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"My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding." Psalm 49:3
Why Your Prophetic Position Matters
Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.
All wrong thinking is wrong thinking about God. All wrong thinking leads to wrong behavior. All wrong behavior leads to wrong consequences.
The entire Word of God is bound up in one theme, the plan and program of God through His Son Jesus Christ, Luke 24:44-48. This plan is enmeshed in the entire fabric of God’s Word from Genesis through Revelation. It is a literal plan. It is an obvious plan, it is a profound plan. Most importantly, it is a plan designed from beginning to end to extol the glories of Jesus Christ. It has been said that 2/3 of the scriptures are essentially prophecy, prophecy which is ultimately about Jesus Christ.
Three steps open the prophetic Word to us:
First, we must accept the scriptures as the inspired Word of God. That is, we must be committed to the idea that every word is equally inspired. It is not enough to believe in the popular doctrine of inerrancy. Inerrancy does not commit to the inspiration of the words, only the concepts behind the words. There is no negotiation on this point. To hold to anything less is to hold to heresy.
Secondly, we must interpret the scriptures literally, following simple common sense rules, when the Bible uses symbolism to illustrate a literal truth. The evidence for this is in the examples that the apostles gave us for their own literal interpretation. Notice the argument of singular versus literal in Galatians 3:16 over the discussion of seed.
Thirdly, the scriptures are thematic. They have an underlying theme. We interpret the scriptures through the Messiah. (Luke 24:44-48.) We admit our bias and admit our inability to place the proper value on literal passages. There will always be a need to agree to disagree on particulars because we are human. However, when we take literally God’s stated plan for Messiah as the lens through we view the Bible and we always interpret this book in terms of Jesus Christ and His stated objectives (as outlined in the Old Testament and affirmed and expanded in the New Testament) we always come out agreeing on the basic prophetic infrastructure of the Word of God. [In a technical sense, we say that we interpret the Bible literally through a Christological grid.] In other words, we impose a predisposition on our literal interpretation. We interpret according to a theme, One Theme. We assume, in advance, that we will find Jesus Christ everywhere in this book and that all the truth revealed about Him will fit into one beautiful picture.
What premillennialism represents. Premillennialism is simply an acknowledgement that God’s program for Messiah has been outlined in two phases. First, Messiah will bring justice to all the earth through the Jewish people and the restoration of Israel. Secondly, Messiah will also be a light to the nations (the Gentiles) and this global witness to the nations will occur before justice is brought to all the earth (Isaiah, chapters 40-49.) While the New Testament apostles grasped and expanded this truth in Acts (cf. chapters 13 and 15), it was the apostle Paul who received special revelation from the Lord regarding the details of this mystery age (Gal 1:12.)
These are the ABC’s of premillennialism which should not even be so labeled. It should simply be labeled Messiahism because is a simple basic commitment to the singular program of Messiah which is worked out in two phases, exactly as specified by the covenants.
We have already conceded that, due to the weakness of human flesh, we must all agree to disagree with a large dose of humility on numerous matters. That is not the Bible’s weakness, it is ours. The question on the floor is this. Where do we draw the line in agreeing and disagreeing? Clearly, we are admonished in the Word of God to both speak and defend sound doctrine (2 Tim 1:13, 1 Tim 6:3-5, and a host of others.) At the same time, we are not to “strive about words to no profit (2 Tim 2:14.) The modern mentality is to assume that sound doctrine relates to the basics of salvation and that Bible prophecy is pretty much like a set of Legos with which we may all play to our content or ignore at our pleasure. Yet, we discover the opposite in the Thessalonians epistles that were written specifically to correct behavioral problems related to an incorrect prophetic position. Notice how outspoken Christ and Paul both were in their warnings that we should let no man deceive us regarding prophetic matters (typically, Mark 13:5,6; 2 Thessalonians 2:3.)
Here is why we cannot agree to disagree on premillennialism.
1. To accept any other position than premillennialism is to reject the literal interpretation of the Word of God. Reformed theology with all its varieties and shades of millennial positions is evidence of exactly what happens when men depart from a simple literal system of interpretation.
2. To accept any other position than premillennialism is to inevitably corrupt the doctrine of the grace of Christ. It is to sentence yourself and your children to unending doctrinal confusion. That leads, of course, to no doctrinal stand at all. Remember, there is no such thing as a partial Premillennialist! When one departs from this truth, he immediately blurs all distinctions between
What happens when we do this? In varying cultures and at varying times we have reaped the horrific results of each of these departures. Perhaps, most sadly of all, is the bondage into which this system brings us, because once grace and law are mixed, in any percentage, grace is nullified and we begin to experience, in our lives the bondage and susceptibility to sin which the law imposes on us. Every single doctrinal system (bibliology, Christology, anthropology, hamartiology, ecclesiology, angelology, soteriology, and eschatology) is affected when premillennialism is abandoned.
3. The grace of God teaches us to look for and long for the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ. This is to be a daily, ongoing anticipation which produces hope and purity in our experience (Titus 2:11-13, 1 John 3:3). NO OTHER POSITION produces this vibrant, daily, living hope, though, of course, there are folks in these other systems who long for the return of Christ.
And how will a typical Reformed teacher disagree with the above? He will claim that theirs is the truly unified system; He will claim that they have the historical property rights to the issue, they will claim that premillennialism is a simplistic position, and at the same time he will claim that it is inconsistent and convoluted. There are answers to each of those claims and they deserve answers, but one will notice an underlying theme in most of those arguments. Every effort will be made to shift the discussion from the actual scriptures themselves to philosophical, rational, and historical arguments.
If I might be allowed to make one note regarding my personal convictions (a rational, historical argument!). It is my own conclusion that amillennialism is simply a step toward liberalism (Follow Canada’s evangelical history as an example.) Further, it has historically led to anti-Semitism at worst and the disenfranchisement of Israel at best. Consider the views of the late D. James Kennedy and the Knox Theological Seminary for a simple starter*. The great lovers and defenders of God’s people Israel have always been premillennialists.
Why can’t we agree to disagree? Because premillennialism is at the foundation of all that we believe and hold dear. It is a core belief, not a preference. The system of interpretation which brings it to us is the system which brings us the free gospel of the grace of Christ and insists that that gospel not be perverted from within or without. Simply stated, there are only two kinds of churches, those committed to a consistent literal hermeneutic and those who are at the whims of every scholarly pastor and teacher to whom they submit.
Prophecy is not a playground. The Lord did not say, “Do not fudge on any other doctrinal truth I have given you, but you are free to disagree on Bible prophecy!” Interestingly, 2/3 of His book is prophetic in nature and many of its strongest most shocking warnings are directed toward those who would play with prophetic truth. To agree to disagree on premillennialism is tantamount to throwing our hands up in the air, giving up all hope of truly understanding and defending the scriptures.
*Kennedy is an example of a wonderful, godly man who rejected literal interpretation.
Just so you know....In an age when folks work hard to obscure their true beliefs, we want you to know we love all of our brethren in Christ everywhere, but we stand squarely on the Bible alone and we interpret it in its normal literal sense. For a detailed explanation visit our What We Believe page at Breadcrumbs.org.