O Fools and Slow of Heart to believe all that the Prophets have Spoken

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Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
A preface which must be read.
In a sentence - My purpose was an attempted reductio ad absurdum to challenge people to expect great things yet from Jesus our King of Glory. For with God, all things are possible. But, to my horror, one godly man wrote the following to me in a private correspondence:

"this sounds deeply cynical and sarcastic regarding the character of God, and trustworthiness of His word! Perhaps you are simply referring to the misinterpretation of those who deny hyperbole in the Bible (and there are instances of such, but not in the examples you gave), but what it comes across as is disrespect along with doubt as to the goodness and trustworthiness of His character and word."

This criticism is the exact opposite of what my intentions where. I have the highest regard for the Word of God, which is pure and trustworthy - though all men are liars, God is true. I think all will agree that the Kingdom on Earth has progressed since Jesus' appearance to "above five hundred brethren at once," ( 1 Cor. 15:6) and today where there are around two billion who profess Christ. Why do some say it's all downhill from here? How do you know but in the secret mind of God that there aren't yet ten thousand years, or even longer for further development of the Kingdom? Please read what I wrote below in the spirit of what I am saying in this preface, knowing that I believe with all my heart that "all things are possible with God." Is not God "able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us?" (Eph 3:20)

Matthew 28:18-20
All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:
and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.
Amen.


=======

Greetings Pilgrims,

Some food for thought about the future.

To the two mournful doubting disciples on the road to Emmaus, Jesus, after hearing their story gave them this rebuke and further teaching:

Luke 24:25‭-‬27 (ESV)‬‬
And he said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Over ten times in the New Testament, Christ is called the savior of the world. (or equivalent) - John 1:9; John 1:29; John 3:16,17; John 4:14; John 4:42; John 6:33; John 8:12; John 9:5; John 12:47; 1 Timothy 4:10; 1 John 2:2; 2 Corinthians 5:19
Hyperbole or prophecy?

Three times in John Jesus prayed that his disciples and those that would believe in Him because of their word would become one just like the father is one with the Son. (John 17:11, 21,23) He added (v 21) that this oneness would be visible and powerful enough to convince the God-hating world that God sent his Son into the world. Verse 23 shows that this includes an outwardly visible oneness of God's people that has a future fulfillment that will convince the world that God sent his Son Jesus and the disciples are beloved of God even as God loves his Son. "that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me." (John 17:23 ESV)
More hyperbole or prophecy? Or is it as yet unanswered prayer?

Revelation 20:1‭-‬3 (ESV)‬‬
"Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him so that he might not deceive the nations any longer until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be released for a little while.
Hyperbole or prophecy?"

Ministers and commentators have often told me that we are living in the day of this binding of Satan. And as Spurgeon and others have said: "the devil is bound but with a long chain." And I am sure I will be told again today that we are now living in that "golden age."

Of what I said above, this is the sum.
If Jesus is said to be the savior of the whole world, and if the devil is said to be bound in such a way that the nations of the world can no longer be deceived, then it seems to me that the Bible and its author God is given to wild exaggeration. I ask you, which of all the nations in the world appear to you as being undeceived?

Some questions.
If the thrice repeated prayer for oneness among Christians is a fact in the present day, then why isn't the world more impressed with that oneness? Are a thousand denominations and sects of Christianity in any way a display of that oneness? Again, it seems that God is given to using hyperbole and exaggeration to an extent that would not be acceptable in any other circle. To believe that the Christians in the world have been united as one in Christ today would be like saying the current Republicans and Democrats in the United States are of one mind and one spirit seeking the same goals and purposes and making that clear to all who will observe.

If the oneness of Christians and the binding of Satan at this present time are as good as it gets then, I wonder what else God is exaggerating? I mean, is heaven really as good as the Bible makes it out to be? Is God really all-powerful? Is He as glorious as the Bible characterizes Him? Is the Great Commission really all that great after all? One has to wonder where the hyperbole ends and where reality begins.

Note.
I avoided quoting from the scores of prophecies in the Old Testament that speak of a yet future latter rain expansion of the Kingdon on Earth because I have been criticized before for misinterpreting them and thinking that they have anything literal to do with the future of Christianity in time and on Earth. Hyperbole! I guess I'm a fool, after all, for believing all that the prophets have spoken.

Perhaps it is time to take a lesson from the two on the road to Emmaus. You might also want to reread about God's opinion of the 10 spies who brought an evil report. (Numbers 14)

Reactions?
 
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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hello Ed,

You said,

Over ten times in the New Testament, Christ is called the savior of the world. (or equivalent) . . . Hyperbole or prophecy?​

The nuanced answer is in how the word “world” is used. It does not refer to everyone in the world, head-for-head, but regarding all those in the world for whom Christ came and died. Some men in the world hate the light, and not all will have their sins to be taken away, as they love them more than the light.

Often the world is that of mankind which hates God and His Christ:

“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:18, 19). At other times the world is spoken of as the nations besides Israel / Jewry, as in 1 John 2:2. No hyperbole here, Ed. but different usages.

Then you say, Ed,

Three times in John Jesus prayed that his disciples and those that would believe in Him because of their word would become one just like the father is one with the Son. (John 17:11, 21,23) He added (v 21) that this oneness would be visible and powerful enough to convince the God-hating world that God sent his Son into the world. Verse 23 shows that this includes an outwardly visible oneness of God's people that has a future fulfillment that will convince the world that God sent his Son Jesus and the disciples are beloved of God even as God loves his Son. "that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me." (John 17:23 ESV)
More hyperbole or prophecy? Or is it as yet unanswered prayer?​

“More hyperbole” you say, as though any of your examples are such? No. I would say it can even be seen now by many in the world. The Muslim sister of one of our church women said that it was remarkable how those in the church really cared for and loved one another—and for that reason she was afraid to come any longer, as to renounce her Muslim faith and turn to Christ would engender much strife in her family. And there shall be a day—more in line with your “prophecy? . . . or as yet unanswered prayer?”—when all stand before the great throne on Judgment Day—and all the perishing world see how we loved one another. See Matt 25:34-40.

It is generally for conscience’s sake re doctrine there are so many denominations—brethren separating into different churches—and yet we do display an extraordinary love for one another, which is called “catholicity of spirit”. And we do care for our brethren around the world, even if we differ in things. Many of us support ministries caring for the persecuted and suffering church in other lands.

And then your bringing up Rev 20:1-3? Ed, are you unfamiliar with the exegeses of these verses, especially the Amillennial? You then said,

If Jesus is said to be the savior of the whole world, and if the devil is said to be bound in such a way that the nations of the world can no longer be deceived, then it seems to me that the Bible and its author God is given to wild exaggeration. I ask you, which of all the nations in the world appear to you as being undeceived?​

Perhaps the edgy near-irreverence of the above (and after) is why there hasn’t been much participation in this thread, given that you’re an older, knowledgeable, and godly man that people might be reluctant to reprove and exhort; but I have at least a decade or two over you. But to answer:

The nations were once deceived en masse, save for Israel, but when the Gospel of Christ went forth throughout the world in the power of His resurrection, the wondrous cleansing power of His blood, and the illumining of His Spirit, the hold of Satan over nations—as nations—was broken, although individuals could still be deceived. Even kings and powerful magistrates were converted to the Saviour, and laws of nations were in favor of the word of God and the Gospel of His Son.

But now, as the end of the age draws near, and the Gospel is outlawed and forbidden in many lands, even in the West—where the Bible is often said to be filled with hate speech—we shall see the outlawing of sound Biblical preaching. Commentator William Hendriksen surmised that it appeared Satan had already been loosed again (Rev 20:3, 7) in certain foreign lands—and he wrote that in the middle of the 20th century (see More Than Conquerors, p 195).

Dear brother, fortify your mind (the helmet of salvation) against the insinuations of the wicked one. Psalm 19:7-9:

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul:
the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart:
the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever:
the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
Dear brother, fortify your mind (the helmet of salvation) against the insinuations of the wicked one.

Thanks for your irenical answer to my "near irreverence." Really. I will not add any more to what I have said except that a) I do not for one minute think that every single person will be saved at any time while the Church is on earth. And, b) although I am a lightweight theologically speaking, many giants of the past have held similar hopes to mine, with a lot more assurance of their view than I have. I am thinking just now of Jonathan Edwards' History of Redemption, for example.

Thanks again for replying and that in a polite way.

Ed
 
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sovereigngrace

Puritan Board Freshman
Revelation 20:1‭-‬3 (ESV)‬‬
"Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him so that he might not deceive the nations any longer until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be released for a little while.
Hyperbole or prophecy?"

Ministers and commentators have often told me that we are living in the day of this binding of Satan. And as Spurgeon and others have said: "the devil is bound but with a long chain." And I am sure I will be told again today that we are now living in that "golden age."

Of what I said above, this is the sum.
If Jesus is said to be the savior of the whole world, and if the devil is said to be bound in such a way that the nations of the world can no longer be deceived, then it seems to me that the Bible and its author God is given to wild exaggeration. I ask you, which of all the nations in the world appear to you as being undeceived?

The Bible does not say that Satan is bound from doing any evil. It only says that Satan is bound from deceiving the ethnos (Gentiles). Satan cannot deceive the nations as a collective whole - as he did before the cross. Satan is spiritually curtailed from stopping the advance of the great commission. He can deceive individuals who are foolish enough to put their ears to his lies, but he cannot stop the overall invasion of his territory since the cross. Before the cross the Gentiles sat in darkness, after the cross they were enlightened.

Since Christ’s first appearing, the focus of the Gospel was related to a spiritual Kingdom rather than the physical nation of Israel. Jesus said, this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all ethnos (Strong’s 1484) nations; and then shall the end come (Matthew 24:14). Notably, since Christ’s first appearing, the focus of the Gospel has related to a spiritual kingdom, rather than the physical nation of Israel. The ancient heathenism that once engulfed all nations was quickly overthrown wherever this gospel was proclaimed, and light, hope and peace sprang up.

The cross, therefore, divested Satan of his extensive power whereby he was able to deceive all nations. The high-priestly ministry of Christ in heaven and the influence and obedience of His body – the Church – were the instruments to fulfil this. The detail of the book of Acts is a living testimony to the change that occurred since Calvary. Satan’s global deception was now over. The nations would now be offered the truth in the way Israel once did, however, like that privileged nation in the Old Testament; this didn’t guarantee the fact that they would receive it. No, rather, it would be offered to them on a worldwide scale.

Genesis 3:15, Matthew 12:22-29, Mark 3:11, 23-27, Luke 10:18-19, Luke 11:20-22, John 16:11, Colossians 2:13-15, Hebrews 2:14-15, I John 3:8, Revelation 9:1-11 and Revelation 20:2 depict Satan as bound, injured, defeated, incapacitated, immobilized, divested of power, disarmed, brought to naught, undone, stripped, judged and spiritually imprisoned through Christ's sinless life, atoning death and triumphant resurrection. As a result of this, John 12:31-33 and Revelation 12:9-13 records Satan being eternally banished from heaven, along with his demonic angels.

Because Christ’s mission was fully accomplished, Revelation 5:5 affirms: “behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed” Jesus testifies in Revelation 3:21: “I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” Christ now possesses all power and authority (Matthew 28:18). Christ now holds supreme power over the kingdom of darkness. Jesus testified in Revelation 1:18: “I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys (or authority) of hell (Hades) and of death.” 1 Peter 3:22 shows that Christ, “who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God (now!!!); angels and authorities and powers being

made subject unto him.” There is nothing that is not under His feet (1 Corinthians 15:27-28, Ephesians 1:17-23, Colossians 1:15-17 and Hebrews 1:1-3). He opens and no man shuts, He shuts and no man opens (Revelation 3:7).

Because Christ overcame, Satan and his minions are now restrained by spiritual chains in a spiritual prison (2 Peter 2:4, Jude v 6, Revelation 9:1-11 and Revelation 20:3). While there is no direct Scripture that show the actual moment when the beast is cast into the abyss, Revelation 11:7-9 and Revelation 17:7-8 show him located there during the intra-Advent period.

Scripture shows the abyss being opened near the end whereupon Satan and his demons are released from their spiritual restraint (Revelation 9:1-11 and Revelation 20:7). This parallels with the beast also rising from the abyss (Revelation 11:7 and Revelation 17:8). This corresponds with the restraint being taken off the mystery of iniquity in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 before Christ’s return.

Daniel 7:9-11, 2 Thessalonians 2:8 and Revelation 19:19-20 show the beast being obliterated at the second coming. Isaiah 26:19-27:1 and Revelation 20:10–14 show this to be the same time when Satan is finally destroyed.

This all proves that Revelation 20 runs from Christ’s first resurrection till the second coming.

Some salient questions:

Do you believe Satan and his minions are physical beings?
Is the dragon in Revelation 20:2 a literal physical dragon?
Is the serpent in Revelation 20:2 a literal physical serpent?
Is the key mentioned in Revelation 20:1 a literal metal door key?
Is the chain mentioned in Revelation 20:1 a literal metal chain?
Is the prison mentioned in Revelation 20:7 a literal brick prison?
Do you believe demons need to be detained in a literal physical prison with literal metal chains in order to be restrained?
Does imprisonment mean immobility?
Does it mean a prisoner cannot do harm?
Can a dog on a chain walk or roam about?
Can a prisoner in a prison walk or roam about?
Does a prisoner have the ability to kill, steal, destroy, rape and embezzle in prison?
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
This all proves that Revelation 20 runs from Christ’s first resurrection till the second coming.

Some salient questions:

  1. Do you believe Satan and his minions are physical beings?
  2. Is the dragon in Revelation 20:2 a literal physical dragon?
  3. Is the serpent in Revelation 20:2 a literal physical serpent?
  4. Is the key mentioned in Revelation 20:1 a literal metal door key?
  5. Is the chain mentioned in Revelation 20:1 a literal metal chain?
  6. Is the prison mentioned in Revelation 20:7 a literal brick prison?
  7. Do you believe demons need to be detained in a literal physical prison with literal metal chains in order to be restrained?
  8. Does imprisonment mean immobility?
  9. Does it mean a prisoner cannot do harm?
  10. Can a dog on a chain walk or roam about?
  11. Can a prisoner in a prison walk or roam about?
  12. Does a prisoner have the ability to kill, steal, destroy, rape, and embezzle in prison?

First, Thank you, Pastor Paul, for the time and effort you spent on your answer. I am honored that you took what I said serious enough to spend as much time as you did on your post.

Although many of your questions seem rhetorical, I will answer them. I numbered them for easy reference.

Question 1-7 - Answer: No.
Questions 8-9 - Answer: No. Not in our human experience.
Question 10 - Answer: Yes.
Questions 11-12 - Answer: In our experience on Earth, Yes.


Comment on your first paragraph. - I think some make too much of the word ἔθνος and its plural ἔθνη as if it can only mean Gentiles when I think the context can mean nation-states also. Just like the Hebrew 'goy' and the plural 'goyim' in the Old Testament can involve people, but in the vast majority of cases, it means nation-states. Given the myriad of prophecies in the Old Testament, where nation is used, it means the conversion of enough individuals that will then declare constitutionally themselves a Christian state. Without this goal and hope, I think the Great Commission is reduced to suit our present experience.

Anyway, since the Church, even considering just the Reformed, has not yet raised a single eschatological view to confessional status. I think alternate views should be listened to. The majority view these days is Amill–which is not surprising in light of the present state of the world–which has not gained universal confessional authority. My contention, simply stated, is that there are many statements in the Bible that could suggest a much higher expectation than is prevalent in this moment of time. Has there been progress since the 500 witnesses to the resurrected Christ to this present day? What teaches us that it is inevitable that we can expect little more. Yeh, many Amills expect things to decline from now on. Do you "know" that we do not yet have10,000 years of growth ahead of us.

Daniel 2:31-35
[Where we know for certain that the prophecy is dealing with nations as nation-states and not just the people who are citizens.]

31 "You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening.
32 The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, 33its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay.
34 As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces.35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.​
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
Post mil loneliness, eh?

Hub went post mil about 5 years ago. I think he's read every available scholar on it. In terms of people we know in the real world, he is alone.

I am sympathetic and have listened to him at great length, and read bits of various post mils both centuries old and modern, but I still lean amil....although optimistic for great revival. We have enormous theological unity in our marriage, but not on this.

I just don't think it is fully clear. All of your questions and points are good ones....but so are the amils. In fact I've read some decent exegesis by historic premils way smarter than me. (let me be clear I regard Dispensationalists as in great deception).

I think you should hold onto your vision tightly because it enables you to pray with faith for the Lord to move mightily in the future. But be open to being wrong because it just is not that clear among Reformed scholars. And remember that Elijah felt alone but there were 7,000 who were like him.

Don't get so surprised at criticism. Post mil is one of those things where other Christians think you have gone off the deep end. If they never heard of it and don't understand it they can't wrap their minds around your thinking.

You might enjoy subscribing to Chalcedon. Selbrede and Mark Rushdooney put out some excellent post mil articles sometimes. I may end up post mil one of these days, lol.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
I just don't think it is fully clear. All of your questions and points are good ones....but so are the amils. In fact I've read some decent exegesis by historic premils way smarter than me. (let me be clear I regard Dispensationalists as in great deception).

I think you should hold onto your vision tightly because it enables you to pray with faith for the Lord to move mightily in the future. But be open to being wrong because it just is not that clear among Reformed scholars. And remember that Elijah felt alone but there were 7,000 who were like him.

Thank for your gentle words and helpful thoughts. Let me be very clear on one point. I am not at all sure that my hope is definitely right. I often pray that if I am wrong about the future just do some good with my prayers anyway. It is incredible enough to think of what the Lord has done for my soul. I would never knowingly stubbornly hold a doctrine that the Church had not Confessed. (Although the Westminster and Savoy confessions go pretty far in my direction.)

It's just that many Amills remind me of a true story from an OPC church I was a member of. Please bear with me. We bought a piece of property hoping to build a new meeting place in the not too distant future. But not too long afterward, roadblocks started to come up. Building code restrictions required that were way over our budget. After several years, the church decided against building on that lot and put it on the market. Check out this math. We bought the property for about $80 thousand and paid engineering fees to get a construction plan approved. At that time the market was depressed, and we eventually had to sell the property for somewhere around $45 thousand. The sale was announced at the beginning of our Wednesday evening prayer meeting. One after the another voiced thanksgiving for the sale. But I thought something was wrong. I felt that instead of thanking God for the sale, shouldn't we be asking the Lord what we did wrong to suffer such a loss? Should we not examine our hearts before God seek forgiveness etc.

That's how I feel when someone tells me of the beautiful oneness that Christians display to the world. Nevermind that the last person who told me this could not have allowed me to be a member of his church because I was baptized the wrong way.

Some have what I call a remnant mentality, thinking that the number of Christians who follow the Lamb is on the smallish side and probably declining as we aproach the end. But then I read in the Bible of John's vision in Revelation 7 where, after the sealing of the 144,000 (converted Jews??), he was blown away with a wondrous sight. "After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb."
 

richardnz

Puritan Board Freshman
The original post questions raise the problem of deciding when “all” means “every single one without exception” and when it means something less. Many a commentator has struggled with this question and I have noted that in each case it requires wider theological and practical considerations in order to decide which is the best interpretation.

For example Matt. 3:5-6 “Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.” I do not think anyone thinks it was every man, woman and child that went, but it conveys the idea of a massive number going to the Jordan to meet John.

When it says in Phil 2:10 ..”That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” it cannot mean that every person will be saved but it certainly implies that the number will be massive.

There is also the “already but not yet” aspect to many of the characteristics of the kingdom. I Cor 15:25 “For he must reign, till he has put all enemies under his feet.” It does not fit well with our use of English to say that someone is reigning but has not yet subdued everyone.

I would call myself an Amillenniallist because I believe the 1000 years is the church age. I also believe that the OT teaches that there will be a vast number saved after Christ starts his reign. It seems to me that the NT teaches this also. Something I would like to see is a summary of all the OT and NT verses that teach that there is a large number that are saved.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
Something I would like to see is a summary of all the OT and NT verses that teach that there is a large number that are saved.

As a preparatory for this study, you might start with:

Are They Few that Be Saved?
By Benjamin B. Warfield, D. D., Ll. D., Litt. D

As to the use of the word 'all' in Scripture, I think it seldom means every single person. But it never means a small remnant.
Like in Ezekial's vision of the Water of Life flowing from the temple that gets deeper and deeper as it flows through the whole world. "For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes," But even in this triumphant vision there is a dark side. There will still be a few holdouts, "But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt." Small groups here and there will hold out against the water of life. But like I said 'all' never means just a remnant, or a few, that will be saved. Christ is the Savior of the world can't imply that He is the Saviour of comparatively few. In this and like cases All means most.

I have to go for now, so thanks.

Ed
 
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Mark Hettler

Puritan Board Freshman
Hub went post mil about 5 years ago. I think he's read every available scholar on it. In terms of people we know in the real world, he is alone.

"Hub" checking in here. I began looking into postmillennialism six or seven years ago as a result of reading Edwards' humble attempt. But that impacted me not so much intellectually as inspirationally, as I was inspired to pray along the lines of the full title, "An humble attempt to promote explicit agreement and visible union of God's people in extraordinary prayer for the revival of religion and the advancement of Christ's Kingdom on earth, pursuant to Scripture-promises and prophecies concerning the last time." In terms of reconciling intellect with inspiration in that area, Greg Bahnsen's "Why am I a postmillennialist?" (http://www.cmfnow.com/whyamiapostmillennialist.aspx) was an early influence.

But over the years that have followed, probably the biggest influence on my thinking in this area has been B.B. Warfield. While technically an amillennialist, in that he doesn't believe that the thousand years of Revelation 20 refer to an earthly millennium, his views of the period of time between the two comings of Christ are virtually identical with postmillennialism. As I've said in other contexts, he may not have been a postmillennialist, but he was definitely a "post-golden-ager."

But apart from future expectation, where Warfield has impacted me the most is in terms of the church's mission. As he says in "The Gospel and the Second Coming" (http://www.sovereignpotter.com/BB_Warfield_The_Gospel_And_The_Second_Coming.html, among other places):
It cannot be said, indeed, that the mere command to the Church to disciple all nations carries with it as a necessary implication that, before time ceases, all the nations shall have been actually discipled. This much, however, is certainly included in the command: That the goal set before the Church in its evangelistic work, the object for which it is to labor, and the end by the accomplishment of which alone its task may be fulfilled, is ''the discipling of all nations.'' Under this commission the Church cannot set itself a lighter task or content itself with a lesser achievement.

In other words, our task is not merely to preach the Gospel, it is to disciple the nations. Not merely to make disciples "out of" the nations - there is no prepositional phrase in the original Greek, rather "nations" is itself the direct object. And until the nations have been discipled - brought under the Lordship of Christ - our task is not complete. We cannot content ourselves that all the nations except a few unreached people groups have heard the Gospel; we must teach the hearers to observe - live according to - ALL that Christ has commanded regarding every aspect of individual and national life. If the Lord chooses to return before that task is complete, that is His prerogative, but until then, we cannot rest on the laurels of any lesser achievement.
 
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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hello Mark,

The saddest thing about Warfield’s view, as shown in the brief article you linked to, “The Gospel and the Second Coming”, is that it leads men to think we—the church—shall by Christ’s Spirit conquer the unbelief of the whole (the entire) world, and when we see this not happening, but the saints being slaughtered and the faith increasingly outlawed, our faith is then shaken, as witnessed by Ed’s anguished questions above.

To BBW’s credit he does not posit a future “golden age” beyond the age we’re now in (the postmil), neither an additional literal 1,000 years different than the one we’re in wherein peace and prosperity shall reign (the premil), but erroneously, he—full of optimism—instead posited this present church age would see “nothing less than a worldwide salvation” before the Lord returns at His second coming. And this accomplished by our—the church’s—teaching / discipling all nations (Matt 28:19, 20).

The assumption of Warfield, and of you, Mark, is that all those in the nations would be willing to continue hearing the Gospel till the end of the age. Psalm 2:1, 2, 3 to the contrary says this:

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.​

In Psa 2:9, respecting those who would not submit to the Son, Messiah has the LORD say, “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” It is this we see in Revelation 19:11-21, where it is the “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” Himself who smites the nations with a rod of iron, having an angel crying to the fowls of the earth to come to the supper of the great God on the field of slaughter—His vengeance on the idolaters and the vicious persecutors of His bride.

But Warfield says this depiction of the final “battle of that great day of God Almighty” (Rev 16:14, 16), shown also in Rev 19, is instead a picture of the “conquering church”, and not Christ Himself.

Paul minces no words when he characterizes this entire church age as, “this present evil world” (Gal 1:4); John in 1 John 5:19 concurs, saying, “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.”

Were Warfield alive on the earth today to witness the overrunning of the world with violence, open occult warfare emerging through willing human practitioners, and the growing madness of all humankind, he would probably weep. His hope was misplaced.

The song of victory nonetheless wells up in the faithful local churches worldwide—blood dripping in many of them—as they praise the Lamb, from whose love they cannot be separated. Of them it is written, “And they overcame him [the devil] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death” (Rev 12:11).
 

Mark Hettler

Puritan Board Freshman
The assumption of Warfield, and of you, Mark, is that all those in the nations would be willing to continue hearing the Gospel till the end of the age.
Steve, thanks for your response. I don't think either of us are in a position to speculate as to how Warfield would react to the state of the world today. But in any event, that wasn't my main point. My main point is that Warfield, in addition to his optimistic expectation, also said that even if we don't share in that optimism, i.e. even if we don't believe that the Lord has promised that the nations WILL in fact be discipled, we still need to base our understanding of the church's task not on what has been promised but on what has been commanded; and the command is nothing less than to disciple the nations. So until the nations have in fact been discipled, we have work left to be done. We can't just toss in the towel and say "that's never going to happen;" we need to apply ourselves to that task. And if we see regress rather than progress, we need to not resign ourselves that failure in achieving that goal is inevitable, but redouble our efforts.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I would agree with that, Mark—that we should continue to both teach and disciple the nations of the world, keeping in mind that many of the nations have been discipled over the past near-two thousand years, and many of these nations that now exist are the descendants of those earlier nations, the children of ancestors who both received the Gospel and who rejected it. Even so, we should continue to preach and teach all that we can.

Only the Lord knows when the missionary task will be completed, and the last of the saints should be saved (Rev 6:10,11; cf 2 Pet 3:9), even if under fire at that moment, and giving up their lives.

There is coming a time when the preaching and teaching of the Gospel will be outlawed—forbidden—and the churches disbanded and gone underground, as is even the case in some nations at present. We can see from the final global assault upon the church,

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. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever (Rev 20:7,8,9,10),​

that the time will come when all who are true children of God will be marked for death—for those who are true have not hidden it, and are generally known to the surrounding communities.

Another cameo of the witnessing church is seen in Revelation 11:7-12,

And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.

And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.​

There shall come a time when the legal testimony of the witnessing church is finished, and the beast shall loose his hordes against them, in the midst of which the Lord shall return, call His up to Himself, and destroy the wicked, seen clearly again in Rev 6:12-17.

We are not only called to bear this witness, and teach those who will come to Christ among all the nations, but also to disciple those who do come so they are able to stand against the persecution.

As an open-air preacher with my church, I see many who pass by, despising the Gospel. Both in Africa and in the Middle East I have discipled men and women to live well and to die well in Christ. I’m getting old now, but still have a few miles left on this breaking-down chassis, and may the Lord grant I quit myself like a man till the end.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
The saddest thing about Warfield’s view, as shown in the brief article you linked to, “The Gospel and the Second Coming”, is that it leads men to think we—the church—shall by Christ’s Spirit conquer the unbelief of the whole (the entire) world, and when we see this not happening, but the saints being slaughtered and the faith increasingly outlawed, our faith is then shaken, as witnessed by Ed’s anguished questions above.

Hello again Steve,

You do talk as if you unquestionably believe this scenario or you would not speak as you do. I remind you again that I hold my view tentatively until and unless the Church unitedly confesses it as truth. Your contrary interpretation of Psalm 2 is corrected by reading the rest of the Psalm. It's part of the process as many many other places in Scripture discribe it. And another thing, as I have said, I do not in my wildest dreams think the world will be wholly Christianized. As it says in Ezekial 47, one of my favorite chapters on the future, where the water of life flowing from the Temple, (Christ) getting deeper and wider until it causes the very sea (world, gentiles) to become fresh. Even then in the best of the best of times, it is said, "But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt." (v. 11)

Please explain how you know that it is all downhill from here? There's been loads of progress over the past 2,000 years. Do you know that we do not have 20 or even 100 thousand years of development before the final apostasy?
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
as witnessed by Ed’s anguished questions above.

Steve,

"Anguished?" - Really? After all I said to explain that my position is the exact oposite? Emotional? Yes! I feel like Joshuah and Caleb must as they confronted the ten spies that brought an evil report of the Promised Land. (Numbers 13) "But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, "Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it." (v. 30) But, the majority won the day, and they disheartened the entire congregation. (Numbers 14) We all know what followed: 1) The Lord was so angry at the rank unbelief and rebellion of the people that He intended to kill them, until, 2) Moses interceded for the people, and God postponed His sentence and decreed that 600,000 of the men over 20 would never see the Land of Promise but would die in the wilderness. 3) In the nery midsts of this unbelief and judgment the Lord declared, "But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord." (Numbers 14:21) and, 4) But the ten spies that brought the evil report God killed on the spot.

I will bow out of this discussion after this last post. I obviously missed the mark I for which I aimed. I am sorry for any misunderstanding I may have caused.

Ed
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hello again, Ed,

And I’m sorry if I misunderstood you! If the below quote from post #1 is not essentially anguished doubting, then it must instead be sarcasm toward those who differ with you and postmillennialism:

“If the oneness of Christians and the binding of Satan at this present time are as good as it gets then, I wonder what else God is exaggerating? I mean, is heaven really as good as the Bible makes it out to be? Is God really all-powerful? Is He as glorious as the Bible characterizes Him? Is the Great Commission really all that great after all? One has to wonder where the hyperbole ends and where reality begins.”​

----

Ed, you said, “You do talk as if you unquestionably believe this scenario [the amil view] or you would not speak as you do.”

That is correct. Otherwise I could not preach or teach on it as I have the past near-12 years. In 2007 I realized I did not understand the minutiae of Revelation, its dynamics and the interrelatedness of its parts, so I began an intensive study of the book (I had planted and was pastoring a church in Cyprus at the time). I was already convinced of the amil view (as both post and pre mil greatly lacked), but my understanding had no depth. I gathered the best Reformed commentaries I could find (the church had a liberal book fund for the pastor) and immersed myself in them.

Most doctrines of Scripture I “unquestionably believe”—else how could I preach on them?—and those I am uncertain regarding I ponder quietly. “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (1 Cor 14:8)

The grievous thing about current views on Revelation (and eschatology generally) is that so much disinformation and bad teaching have filled the air that many simply throw up their hands in frustration with regard to studying, sorting through, and adequately comprehending it. The reason I pressed on and still press on in the matter is because we are in the times it (and the rest of Scripture) speaks of pertaining to the end of the last days, and—just as the Jews had great need of Daniel’s prophecies regarding the ravaging of Israel by Antiochus Epiphanes, that they not lose heart and faith—even so will we need all of God’s word, including Revelation, in the terrible times to come upon us and our families. What, are only our brethren in Islamic, Communist, and other persecuting nations to undergo refining in the fire, and not we in the wealthy and wise West? Of all, we perhaps need it more than most, so soft and complacent have many of us become.

The bride of Christ will show herself glorious in her faithfulness to her Husband and King, for His Spirit will be the light and strength of her heart—“…when all around [her] soul gives way, He then is all [her] hope and stay”.

Here is a great, brief, and easy to understand primer on the issue: Christ’s Spiritual Kingdom: A Defense of Reformed Amillennialism, by David J. Engelsma. DJE is an aggressive defender of Amillennialism, seeing it as vital. To many, it is just another doctrine.

Engelsma also has a shorter version of the book online: https://standardbearer.rfpa.org/search/results/field_article_series:51962

Or here
 

Jeri Tanner

Administrator
Staff member
I will stumble and bumble around in trying to say this, but maybe some who hold to the establishment principle can help here. I can’t help but think of this as I am reading several accounts of the Scottish church, including the great days surrounding Westminster and the unity that briefly and wondrously prevailed in Scotland for that brief moment. So I’m positing that the Christian magistrate- all in authority, all kings and judges of the earth- have a role to play in the visible unity that Christ was obviously (I think!?) praying for in John 17. The invisible church does have the unity of being in Christ. But I’m asking/suggesting that Christ does have in mind a visible unity...?

The Christian magistrate, in that brief shining moment of time in Scotland, recognized himself and his role as being a church member with special power given to him in the civil realm to nurture Christ’s interests, and who gloried in Christ being the head of His church, just as every other member did. I think of 1 Timothy 2:1-6: “I exhort therefore that first of all supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”

That this may be God’s plan again in the future- great days of Reformation and revival with great success for the gospel and days of great unity in the visible church- doesn’t necessarily preclude great times of suffering and persecution I would think? Not if church history teaches us anything...

Anyway, the churches and Christians in their private prayers should be praying with expectation for reformation and revival. I am often struck that Paul says in the 1st Timothy passage that public prayer for the magistrate is of first importance, and tells us what this prayer is meant to provide for the church and indeed for the world- and yet which churches take this to heart on the Lord’s day? Magistrates are to kiss the Son, and rule so that the church may enjoy peace from enemies who would subvert and impede the gospel going forth.
 
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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hello Jeri,

Thanks for your thoughts on the topic! I note that the revised (American) WCF used by the OPC and PCA differs in Chapter 23.3, “On the Civil Magistrate”, than the original 1646 version, partly to negate the establishment principle here in America due to our political principles. Nowhere in the world, I think, would the 1646-47 view be feasible now, in great measure due to the distrust of the civil magistrate (CM) involving himself in matters spiritual and ecclesial. Were we in such a land and time where a godly CM protected the church that might be good, but then we’d have to ask, “Which church?” For there’d likely be churches discriminated against.

As for us here in the U.S., we live in Babylon, the final manifestation of which does not yet have blood dripping from its mouth (Rev 17:6), yet it is spewing all manner of filth, blasphemy, and anarchy across the land, and the people love to have it so.

I think it a judgment of the LORD in these latter days of the end time that we have the government we do, with the internal impasses between the two power blocks rendering the government unable to function as a unified and effective entity. We are increasingly a polarized people, a once-great nation in accelerated decline, violence now defining power that was earlier in the hands of the voters. As I said, it is a judgment upon this land, which even the genuinely godly among them will suffer, even as we benefited from the perks of living here.

Yes, there will be optimists who say, “This is cyclic, and good times (spiritually and politically speaking) will return, and the nations will eventually—even if it takes tens of thousands of years to manifest—become ‘Christianized’ and honor God, at least outwardly.” This despite the clear teaching of NT Scripture of this being an evil age up to the very end when the LORD destroys the massive persecuting world system seeking to crush and exterminate His precious bride. The bride will shine, for His Spirit keeps her intact, but the world will burn, first with hatred of her, and then with the deserved destruction meted upon her by the King.

The reason I harp upon these things is that the churches (especially its pastors and elders) may take to heart that our “domestic tranquility” is very soon coming to an end, and we and our families—our little children and our women and the aged—may prepare for times we Americans have never known before, times of unspeakable atrocities and suffering; believers in other lands have indeed known them, but not us. Women and children and the aged there are prepared, but we have gotten accustomed to ease, safety, and plenty.

This is partly due to the teaching that we shall see a golden age before the Lord returns. But it is not true, and has led us to our present blindness.

The one primary thing I seek to teach in the church is that we must learn to walk in real holiness, and have such a walk with Jesus Christ that we—children and all—can draw upon Him to sustain us when our hour of trial arrives. We need to be prepared.
 
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