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Christ the Coming King

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Christ the Coming King
Steven Collier
Crown College

Abstract
In this paper I will discuss the different views on the second coming of Christ, the rapture of the church, how the second coming of Christ affects missions, and I give an exegesis of
Revelation 20:1-6. I will also discuss why I believe the pre-millennial view is the correct view concerning the return of Christ.

There are three schools of thought in the area of the thousand year reign of Christ. They are the amillennial view, postmillennial view, and the premillennial view. Those who believe in a amillennial view do not believe in a literal or an actual future kingdom of peace and prosperity here on earth that will last one thousand years. Those who hold this view tend to view Scripture in a more figurative way than a literal way. They believe the thousand year reign of Christ is symbolic of the church age between the resurrection of Christ and His return. Most amillennialists believe that a spiritual form of the Kingdom of God is present now.
Amillennialism reject the idea of a rapture. They believe good and evil will increase in the world as God’s Kingdom parallels the kingdom of Satan. They believe Satan is bound but yet evil increases. They believe when Christ returns the end of the world will occur with a general resurrection and a judgment of all people. They believe Christ will never reign on earth in a literal way but the Kingdom of God exists on earth in the heart of believers. It was under Augustine of Hippo that the Catholic Church started accepting an amillenial view of the return of Christ. We know that Augustine was heavily influenced by
Greek thought in developing a lot of his theology and although Augustine is considered a great theologian by the Catholic Church he is responsible for a large amount of the false teaching in the Catholic Church. “Augustine was highly influenced by the Neoplatonism of Plotinus and the allegorical method of Philo, which Origen developed for Christian thought.” (Fessenden et al.,
2007, p.130) I believe the amillenial view does not line up with what the Bible teaches about the rule of Christ on earth. The Bible describes it as a time of peace which is not what the world has experienced since the resurrection of Christ until now and I think it is very unrealistic to think of
Satan as being bound during this time period especially with all the evil we see in the world.
Which certainly is the work of evil not God. One of the greatest problems for the amillenial view is that the Bible does not teach this view of the return of Christ. There is no passage of
Scripture that supports the amillenial view. Those who support the amillenial view have to rely on an unnatural and symbolic understanding of the thousand years mentioned in Revelation 20.
We have seen the growth of amillenial thought come from two different sources which is a resurgence of growth in the Catholic church and liberal Protestant churches. Since liberal
Protestants have a low view of the inspiration of Scripture and no concern for a consistent interpretation of Scripture the tendency toward skepticism in a literal view of eschatology can be expected. The second view is the postmillennial view. Those who hold a post millennial view also view the current age as the Kingdom of God similar to the amillennialists except the postmillennialists see the reign of Christ not just in the hearts of believers but also having an impact on society and bringing the Kingdom of God to earth. Postmillennialists believe that the Kingdom of Christ was established at Christ’s first coming and is currently expanding through the preaching of the
Gospel until a majority of people are converted. “Postmillennialism sees the church as playing a major role in transforming whole social structures before the Second Coming, and endeavoring to bring about a “Golden Age” of peace and prosperity with great advances in education, the arts, sciences, and medicine.” (McGrath, 2011, p.461) Such a success will create a climate of reception to the things of Christ, including His mediated rule through the church of the entire world. Those who hold to this view believe the world is going to get better and a millennial kingdom would be established on earth as the world lives in peace. They believe Christ will return at the end of this thousand years of peace. I believe the postmillennial is unrealistic. I think it is naïve to believe this world is getting better when all the evidence points toward the world getting worst and I believe it ignores all the warnings in the Bible that the world will gets worse until Christ returns. I believe this view puts an emphasis on man to improve the world while ignoring the work of Christ. We have seen that those who hold to a more liberal social view of the Gospel usually also holds a postmillennial view of the return of Christ. If the church is supposed to bring in the kingdom of God than we are failing since we actually see Christianity on the decline in Western society. The postmillennial view has four distinct weaknesses which are it spiritualizes the scripture instead of relying on literal interpretation, people who hold a postmillennial view also tend to have liberal view of Scripture, the postmillennial view of an improving world does not fit with history or the modern world situation, and many postmillennials are losing hope in a postmillennial view point and are turning to a amillennial viewpoint. A major issue with postmillennialism and amillennialism is when a person starts spiritualizing Scripture it allows an individual to assign his own meanings to words and avoiding the literal interpretation of the Word of God. I think we can see how applying our on meaning to words can lead to all kinds of wrong teaching and enable false teachers. The last view is the premillennial view. People who hold to this view believe in a literal interpretation of Revelation 20. They believe Christ will return to earth to set up a literal kingdom on earth as He promised. In the Old Testament we see that God promised a literal kingdom to be restored to Israel in Isaiah 9:11-16. God will give the descendants of Abraham the land He promised to them forever in Genesis 17:7-8. The nation of Israel will return to inherit the land forever in Ezekiel 37:1-14 and we are already see this prophecy fulfilled with the rebirth of the nation of Israel in 1948. God’s covenant with Israel will never be cancelled in
Leviticus 26:40-44. The temple of Ezekiel’s vision will literally exist during the millennial reign of Christ on earth in Ezekiel 40-48. God’s promises concerning Jerusalem will be fulfilled literally in Psalm 132:13-14. The throne of David will be set up in Jerusalem with Jesus ruling from here during His millennial reign in 2 Samuel 7:12-16. There are many reasons to see that the premillennial viewpoint of the return of Christ is the correct viewpoint such as it is based on the belief of the infallibility of the Scripture.
Premillennialism is almost exclusively the belief of those Christians with a conservative viewpoint of theology compared to a liberal viewpoint of theology. Premillennialism has always been a target of those with a liberal viewpoint of Scripture. Most of those who attack the premillennial viewpoint hate the conservative Biblical theology of evangelicals.
Premillennialism and evangelical theology usually goes hand in hand. Premillennial thought has been a major factor in Biblical preaching of the evangelical community. Premillennialism is usually the viewpoint of those who hold the Bible and the guidance of the Holy Spirit over the teaching of man and the traditions of the church. Premillennialism does not ignore the subjects of hell, judgment, sin, and evil like so many of those who reject the premillennial viewpoint.
Premillennialism stirs evangelism, creates interest in Bible study, and stirs an interest in the return of Christ. It has been seen that most Bible study movements were created by those who held a premillennial viewpoint and believed in the literal interpretation of the Bible. The Premillennial view of the present age is one in which the Gospel is preached to the world but few are going to respond and the world is going to continue to grow more and more wicked which is the opposite of the golden age view held by amillenarians. Premillennialists reject the idea that is the Christian’s duty to improve the world socially and politically. They believe instead it is the Christian’s duty to evangelize the world because they recognize the rapture could happen at any time and those left behind will experience the wrath of God. The Bible does not teach any idea of political, social, moral, or physical improvement. The focus of the early church was on evangelism. The early church was focused on saving souls not on saving the world. The premillennial view of Israel is that the promises given to Israel in the Bible are literal and unconditional. The Bible says that God has promised Israel a glorious future and will be fulfilled after the return of Christ. The promises made to Israel in the Old Testament will be fulfilled during the millennial reign of Christ on earth. The re-birth of the nation of Israel in 1948 was seen as the fulfillment of prophecy and as a sign that we are in the last days of history. I believe in a premillennial view of the thousand year reign of Christ on earth. I believe this view holds true to the vision that was revealed to John in the Book of Revelation. A large number of church historians also believe that the early church held a premillennial view of the return of Christ. I believe the premillennial view to be soundly Biblically based. When you read the Book of Isaiah you see that Isaiah assures us that God will keep His covenant promises to
Israel during the reign of Christ on earth. These promises were made to Israel but was not fulfilled by ancient Israel so they must be fulfilled in the future. Isaiah 63-66 shows that the tribulation will precede the reign of Christ on earth and in the Book of Ezekiel we see extensive descriptions of the predicted Millennial Temple. Isaiah 11 describes the literal reign of Christ on earth. It is obvious that these prophecies are not being fulfilled now or that they were fulfilled at any time since the resurrection of Christ and they are not speaking of God’s reign in heaven so the only conclusion can be the literal reign of Christ on the earth during the millennium. With the renewal of premillennial thought in the 18th and 19th centuries we see a renewal in the interest in evangelism and world missions. The belief that rapture of the church can happen at any time and a literal interpretation of Matthew 24:14 motivated the evangelical churches of this time period to spread the Gospel to the world and we see a rebirth of evangelical spirit that had been missing since the early church period. In Matthew 24:14 Christ says the
Gospel will be preached in all the world not that the whole world will be saved. Jesus is basically saying everyone will be given a chance to respond to the Gospel before God judges the world for rejecting the Gospel. The literal interpretation of this verse drove A.B. Simpson to form the Christian and Missionary Alliance and focus his life on evangelism. Many including myself sees the requirement for the Gospel to be preached to the world in Matthew 24:14 as a very literal sign of the end to be fulfilled and a commission to the church along with the Great
Commission to fulfill through the work of evangelism and world missions. I think it is no accident that those organizations, individuals, denominations, and churches that are the most heavily involved in the work of evangelism and world missions normally hold a premillennial view of the return of Christ. Another thing that drives premillenialists towards evangelism is the belief of the rapture of the church and the seven years of God’s judgment on the world. This is a time period known as the tribulation and many premillenialists believe if their loved ones and others that they know do not accept Christ as their Savior they will experience this terrible time period of God’s wrath on the earth. Many believe the reason it has been almost 2000 years since the return of Christ is due to the love and patience of God to give every person an opportunity to hear the Gospel before He sends Christ to rapture the church and unleash His judgment on the world. The word rapture does not appear in the Bible but the events of the rapture are described specifically in two key passages which are 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4. In these chapters Paul describes a day when the dead in Christ will be raised and all the living who are saved will be changed and we will meet Christ in the air. I believe in a pretribulation rapture which means the rapture will occur before a literal seven year tribulation. I believe Christ will return for His church and God will unleash His judgment on mankind known as the seven years of tribulation. Those who are saved will not go through this time of judgment because Christ has taken them away to heaven with Him. I believe the pretribulation view holds true to a literal interpretation of the Bible. One reason I hold to a pretribulation view is that the church is not mentioned in the Book of Revelation after chapter four until after chapter eighteen. Beginning with Revelation 4:1 the term church or churches disappear until the bride of Christ is mentioned in chapter 19 with Christ in heaven before He returns to the earth to judge the wicked and to reign in the millennial kingdom. The church is not mentioned in the chapters describing God’s judgment on mankind. Chapter nineteen of the Book of Revelation place the wife, the church, already in heaven before Christ’s return to earth. This indicates that the church had already been called up to heaven before the return of Christ to the earth. We see that the bride of Christ is dressed and ready in heaven for the marriage of the
Lamb and the bride is already in heaven clothed in the righteousness of the saints. God intends to remove His church from the earth before the tribulation because their sins have already been judged on the cross. We see throughout the Bible that God spared the righteous from judgment.
We see in the story of Noah that God spared Noah and his family because Noah was a righteous man and in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah God spared Lot and his family. I believe the pretribulation view of the rapture is the most logical and literal meaning of prophecies concerning the end times, both Christ and Paul promised that believers would be spared from the wrath to come in Matthew 3:7 and 1 Thessalonians 1:10 and the pretribulation views fits the flow of the Book of Revelation. I believe the rapture can happen at any moment and no one knows when it will occur except for God so it is foolish of people to follow false teachers who say they know when Christ will return when the Bible in Matthew 24:36 clearly says no one knows except the Father. According to the Bible the rapture will come suddenly when no one is expecting it. Without warning Christ will appear then there will be a resurrection of those who have died in Christ and then there will be the rapture of all believers in Christ and we will all be called up to Christ in the air and instantaneously changed. The bodies of believers who have accepted Christ and who have died will be transformed into new, living, resurrected bodies. This new body will be joined together with the person’s soul that has been with Christ in heaven. Then the bodies of the living believers will be instantly transformed into immortal bodies and then all believers will be transported with Christ to heaven. The rapture will happen so fast that those who are left behind will probably have no idea what happened and will be left to ponder the disappearance of millions of individuals. At this point God’s restraining influence will be taken away allowing for the rise of the Antichrist. Revelation 20 starts in verse one with John seeing an angel coming down from heaven with a key to the bottomless pit and a great chain and we see in verse two that he lays hold of Satan to bind him for a thousand years. Verse three goes on to say that Satan is bound in the bottomless pit for a thousand years so that he cannot deceive the nations no more but after the thousand years are up he will be released once more. These are future events and did not take place at the cross. The Bible describes the present age as an evil age and Satan is called the god of this world in 2 Corinthians 4:4 so it is unreasonable to believe he is presently bound up. 1 Peter 5:8 describes Satan as walking about looking for who he can devour so it is obvious he is not presently bound up. So it would be reasonable to believe that Revelation 20:1-3 is an event to be played out in the future. In verse four John sees thrones and the verse says, “and they sat upon them,” (KJV) but John does not explain who he is seeing sitting on the thrones but he does say he see those who “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,” (KJV) I think it is obvious he is talking about tribulation saints here and he goes on to say they will reign with Christ for a thousand years. John goes on to say in verse five that, “the rest of the dead lived not until the thousand years were finished.” He John is talking about the unsaved and they want be resurrected until after the millennium to take part in the great white throne judgment as described in verses 11-15 of the same chapter. In verse six
John says that those who take part in the first resurrection are holy and blessed and the second death has no power over them and they shall be priests of God and of Christ and reign with Him for a thousand years. I think we can see that premillennialism is rooted in both the Old and New Testaments, it is the product of literal interpretation of the Bible, it was the belief of the Apostles and the early church, it was suppressed by the Catholic Church, and that it emerge once again when the church got serious evangelism and return to solid Biblical study. Premillennialism is a belief that inspires the literal interpretation of the Bible and honors the Bible as the infallible and inspired
Word of God. Premillennialism creates motivation for evangelism, world missions, Bible study, and prepares people for the coming of the Lord.
References
McGrath, A. E. (2011). Christian Theology an Introduction. West Sussex, U.K.: John Wiley and Sons Ltd.
Fessenden, D. E. & Foster, K.N. (2007). Essays on Premillennialism. Camp Hill, PA.: Wing Spread Publishers.…...

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