Friday, August 26, 2022

Dispensationalism Is a Continuity System

 by Michael J Vlach

Dispensationalism primarily is a CONTINUITY system since it believes the covenants and promises of the Old Testament will be fulfilled literally through the two comings of Jesus. With Dispensationalism, the New Testament maintains the Old Testament expectations. It does not reinterpret or transcend the Old Testament expectations. What was promised in the OT concerning earth, land, Israel, nations, the animal kingdom, Day of the Lord, an earthly kingdom, etc., will be fulfilled literally in a way continuous with what the inspired OT authors intended.
Yes, Dispensationalism believes in certain discontinuities like the church is not Israel and that Christians are now under the New Covenant, not the Mosaic Covenant. But overall, Dispensationalism is a continuity system, more so than the other evangelical systems which see the NT reinterpreting or transcending OT expectations.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Where Premillennialism and Postmillennialism Agree Against Amillennialism

 by Michael J. Vlach

A brief theology nugget about millennial views: 

Premillennialism and Postmillennialism agree on one thing against Amillennialism. While Amillennialism says Jesus' millennial kingdom is only a spiritual kingdom, both Premill and Postmill see Jesus' millennial kingdom as much more. Both believe Jesus' millennial kingdom transforms society and creation too.
In other words, Premill and Postmill believe Jesus' kingdom includes but involves more than just human salvation and spiritual realities. Earth and its political/societal structures are transformed and function for God's purposes. This is related to the rule and subdue mandate in Genesis 1:26-28.
Premill and Postmill disagree when this transformation occurs. Postmill says it happens before Jesus returns while He is in Heaven. And Premill says the transformation of all things occurs after Jesus comes again when He reigns from and over the earth. But the impact of Jesus' millennial kingdom is extensive and widespread with both the Premill and Postmill views.
I personally believe Premill has a much stronger case that the restoration of all things can only happen when Jesus reigns on the earth. But to restate, both Premill and Postmill agree against Amillennialism that Jesus' kingdom is much more than just spiritual and more than just salvation from sin. Of the three millennial views Amillennialism offers the weakest millennial kingdom of Jesus since it limits Jesus' kingdom to spiritual salvation and spiritual matters.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

A Note on God's Purposes

In class recently, we started discussion on the doctrine of anthropology (man). I noted that before sin and salvation became an issue, man was tasked to fill, rule, and subdue the earth for God's glory (Gen. 1:26-28). Thus, a successful kingdom rule over the earth by man as mediator is foundational to God's purposes. This is a good clue that a kingdom rule over creation is the primary thing God is pursuing. 

Redemption of people is a big and wonderful theme in Scripture, but it fits under God's kingdom purposes. Redemption/salvation is not an end in itself. It is a means in God's purposes for both relationship (with God and people) and function (rule and subdue the earth).

For a theological system to be comprehensive it must do more than address salvation, as important as that is. It must adequately account for the 'kingdom over the earth' theme in Scripture.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Theology Nugget About Millennial Views

 A theology nugget about millennial views: 

Premillennialism and Postmillennialism actually agree on one thing against Amillennialism. While Amillennialism says Jesus' millennial kingdom is only a spiritual kingdom, both Premill and Postmill see Jesus' kingdom as much more. Both believe Jesus' millennial kingdom transforms society and creation too.

In other words, Premill and Postmill believe Jesus' kingdom includes but involves more than just human salvation and spiritual realities. Earth and its political/societal structures are transformed and function for God's purposes.
Premill and Postmill disagree when this transformation occurs. Postmill says it happens before Jesus returns while He is in Heaven. And Premill says the transformation of all things occurs after Jesus comes again when He reigns from and over the earth. But the impact of Jesus' millennial kingdom is extensive and widespread with both Premill and Postmill.
I personally believe Premill has a much stronger case that the restoration of all things can only happen when Jesus reigns on the earth. But to restate, both Premill and Postmill agree against Amillennialism that Jesus' kingdom is much more than just spiritual and more than just salvation from sin.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Genesis 1 and the Roots of Premillennialism

 

The case for Premillennialism does not begin in Revelation 20—it starts in Genesis 1. How so? Remember that Premillennialism consists of four elements: (1) a future kingdom; (2) an earthly kingdom; (3) a kingdom of the Messiah who represents man; and (4) a kingdom that is 1000 years in duration.

To see how Premillennialism relates to Genesis 1 we need to look at Genesis 1:26–28:

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

What is described in this passage relates to points 1, 2, and 3 above—a future kingdom, an earthly kingdom, and a kingdom of man who rules as God’s mediator. In short, Genesis 1:26-28 teaches that man, as represented by Adam, is to “fill,” “rule,” and “subdue” the earth. The concepts of “rule” (radah) and “subdue” [kabash] have strong king and kingdom implications. These are forceful terms used of kings in the Old Testament. Man is tasked to by God to forcefully rule the earth. The command for Adam and Eve to “fill the earth” means that the commands to rule and subdue will also apply to the descendants of the first couple.

So what does this mean and how does it relate to Premillennialism? God created man in His image to rule and subdue the earth as God’s mediator. To be more specific, man was created to rule from and over the earth. Man was not created to reign from heaven over heaven or from heaven over a spiritual realm. Nor was man tasked to reign over the earth from heaven. No, man was created to rule from the earth and over the earth. We could call this a “boots-on-the-ground kingdom.” Psalm 115:16 states, “The heavens are the heavens of the LORD, but the earth He has given to the sons of men.”

Adam, as representative of mankind, sinned and failed the kingdom mandate (see Gen. 3). Man can only rule successfully for God’s glory while being in a right relationship with God. But that was ruined with the Fall. Man’s destiny to rule the earth was not removed, but he cannot do it successfully while alienated from God. Man cannot succeed with sin and the curse present.

Mankind ever since, including the theocracy of Israel, failed to rule and subdue the earth successfully. But God never abandoned His plan for man to rule the earth rightly. A successful mediatorial kingdom reign of man as God’s mediator over the earth must happen! Psalm 8:4-8 reaffirms that even in a fallen world man’s right to rule the earth and its creatures remains. Hebrews 2:5-8 also says man is destined to rule “the world to come” even though now we do not yet see that occurring.

So how does this kingdom mandate happen? Jesus, the Last Adam, and perfect representative of mankind, will make it happen. He is destined to successfully rule from and over the earth to fulfill the kingdom mandate. Jesus is worthy to rule the earth because He is perfect and because of His atoning death (see Rev. 5:9-10). No other person can accomplish this.

When Jesus returns He will establish His kingdom (Matt. 25:31; Acts 3:20-21; Rev. 19:15) and rule the earth. And so too will those who are united to Jesus (see Rev. 5:10; 20:4). 

In short, Jesus will succeed from and over the realm where Adam and mankind failed. This means a successful mediatorial kingdom. When this successful reign occurs Jesus will hand the kingdom over to God the Father and the Eternal State will begin (see 1 Cor. 15:24-28). Man’s task will be successfully completed and the Eternal State will commence. This is the ultimate “Mission Accomplished!” in human history.

To come back to our original assertion—Genesis 1 is connected with Premillennialism. It does not mention “1000 years” but this passage reveals that man is destined to rule from and over the earth, which is at the heart of the premillennial view. Jesus is the One who will make it happen!

The premillennial view does indeed have roots in Genesis 1!

Michael J. Vlach is a seminary professor and author. Follow him on Twitter at @MikeVlach


Thursday, April 28, 2022

The Four Elements of Premillennialism

Just a quick note on what makes Premillennialism what it is. Premillennialism asserts there will be a future, earthly kingdom of the Messiah (Jesus) for a period of 1000 years.

There are four elements associated with Premillennialism: (1) a future kingdom; (2) an earthly kingdom; (3) a kingdom of the Messiah and (4) a kingdom that lasts for 1000 years.

I believe the first three elements are discussed in Scripture even before one looks at Revelation 20 and its mention of a 1000-year reign of Jesus and the saints.

First, that the kingdom is future is taught in passages like Matthew 6:10; 19:28; Luke 22:28-30; Acts 1:6; 2 Timothy 4:1; 2 Peter 1:11; Revelation 2:26-27; 19:15, etc.

Second, that the kingdom will be an earthly kingdom is taught in passages like Psalm 2; Psalm 72; Psalm 110; Isaiah 2:2-4; Isaiah 11; Zechariah 14:9; Matthew 5:5; 6:10; 19:28-30; 25:31; Rev. 5:10; 19:15, etc.

Third, that the kingdom is Messiah’s kingdom is taught in passages like Psalm 2; Psalm 110; Isaiah 9, 11; Luke 1:32-33; Acts 1:6, and many other texts, etc.

And then, fourth, Jesus’ kingdom is stated to last 1000 years before the Eternal State according to Revelation 20.

Note that the first three elements of Premillennialism mentioned above—(1) future, (2) earthly, and (3) Messiah’s kingdom—are well established in Scripture even before one looks at Revelation 20. 

What is new in Revelation 20 is the fourth element—that Messiah’s kingdom will last 1000 years before the Eternal State of Revelation 21–22 begins.

Hypothetically, if we did not have Revelation 20, we could still know that there would be a future, earthly, kingdom of the Messiah from other Scripture texts. What we would not know is how long Messiah’s kingdom would be before the Eternal State.

So Revelation 20 contributes to the Premillennial understanding but it is not everything there is to the premillennial view.