Millennial Orientation

One Winner, Three Losers.

From the chapter “Millennial Orientation and the Great Commission”, in Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr’s The Greatness of the Great Commission, page 135 to 141.

“Footnotes kept”

[My comments in bold brackets.]

—<Quote begins>—

For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For He has put all things under His feet…. 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 (1 Corinthians 15:25-27a, 58).

“Eschatology” is that field of study in theology that is concerned with “the last things.”[1] AsI have shown in various places in the preceding chapters, eschatology has a tremendous effect on the Christian’s worldview and, consequently, on his practical, daily living. Eschatological systems are generally categorized in regard to their approach to the “millennium.”[2] The idea of the millennium is derived from Revelation 20:1-6, where the designation of a “one thousand” year reign of Christ is treated (though only in these six verses!).


[1] “Eschatology” is derived from the Greek: eschatos, i.e. “last,” and logos, i.e. “word.”

[2] “Millennium” is derived from the Latin mille, i.e. “thousand,” and annum, i.e. “year.”

[That’s A LOT of weight to be put on six verses!]

Comparative Summary of Millennial Views

The Great Commission is greatly affected by our understanding of eschatology. Ironically, there is one eschatological position that cites the Great Commission as evidence of its biblical warrant: postmillennialism. This is the viewpoint presented in this book. In that the Great Commission is so affected by one’s eschatological system, it might be helpful to provide a brief summary of several of the leading features of the four major evangelical eschatological systems.[1] It should be understood that any particular adherent to one of the following views may disagree with some aspect as I have presented it. There are always differences of nuance among adherents to any particular system. Nevertheless, the presentation attempts to portray accurately the general, leading features of the systems. The systems will be presented in alphabetical order.

Amillennialism

Definition:

That view of prophecy that expects no wide-ranging, long-lasting earthly manifestation of kingdom power until Christ returns, other than in the salvation of the elect. Amillennialist Kuiper writes: “‘The thousand years’ of Revelation 20 represent in symbolic language a long and complete period; namely, the period of history from Christ’s ascension into heaven until his second coming. Throughout that age Christ reigns and the saints in glory reign with him (vs. 4). Satan is bound in the sense of not being permitted to lead the pagan nations against Christendom (vss. 2-3)…. During that period also takes place under the rule of Christ what may be termed the parallel development of the kingdom of light and that of darkness…. Toward the end of ‘the thousand years’ Satan will be loosed for a little while. Those will be dark days for the church of God…. Christ will return in ineffable glory and, having raised the dead, will sit in judgment on all men (Rev. 20: 12,13).”[2]

Descriptive Features:

1. The Church Age is the kingdom era prophesied by the Old Testament prophets.[3] Israel and the Church are merged into one body in Christ to form the Israel of God.

2. Satan is bound during His earthly ministry at Christ’s First Coming. Satan is progressively restricted by the proclamation of the gospel.

3. Christ rules in the hearts of believers. There will be but occasional, short-lived influences of Christianity on culture, although the Christian should, nevertheless, labor toward a Christian culture. Hence: the system is amillennial (no-millennium), in that there is no visible, earthly manifestation of millennial conditions as in the pre- and postmillennial systems. The “thousand years” is held to be a symbolic figure representative of a vast expanse of time.

4. History will gradually worsen as the growth of evil accelerates toward the end. This will culminate in the Great Tribulation.

5. Christ will return to end history, resurrect and judge all men, and establish the eternal order.

Representative Adherents:

In the ancient church: Hermas (first century) and Augustine (A.D. 354-430). In the modern church: Jay E. Adams, Hendrikus Berkhof, Louis Berkhof, Theodore Graebner, W. J. Grier, Floyd E. Hamilton, William Hendriksen, J. W. Hodges, Anthony Hoekema, Abraham Kuyper, Philip Mauro, George Murray, Albenus Pieters, and Geerhardus Vos (possibly).

Dispensational Premillennialism

Definition:

A theological system, arising around 1830, that understands the Scripture to teach that God has two separate programs for two distinct peoples: national Israel and the Church. Since Pentecost the program for the Church has been in operation. The Church will continue to operate as a spiritual witness to the nations until God secretly raptures Christians out of the world. Soon thereafter Christ will return to the earth to set up an earthly kingdom of one thousand years duration.[4]

Descriptive Features:

1. The Church Age is a wholly unforseen mystery, which was altogether unknown to and unexpected by the Old Testament prophets.

2. God has a separate and distinct program and plan for racial Israel, as distinguished from the Church. The Church of Jesus Christ is a parenthetical aside in the original plan of God.

3. The Kingdom offered by Christ in the first century was postponed until the future.

4. The Church experiences some small scale successes in history, but ultimately loses influence, fails in her mission, is corrupted as worldwide evil increases and intensifies toward the end of the Church Age.

5. Christ returns secretly in the sky to rapture living saints and to resurrect the bodies of deceased saints (the first resurrection). These are removed out of the world before the Great Tribulation. The judgment of the saints is accomplished in heaven during the seven year period before Christ’s return to the earth.

6. At the conclusion of the seven year Great Tribulation, Christ returns to the earth with His glorified saints in order to establish and personally administer a Jewish political kingdom headquartered at Jerusalem for 1000 years. During this time Satan is bound and the temple and sacrificial system is re-established in Jerusalem as memorials. Hence: the system is “premil-lennial,” in that Christ returns prior to the millennium, which is a literal 1000 years.

7. Toward the end of the Millennial Kingdom, Satan is loosed and Christ is surrounded and attacked at Jerusalem.

8. Christ calls down fire from heaven to destroy His enemies. The resurrection (the second resurrection) and judgment of the wicked occurs. The eternal order begins.

Representative Adherents:

In the ancient church: None(created ca. 1830). In the modern church: Donald G. Barnhouse, W. E. Blackstone, James M. Brookes, L. S. Chafer, John Nelson Darby, Charles Lee Feinberg, A. C. Gaebelein, Norman Geisler, Harry Ironside, Hal Lindsey, C. H. MacIntosh, G. Campbell Morgan, J. Dwight Pentecost, Charles C. Ryrie, C. I Scofield, John F. Walvoord, and Warren Wiersbe.

Historic Premillennialism

Definition: That ancient view of prophecy that sees the present age as one in which the Church will expand, but with little influence in the world, other than calling out the elect to salvation. At the end of this age the Lord will return and resurrect believers and will establish His kingdom over the earth for 1000 years. At the end of that period will occur the resurrection of the wicked. Premillennialist Ladd writes: “the gospel is not to conquer the world and subdue all nations to itself. Hatred, conflict, and war will continue to characterize the age until the coming of the Son of Man” and “evil will mark the course of the age.”[5]

Descriptive Features:

1. The New Testament era Church is the initial phase of Christ’s kingdom as prophesied by the Old Testament prophets.

2. The New Testament Church will win many victories, but ultimately will fail in its mission, lose influence, and become corrupted as worldwide evil increases toward the end of the Church Age.

3. The Church will pass through a future, worldwide, unprecedented time of travail, known as the Great Tribulation, which will punctuate the end of contemporary history.

4. Christ will return at the end of the Tribulation to rapture the Church, resurrect deceased saints, and conduct the judgment of the righteous in the “twinkling of an eye.”

5. Christ then will descend to the earth with His glorified saints, fight the battle of Armageddon, bind Satan, and establish a worldwide, political kingdom, which will be personally administered by Him for 1000 years from Jerusalem. Hence, the designation “premillennial, in that Christ returns prior to the millennium, which is understood as a literal 1000 years.

6. At the end of the millennial reign, Satan will be loosed and a massive rebellion against the kingdom and a fierce assault against Christ and His saints will occur.

7. God will intervene with fiery judgment to rescue Christ and the saints. The resurrection and the judgment of the wicked will occur and the eternal order will begin.

Representative Adherents:

In the Ancient church: Papias (A.D. 60-130) and Justin Martyr (A.D. 100-165). In the modern church: Henry Alford, E. B. Elliott, A. R. Faussett, Henry W. Frost, H. G. Guinness, Robert H. Gundry, S. H. Kellog, George Eldon Ladd, Alexander Reese, and Nathaniel West.

Postmillennialism

Definition:

Postmillennialism is that system of eschatology which understands the Messianic kingdom to have been founded upon the earth during the earthly ministry and through the redemptive labors of the Lord Jesus Christ in fulfillment of Old Testament prophetic expectation. The nature of that kingdom is essentially redemptive and spiritual and will exercise a transformational socio-cultural influence in history, as more and more people are converted to Christ. Postmillennialism confidently anticipates a time in earth history in which the gospel will have won the victory throughout the earth in fulfillment of the Great Commission. After an extended period of gospel prosperity, earth history will be drawn to a close by the personal, visible, bodily return of Jesus Christ (accompanied by a literal resurrection and a general judgment).

Descriptive Features:

1. The Church is the kingdom prophesied in the Old Testament era and is the millennial age. It is com- posed of Jew and Gentile merged into one body in Christ, as the New Israel of God.

2. The kingdom was established in its mustard seed form by Christ during His earthly ministry at His First Coming. It will develop gradualistically through time.[6]

3. Satan was bound by Christ in His earthly ministry and is progressively hindered as the gospel spreads.

4. The Great Tribulation occurred in the first century at the destruction of the Jewish Temple and Jerusalem, because of Israel’s rejection of their Messiah, Jesus Christ.

5. The kingdom will grow and develop until eventually it exercises a dominant and universal gracious influence in a long era of righteousness, peace, and prosperity on the earth and in history.

6. Toward the end of Christ’s spiritual millennial reign, Satan will be loosed and a brief rebellion by the remaining minority, unconverted sinners against Christianity will occur.

7. Christ will return after the millennium to avenge Himself upon the ungrateful rebels and to resurrect and judge all men. He will then usher in the eternal order. Hence: the system is postmillennial, in that Christ returns after the millennium, al- though the “1000 years” is held to be a symbolic figure representative of a vast expanse of time.

Representative Adherents:

In the ancient church: Eusebius (A.D. 260-340) and Athanasius (A.D. 296-372). In the modern church: (traditional) J. A. Alexander, o. 1: Allis, David Brown, Lorraine Boettner, John Calvin, Roderick Campbell, David Chilton, John Jefferson Davis, Jonathan Edwards, A. A. and Charles A. Hodge, Erroll Hulse, Marcellus Kik, John Murray, B. B. Warfield; (covenantal or theonomic) Greg Bahnsen, Francis Nigel Lee, Gary North, R. J. Rushdoony – and the Westminster Confession of Faith and many of the Puritans.


[You got that?

Amillennialism = “Christ rules in the heart of believers” as the rest of the world grows worse and worse, and Satan grows increasingly successful in crushing all that is good in the real world.

Dispensational Premillennialism = Evil triumphs so much that God must rapture His saints from the battlefield. In the end Christ returns personally to rule with an iron rod. And reconstitute ethnic Israel as His people, AGAIN putting a division between Jew and Gentile – in direct opposition to the teaching of the New Testament (!!!), and His many warnings on the wrath coming onto Jerusalem.

(Note: in the real world, the old Harlot-Bride was divorced in AD 70: and the new Bride, His Church, will be clean forever.)

All this dipsy blasphemy , to return to a failed past… why? Because neither Jew nor Gentile proved to be worthy, profitable servants. They couldn’t get a thing done without His on-the-spot supervision, in the flesh.

(I can imagine Satan snorting with mockery at this outcome.)

The Church Age is shut down, and the Temple sacrifices begin again.

*glares at the dispensationalists*

“And the reason the blood of bulls and goats must AGAIN be shed is because…?”

*pause*

*continues, still enraged*

There must be a vast bureaucratic government, too, because — according to the dispeys — men will never learn to govern themselves in accordance to God’s will. No growth, no maturity, just a world of infants and by-the-book bureaucrats, with One Perfect Man in Jerusalem.

So sayeth the “Rapture in 1988” dispensationalists.

Historic Premillennialism = As above, but without the obscenity of a new Temple, or pushing ignorance on the prophets regarding the “Church Age”.

“That ancient view of prophecy that sees the present age as one in which the Church will expand, but with little influence in the world, other than calling out the elect to salvation.” – you can actually see the Right Sort — and the Dark One who they follow — rub their hands with pleasure.

  • “The less influence, the better!”
  • “Go back and hide in your temples and prayer closets!”

Postmillennialism: Christ and His people win the entire world over time (with the occasional setback), and increasingly reshape human civilization to a comprehensive alignment to Christ’s commandments. In time, the entire world is converted (with trivial exceptions). After a brief, final rebellion when Satan is loosed, Christ rrives in teh Flesh, the Final Judgement is upheld, and history (as we know it) comes to a close.

The good guys get to win, and the bad guys get to lose.
In time, and on earth.

“It’s the way God likes it.”]


The Biblical and Theological Superiority of Postmillennialism

There are two sets of primary considerations: biblical and theological. The former relates to the actual biblical texts; the latter relates to the implications of these texts.

Biblical Considerations

1. Contrary to dispensationalism’s view of the Church Age being unforeseen by the prophets of the Old Testament, see: Acts 2:16-17; 3:24-26; 15:14-18; Galatians 3:8.

2. Contrary to dispensationalism’s view that the kingdom promises refer to national Israel rather than to the Church as the New Israel of God, see: Galatians 3:28-19; 6:16; Ephesians 2:12-22; Philippians 3:3; Romans 2:28-29; and 1 Peter 2:5-9.

3. Contrary to dispensationalism, Christ did establish His kingdom in the first century, see: Mark 1:15; 9:1; Luke 11:20; 17:20-21; John 18:33-37; Colossians 1:13.


4. Contrary to dispensationalism, Christ is now enthroned and ruling over His kingdom, see: Acts 2:29-35; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 1:3; 10:12-13; Revelation 1:5-6; 3:21.

5. Contrary to dispensationalism and historic premillennialism, Christ’s kingdom is not an earthly-political kingdom[7], but a spiritual-redemptive kingdom, see: Luke 17:20-21; Romans 14:17; John 18:36-37.

6. Contrary to dispensationalism and historic premillennial- ism, Satan was bound in the first century, see: Matthew 12:28- 29; Luke 10:18; John 12:31; Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8.


7. Contrary to dispensationalism, historic premillennialism, and amillennialism, the Great Tribulation occurred in the first century (at the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem), see: Matthew 24:34 (cp. Matt. 24:2, 3, 15, 21); Revelation 1:1, 3, 9; 3:10 (cp. Revelation 7:14).

8. Contrary to dispensationalism, historic premillennialism, and amillennialism, the Church will not fail in its task of evangelizing the world, see: Matthew 13:31-32; 16:18; 28:18-20.

9. Contrary to dispensationalism, historic premillennialism, and amillennialism, Christ’s redemptive labors will hold a universal sway in the world before the end of contemporary history, see: Matthew 13:31-32; John 1:29; 3:17; 4:42; 12:31-32; 1 Corinthians 15:20-26; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Hebrews 1:3, 13; 10:12-13.


10. Contrary to dispensationalism and historic premillennialism, there is but one resurrection and one judgment, which occur simultaneously at the end of history, see: Daniel 12:2; Matthew 24:31-32; John 5:28-29; 6:39-40; 11:40; Acts 24:15.

11. Contrary to dispensationalism and historic premillenniaIism, when Christ comes, history will end, see: 1 Corinthians 15:20-25; Matthew 13:29-30; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17.

Theological Considerations

1. In distinction to dispensationaIism, historic premillenniaIism, and amillenniaIism, postmillennialism is optimistic in its historical outlook, see: Psalm 2; 72; Isaiah 2:1-4; 9:6-7; 11:1- 9; Matthew 28:18-20.

2. In distinction to dispensationalism and historic premillenniaIism, postmillennialism does not allow for a monstrous and absurd mixing of immortal, gloried and resurrected saints with mortal, unglorified men upon the earth for a 1000 year period of interaction.

3. In distinction to dispensationalism and historic premillennialism, in postmillennialism Christ will not undergo a “second humiliation” on earth (or ever).

4. Contrary to dispensationalism, postmillennialism does not teach there is coming a return to “weak and beggarly elements,” such as the temple, sacrifices, Jewish exaltation, and such, see: Galatians 4:9; Hebrews 9-10; 1 Peter 2:5-9; Ephesians 2:20-21; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:19ff.


[1] For more detailed information, see: Robert G. Clouse, ed., The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views (Downer’s Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1977).

[2] R. B. Kuiper, God-Centered Evangelism (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1961), pp. 208-209.

[3] Amillennialist Anthony Hoekema sees the fulfillment of the kingdom prophecies in the New Heavens and New Earth, rather than in the Church. Anthony Hoekema, The Bible and the Future (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979). See my footnote 2, p. 147.

[4] See: H. Wayne House and Thomas D. Ice, Dominion Theology: Blessing Or Curse? (Portland, OR: Multnomah, 1988), pp. 418-420, 422.

[5] George Eldon Ladd. Theology of the New 1istammt (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans. 1974). pp. 202. 203.

[6] It does not develop uniformly, but gradualistically in spurts. In a sense, it is like seed, which is planted and grows and produces other seed (see: Matt. 13:3-9,23). Thus, we can expect it to grow in certain areas and perhaps even to die, but eventually to come back, because the productivity of seed involves its death and renewal (see: John 12:24; 1 Cor. 15:36). In addition, we may expect God’s pruning from time to time (John 15:5-6).

[7] Although Christ’s kingdom does have an earthly-political influence.

—<Quote ends>—

People who feel destined to lose…. LOSE.
People who KNOW that God wants them to win… WIN!

From the chapter “Millennial Orientation and the Great Commission”, in Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr’s The Greatness of the Great Commission, page 135 to 141.

“Footnotes deleted.”

[My comments in bold brackets.]

—<Quote On>—

The Issue

The dispensationalist Christian has a different understanding of the Great Commission from the postmillennialist. In addition, so do many amillennialists and historic (non-dispensational) premillennialists. And that difference of understanding is not merely one of a shading of grey tones, but of a stark contrast of black and white, as we shall see.

The three eschatological systems mentioned in the preceding paragraph may be categorized as “pessimistic,” whereas the postmillennial view may be seen as “optimistic.” In categorizing them as “pessimistic,” I am speaking of the following issues:

(1) As systems of gospel proclamation each teaches the gospel of Christ will not exercise any majority influence in the world before Christ’s return;

(2) As systems of historical understanding each, in fact, holds the Bible teaches there are prophetically determined, irresistible trends downward toward chaos in the outworking and development of history; and therefore

(3) As systems for the promotion of Christian discipleship each dissuades the Church from anticipating and laboring for wide-scale success in influencing the world for Christ during this age.

[ “There’s no way Christ is going to keep His word, that His Kingdom will grow, and Satan’s Kingdom will shrink. That can’t be. THAT CAN’T BE!”

I wonder, if it is really Christians who are saying this.

Maybe Christians in the sense of the “No miracles”, “No resurrection”, “No Judgement” kind of modern liberal seminary Christian.

More hollow, powerless — but “safe and nonthreatening” — shells of the real thing.]

The pessimism/optimism question has very much to do with the practical endeavors of Christians in the world today. All evangelical Christians are optimistic in the ultimate sense that God will miraculously win the war against sin and Satan at the end of history by direct, supernatural intervention, either in a pre-millennial kingdom introduced by the Second Coming or at the final judgment, which introduces the New Heavens and New Earth.

A recent illustration of the practical effects of a pessimistic worldview is found in a statement recorded by Charles Colson. He speaks of Christians ceasing to attempt to be an influence for righteousness in the political and social arena: A “prominent evangelical, veteran of the battles of the eighties, told me he was through. ‘Why bother?’ he confided privately.

[If you don’t think you can win, you WILL lose.
Especially when the going gets tough.]

Examples of Eschatological Pessimism

Two best-selling authors in our day, well-known representatives of dispensationalism are Hal Lindsey and Dave Hunt. These men have recognized the significant difference between their dispensational understanding of the Great Commission and its implications and the postmillennial understanding with its implications. In fact, they have written recent works for the very purpose of countering the postmillennial understanding of the Great Commission. But, as we shall see, these two men are not the only evangelicals who dispute the historic postmillennial view.

Dispensationalism

The dispensational view sees the Great Commission in this age as having only a very restricted influence in bringing men to salvation. The hundreds of thousands of evangelical Christians who read dispensational literature have had continually drummed into their minds the teaching that under no circumstance will the gospel be victorious in our age. Let me demonstrate this by a quick survey of quotations from several dispensational authors.

Hal Lindsey states the situation about as strongly as can be: “Christ died for us in order to rescue us from this present evil age. [Titus 2:11-15] show what our focus, motivation, and hope should be in this present age. We are to live with the constant expectation of the any-moment appearing of our LORD to this earth.”

[Well, that’s the waste of a life.

And when that poor soul appears, and God asks him how he used his talents? How he extended Christ’s dominion? Hoe he worked to disciple the nations – or even his town, village, business?

And consider how God will judge the leader, the prophet, who told so many to waste their lives waiting for a Rapture that will never happen. To forget about using their talents to actually extend Christ’s dominion on this earth, in the real world.]

H. A. Ironside notes in his comments on the Great Commission: “We know that not all nations will accept the message in this age of grace.” William MacDonald points out that the Great Commission “does not presuppose world conversion.” In fact, the opposite is true, according to J. Dwight Pentecost, for “during the course of the age there will be a decreasing response to the sowing of the seed” of the Gospel. Stanley Toussaint concurs, when he notes that “evil will run its course and dominate the [Church] age.” Warren Wiersbe agrees: “Some make this parable [of the Mustard Seed] teach the worldwide success of the Gospel. But that would contradict what Jesus taught in the first parable. If anything, the New Testament teaches a growing decline in the ministry of the Gospel as the end of the age draws near.” In fact, he notes later that “it would seem that Satan is winning! But the test is at the end of the age, not during the age.”

[They value God’s promises and His Law-Word so little, and the might of evil men so highly. You’d think we were all living under a worldwide Darwinian-Slaveholding-Nazi-Communist crushing totalitarian tyranny by now.

If it were up to the Right Sort, that could well be true.
“So long as we are at the peak of the power-pyramid.”

But men don’t get the final say.
Not in this life, and not in the next!]

Charles C. Ryrie denies any postmillennial hope based on the Great Commission, when he speaks in opposition to the postmillennial hope: “Their confidence in the power of God causes them to believe that the Great Commission will be fulfilled in that most of the world will be saved.” The postmillennial view of Church history is wrong, he says, because “defection and apostasy, among other things, will characterize that entire period.” Consequently, Dave Hunt argues that “only a small percentage of mankind is willing… to come to Christ in repentance and be born again by the Spirit of God” and that “the vast majority of people will continue to reject Christ in the future just as they have in the past.” Hal Lindsey scorns the postmillennialist for believing “that virtually the whole world population will be converted. I wish this were possible, but God Himself says that it is not.” In fact, “the world will progressively harden its heart against the Gospel and plunge itself into destruction.”

{I am confident that Christ will accomplish His purpose.

And we, being filed with the Holy Spirit, must work to obey Christ’s command, to disciple the nations. First in small ways, and then in greater ways, and then in worldwide ways.

Numbers 14:21
“Yet as surely as I live and as surely as the whole earth is filled with the glory of the LORD,

Psalm 22:27
All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD. All the families of the nations will bow down before Him.

Isaiah 11:9
They will neither harm nor destroy on all My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the sea is full of water.

Isaiah 40:5
And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

Jeremiah 31:34
No longer will each man teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquities and will remember their sins no more.”

Ezekiel 47:5
Once again he measured off a thousand cubits, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough for swimming–a river that could not be crossed on foot.

Habakkuk 2:14
For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.]

Historic Premillennialism

Historic premillennialists would concur with such a dismal prospect for the widespread success of the gospel. J. Barton Payne believes that “evil is present in our world as predicted in the Holy Books” (of the Bible). This evil must occur because it is a forecast of Christ’s soon return. Robert H. Mounce laments that “it is difficult to see from history alone any cause for optimism.” He is certain that it will be a “persecuted church [that] will witness the victorious return of Christ,” rather than a world-conquering church. George Eldon Ladd concurs: “In spite of the fact that God had invaded history in Christ, and in spite of the fact that it was to be the mission of Jesus’ disciples to evangelize the entire world (Matt. 24:!4), the world would remain an evil place. False christs would arise who would lead many astray. Wars, strife, and persecution would continue. Wickedness would abound so as to chill the love of many.”

[There will be hard times. And there will be good times.

Because Christ loves his people, and even gives gifts to the unbelievers, there will be more and more good times, and fewer and fewer hard times.

Even the unbeliever will obey to some extent, in order to get the benefits of obedience.]

Amillennialism

Among amillennialists we discover the same sort of despair. Cornelius Vanderwaal writes that “I do not believe in inevitable progress toward a much better world in this dispensation” and God’s “church has no right to take an optimistic, triumphalistic attitude.” H. de Jongste and J. M. van Krimpen are forthright in their declaration that “there is no room for optimism: towards the end, in the camps of the satanic and the anti-Christ, culture will sicken, and the Church will yearn to be delivered from its distress.” Amillennialist Donald Guthrie, according to dispensationalist John F. Walvoord, “readily agrees that the biblical point of view is pessimistic, that is, the world as it is now constituted will not be revived and improved, but instead, will be destroyed and replaced.”

[Wrong! Christ came to save and redeem THIS world, and He will not be stopped.]

Christian Cultural Models

At this juncture we should recall our opening questions from our introduction: (1) What is the Great Commission? (2) What is the goal of the Great Commission? and (3) What is the nature of the Great Commission?

The dispensational understanding of the Great Commission, as indicated in the response to the three questions above, may be designated the Pietistic Model. By that I mean that dispensationalism seeks personal piety, while denying the possibility and even desirability of cultural conversion.

The amillennialist and historic premillennialist views may be termed the Composite Model. By that I mean that although they do encourage Christian cultural engagement, nevertheless, their systems allow only sporadic, temporary, partial victories for Christianity in terms of any beneficent cultural influence.

The postmillennial understanding of the Great Commission may be designated the Transformational Model. It not only seeks but expects both widespread personal piety and Christian cultural transformation. Again, all non-postmillennial views deny widespread and enduring gospel success in transforming men, nations, and cultures in this age.

[Christians with a Godly hope in this world expect the good guy to win, for the Cause of Christ to triumph over the forces of slavery, death, oppression, lies, theft, rape, racism, cruelty, hunger, homelessness.

These wicked spirits will be weakened, driven out, destroyed, in time and on earth. With the occasional setback: two steps forward, one step back.

And later, three steps forward, one step back.

And this will be accomplished by the Command of Christ, and the Power of His Holy Spirit.]

—<Quote off>—

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