For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. John 5:22-30
We are looking at how the judgment of God works. If you have not read previous parts of this study, we have linked to each one at the bottom of this article and invite you to read them.
We are currently looking at three primary views about the thousand-year reign of Christ – known as the Millennium. The first view we studied is known as Amillennialism. We move now to the second view.
Christ’s Millennial Reign
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while. And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:1-15
The second view about the thousand-year reign of Christ we’ll look at is known as Post-Millennialism.
Post-Millennialists believe the ‘millennium’ is an era – a long period of time – not a literal period of time. They believe Christ will reign over the earth through the gradual strengthening of the Gospel message on earth. Once the world has become ‘more Christian’ (e.g. Christianized), Christ will return to the earth to reward Christians and judge the wicked.
Here are some past and present leaders in the postmillennialist movement and what they’ve written about it –
The period is usually called in the Old Testament ‘the latter days’. In the prophets of the Old Testament, we often read of things that coming to pass in ‘the latter days’, and sometimes in ‘the last days’, surely referring to gospel times. They are called ‘the latter days’ and ‘the last days’ because they represent the last period of the series of God’s providences on earth, the last period of the great work of redemption, which is, as it were, the sum of God’s works of providence, the last dispensation of the covenant of grace on earth.
The whole of this period is sometimes called in Scripture ‘the end of the world’. Read the words again of 1 Corinthians 10:11 – ‘Now all these things happened to them as examples; and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come.’ The apostle, in using this expression ‘the end of the ages’, means the whole of the gospel day, from the birth of Christ to the Day of Judgement – ‘… but now, once at the end of the ages, he has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.’ (Hebrews 9:26) This period of time may be called ‘the end of the world’, for time is used for bringing things to their stated end and purpose. Before this, things were in a kind of preparatory state, but now they are in a finishing state. An end has now come to the former worldly state, which, by degrees, has vanished away, and a spiritual state has begun to be established. In particularly, an end was brought to the former state of the Church, which we may call its worldly state, when it was subject to earthly ordinances and the rudiments of the world. The Jewish commonwealth came to an end with the destruction of its city and country. After that, an end was brought to the old pagan Empire in Constantine’s time. The next step, yet to come, is the finishing of Satan’s visible kingdom in the world with the fall of Antichrist and the calling of the Jews. At last the destruction of the outward frame of the world will come at the conclusion of the Day of Judgement. Heaven and earth began to shake towards dissolution, according to the prophecy of Haggai, before Christ came; so only those things that cannot be shaken will remain. Those things that are to come to an end will terminate, and only those things will remain that are eternal. In the first place, the outward form of Jewish worship came to an end to make way for the establishment of the spiritual worship that will endure to all eternity – ‘Jesus said to her [the Samaritan woman], ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father … But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship him’ (John 4:21,23) Here is one example of the temporary world coming to an end and the eternal world beginning. The outward Temple and city of Jerusalem did come to an end, giving place to the setting up of a spiritual temple and city that will last forever. Another example of the removal of those things that were ready to vanish away, to be overtaken by those things that will remain, is the bringing to an end of the old pagan Empire to make way for the Empire of Christ, which will last to all eternity. After that, at the fall of Antichrist, an end will be put to Satan’s visible kingdom on earth, and the establishing of Christ’s kingdom, which is an eternal kingdom – ‘Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.’ (Daniel 7:27) Here is another example of the ending of the temporary world and the beginning of the eternal one. Then, lastly, the very frame of this corruptible world will come to an end to make way for the Church to dwell in another place, one that will last in eternity.
Because the world is coming to an end by various steps and degrees, the apostle uses the expression not ‘the end’, but ‘the ends of the world’ as coming, as though the world has several endings one after another. The gospel dispensation is a finishing state: it is spent in finishing things off that once were in the making, or in abolishing things that had stood before. It is spent, as it were, in summing things up and bringing them to their climax and proper fulfilment. Now, all the old types are fulfilled, and the predictions of all the prophets from the beginning of the world will be fulfilled during this period.
The setting up of the kingdom of Christ is accomplished in four successive events, each one of which is called in Scripture Christ’s coming in his kingdom. The first event was Christ’s appearance in the wonderful dispensation of providence in the days of the apostles, when he established his kingdom and destroyed her enemies, ending with the destruction of Jerusalem. This is also called Christ’s coming in his kingdom – ‘Assuredly, I say unto you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.’ (Matthew 16:28) The second event was what happened at the time of Constantine, with the destruction of the pagan Roman Empire. This may also be represented as Christ’s coming, and may be compared with his coming in judgement. (See Revelation 6:9-17) The third event is what will happen at the destruction of the Antichrist. This also is represented as Christ’s coming in his kingdom in Daniel chapter 7:2-14, 17-27), and in other places. The fourth event will be and Final Judgement, which is represented in Scripture by Christ’s coming in his kingdom.Jonathan Edwards, The History of the Work of Redemption, 1739
Some years ago, I edited the eschatological writings of J. Marcellus Kik and published them under the title Eschatology of Victory, perhaps the best title I ever gave a book. The title states the case: postmillennialism is the eschatology of victory. This was the reason for the widespread success of God’s Plan For Victory … For me, there is another (and very personal) advantage in postmillennialism. It takes with total seriousness and a totality of meaning the validity of Romans 8:28, ‘And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.’ My work has not lacked its sometimes ugly and dishonest attacks. To be in the ‘winner’s circle’ makes a great difference in facing these things and ignoring them because the end result is so clear. History, both world history and the personal outcome, is a magnificent success story according to the Bible. We can thus be patient at the rage of the ignorant and of losers.Rousas John Rushdooney, Preface, God’s Plan For Victory, 1977 & 1997
This era of dominion will produce the worldwide transformation of society through the preaching of the gospel and individuals’ widespread positive response to the message of redemption — a continuity of dominion … Postmillennialists believe that evangelism is the absolute precondition to worldwide, postmillennial, theocratic success … Thus, postmillennialism seeks the Christianization of the world by the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Evangelism has priority in Christianization.Dr. Kenneth Gentry, The Nicene Council, pp 232, 259
Postmillennialism maintains that the victorious advance of Christ’s kingdom in this world will take place in terms of the present peaceful and spiritual power of the gospel … Postmillennialism believes in the gradual growth and success of the kingdom of God by the power of the Holy Spirit working through the Church’s preaching of the gospel.Dr. Greg Bahnsen, Victory in Jesus: The Bright Hope of Postmillennialism, Covenant Media Press, 2015, pp 42-43
First, postmillennialism is that system of eschatology which understands the Messianic kingdom to have been founded upon the earth during the earthly ministry and through the redemptive labors of the Lord Jesus Christ. This establishment of the ‘kingdom of heaven’ was in fulfillment of Old Testament prophetic expectation. The kingdom which Christ preached and presented was not something other than that expected by the Old Testament saints. In postmillennialism, the Church becomes the transformed Israel, being called ‘the Israel of God’ (Gal. 6:16).
Second, the fundamental nature of that kingdom is essentially redemptive and spiritual rather than political and corporeal. Although it has implications for the political realm, postmillennialism is not essentially political, competing with temporal nations for governmental rule. Christ rules His kingdom spiritually in and through His people in the world (representation), as well as by His universal providence.
Third, because of the intrinsic power and design of Christ’s redemption, His kingdom will exercise a transformational socio- cultural influence in history. This will occur as more and more people are converted to Christ, not by a minority revolt and seizure of political power. ‘[T]he essential distinctive of postmillennialism is its scripturally derived, sure expectation of gospel prosperity for the church during the present age.’
Fourth, postmillennialism, thus, expects the gradual, developmental expansion of the kingdom of Christ in time and on earth. This expansion will proceed by means of the full-orbed ministry of the Word, fervent and believing prayer, and the consecrated labors of His Spirit-filled people. Christ’s personal presence on earth is not needed for the expansion of His kingdom. All of this kingdom expansion will be directed and blessed by the ever-present Christ, Who is now enthroned as King at the right hand of God, ruling and reigning over the earth.
Fifth, postmillennialism confidently anticipates a time in earth history (continuous with the present) in which the very gospel already operative in the world will have won the victory throughout the earth in fulfillment of the Great Commission. ‘The thing that distinguishes the biblical postmillennialist, then, from amillennialists and premillennialists is his belief that the Scripture teaches the success of the great commission in this age of the church.’ During that time the overwhelming majority of men and nations will be Christianized, righteousness will abound, wars will cease, and prosperity and safety will flourish. Of the postmillennial kingdom at its fullest expression David Brown writes: ‘It will be marked by the universal reception of the true religion, and unlimited subjection to the sceptre ofChrist.’ ‘It shall be a time of universal peace.’ ‘It will be characterised by great temporal prosperity.’Dr. Gary North, He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillennial Eschatology, Institute for Christian Economics, 1992, pp 70-72
There are many more postmillennial leaders we could quote, but the above should give you some sense of what they believe and teach.
Postmillennialism was popular with many Protestants in Europe, England and America in past centuries. However, postmillennialism lost a large part of its following after the Civil War in the United States and after World Wars I & II in Europe, England and other parts of the world. Tens of millions of people died in the wars and aftermath, and many Christians viewed society as getting worse, not better. Because of that, many Christians moved from postmillennial eschatology to premillennialism.
We will look at the Pre-Millennial view in the next part of our special series “God’s Judgment: How It Works.”
If you have not read all of the parts of this study, we invite you to do that now for the Scriptural background to Christ as Judge.
- Part One
- Part Two
- Part Three
- Part Four
- Part Five
- Part Six
- Part Seven
- Part Eight
- Part Nine
- Part Ten
- Part Eleven
We’d also like to invite you to read the Introduction to our new companion series, God’s Justice: How It Works.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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