400 A.D.), and remains the dominant
         view among Catholics and some Protestant denominations
         (Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican)
      3. It was taught among churches of Christ by:  Foy E. Wallace,
         R. L. Whiteside, C. R. Nichol and most in the churches of
         Christ since the early twentieth century
      4. It teaches just one resurrection, the righteous and wicked at
         the second coming of Christ
      -- Its interpretation of OT prophecy and the book of Revelation
         may be literal or symbolic, depending on the context

CONCLUSION

1. This survey is not intended to be exhaustive...
   a. There are variations in each of the four views
   b. Mormons, Jehovahís Witnesses, and Seventh-Day Adventists have
      their own peculiar views

2. But perhaps it helps to identify areas to examine regarding the end
   times ...
   a. The meaning of the expression "last days" in the Bible
   b. The interpretation of prophecy in the OT and Revelation
   c. The relationship between the church and the kingdom of God
   d. The meaning of the millennium in Revelation 20
   e. The doctrine of the resurrection and concepts of the rapture
   f. The role of Israel in Godís plan for the future

3. In the meantime...
   a. Are you ready for whatever comes?
   b. Are you watching for the Lordís return? - 1Th 5:1-6; 2Pe 3:10-14
   c. Are you working for the Lord now? - Mt 24:44-51

   Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always
   abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is
   not in vain in the Lord. - 1Co 15:58

In our next study, we shall look at the expression "last days" as found
in Scripture...

Note:  A useful aid in preparing this study was the Blue Letter Bible
website, especially its Eschatology section entitled, "Four Views Of The
Millenium" - http://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/mill.html
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