View of Christ's Future Kingdom
By Tim LaHaye, D.Min., Litt.D.
President, Tim LaHaye Ministries/Founder, Pre-Trib Research Center, El Cajon, California
One future event which many Christians anticipate is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to this earth where He will "rule and reign" in power and great glory.
The Second Coming was taught by the apostles, believed by the early Church and has been acknowledged by all the creeds and councils of Christendom. However, there
is little agreement concerning the timing of His coming.
Since the Fourth Century, an increasing number of people have interpreted Christ's Kingdom as a spiritual experience already taking place. According to this view,
known as amillennialism, the book of Revelation is a collection of spiritual experiences of the past. This position is still held today by many Catholics and
some reformed Protestants.
Amillennialism, promoted by Augustine in the Fourth Century, has been the favored eschatological position in the Catholic Church for the past 1600 years.
Amillennialists interpret the Millennium as the Church Age from Pentecost to the Second Coming; the thousand years, therefore, is symbolic of a much longer
period. They also believe Christ bound Satan during His earthly ministry, the first resurrection is the new birth and Christ will physically return in glory to
judge, but this Second Coming will begin eternity, not the Millennium. Currently, the Kingdom is the spiritual presence of the risen Christ in the physical Church.
Amillennialists believe unfulfilled Old Testament prophecies are being fulfilled spiritually through the Church.
In the 16th Century, a new theory known as postmillennialism was developed, which states the world will largely be converted to Christianity and work to prepare a
Christianized world for Christ's return. Although this view was given some impetus during the great revival movements of John and Charles Wesley, Charles Finney, others,
and was popular before the turn of the 20th Century, it has been almost eliminated due to the catastrophic results of two world wars, the Great Depression and an
overwhelming rise in moral decay. Postmillennialism has experienced limited resurgence among a group of intellectuals known as theonomists. One theology professor
I remember from years ago observed, "The postmillennialist does not have a post to lean on. Many of those who once held the postmillennial view have changed to
the amillennial position."
Most postmillennialists believe the Millennium is not a literal one thousand year reign of Christ, but a period of time which begins during the Church Age and extends
to the Second Coming. The Millennium, according to postmillennialists, is that latter part of the Church Age characterized by revival, the successful permeation of the
Gospel throughout the earth. According to postmillennialists, Kingdom analogies like the mustard seed's growth into a tree, Matthew 13.31,32, and leaven leavening an
entire lump, Matthew 13.33, are said to imply Christ returns to a world which has responded to the Gospel. Therefore, to postmillennialists, the Church's call to
conquer unbelief, therefore, is accompanied by the assurance it will succeed without Jesus' physical presence and Christ will return when faith reigns supreme in
the world. Postmillennial writing diminished after World War II, but there is a renewed interest today which is often conjoined with preterism, the belief most
prophecies were fulfilled at the time of Jerusalem's destruction in 70 A.D.
The evangelical church of today interprets the Bible literally agrees with the early Church fathers in seeing Christ's coming before the establishment of His Kingdom,
which will last one thousand years.
Premillennialists believe Christ will return at the end of the Church Age to establish a physical Kingdom on earth for a literal thousand years. Most premillennialists
believe the return of Christ is preceded by the Seventieth Week of Years of Daniel 9.27, which includes a seven-year Tribulation. Premillennialists disagree as to whether
the Church will be raptured before, pretribulationalism, in the middle of or after the Tribulation. Dispensational premillennialists do not hold Old Testament promises to
Israel apply to the Church, but rather the nation of Israel will one day be restored and converted to faith in Christ during the Tribulation.
Reasons for Accepting the Premillennial View. There are many reasons one should accept the premillennial view of our Lord's return to this earth. Dr. Clarence Larkin in
his masterful book Dispensational Truth, offers the following evidences:
- When Christ comes, He will raise the dead, but the righteous dead are to be raised before the Millennium so they may reign with Christ during the
1,000 years, hence there can be no Millennium before Christ comes, Revelation 20.5.
- When Christ comes, He will separate the tares from the wheat, but as the Millennium is a period of universal righteousness, the separation of the
tares and wheat must take place before the Millennium. Therefore, there can be no Millennium before Christ comes, Matthew 13.40-43.
- When Christ comes, Satan shall be bound, but as Satan is to be bound during the Millennium, there can be no Millennium until Christ comes,
- When Christ comes, the antiChrist is to be destroyed, but as the antiChrist is to come before the Millennium, there can be no Millennium until
Christ comes, 2 Thessalonians 2.8 and Revelation 19.20.
- When Christ comes, the Jews are to be restored to their own land, but as they are to be restored to their own land before the Millennium, there
can be no Millennium before Christ comes, Ezekiel 36.24-28; Revelation 1.7; Zechariah 12.10.
- When Christ comes, it will be unexpectedly and we are commanded to watch lest He take us unawares. Now if He is not coming until after the Millennium
and the Millennium is not yet here, why are we commanded to watch for an event which is more than one thousand years away?
These are only some of the reasons why we should anticipate the coming of Christ before the Millennium.
After Satan is bound, Christ will rule with His saints for one thousand years. A literal interpretation of Scripture will invariably point one to the premillennial return of
Christ to the earth. Revelation 19 pictures Christ coming literally to the earth, slaying the antiChrist, but casting him alive into the lake of fire.
From Tim LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible - King James Version
Published by AMG Publishers, 2000. Used with permission.