Optimistic or Pessimistic?
Post Millennialists believe that they have an optimistic view of history. They believe that Christ’s Kingdom began at His Resurrection and that ever since, Christ and His Church have been progressively conquering the world and establishing His Kingdom on earth and that when it is firmly established, Christ will return to take us to Heaven.
The reason they believe this is because they equate Christ’s Kingdom to His Church. I agree with Post Millennialists that the Church is the expression of Christ’s Kingdom on the earth today. The Bible clearly teaches that in Colossians 1:13, as well as other New Testament Scriptures. Every true believer ought to practically be living in Christ’s Kingdom by submitting himself to the Lordship of Christ in every area of his life.
However, the Post-Millennialists (first cousins to the A-Millennialists) do not believe that Christ is returning to establish His Kingdom on this earth for one thousand years, as is taught in Revelation 20.
They believe that we Pre-Millennialists have a negative view of history, in that we believe the world is growing worse and worse and that when all hope is lost, that Christ will come riding on His white horse as the Lone Ranger and save the day by bringing in His Kingdom.
WHAT DOES JESUS SAY ABOUT ALL OF THIS?
That’s the subject of the Olivet Discourse we’ve been studying in Luke 21. Other accounts of this Discourse are found in Mark 13 and Matthew 24-25. In these chapters is Jesus’ longest answer to any question ever asked Him. Why is the answer so detailed? It’s an important question the disciples asked in Luke 21:7 and again in Acts 1:6 just before Jesus ascended back to Heaven. They were concerned for the establishment of Christ’s Messianic Kingdom, promised and described repeatedly as one of the major themes of the Old Testament.
Christ’s Messianic Kingdom is described in detail in many passages such as Isaiah 11 and 35, Micah 4 and Zechariah 14 as peaceful, prosperous, righteous and holy. None of this has been true of the world these past two thousand years. Also, all Israel will have received Jesus as their Messiah.
There’s lots to be fearful of today; wars, nuclear holocaust, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, germ warfare, the financial collapse of our markets. As prophesied in Luke 21:6 men’s hearts are failing them for fear.
Thank God, that though the future of this world looks bleak and dismal; we Christians have answers and comfort from God’s Word and we are constantly challenged to not fear these things. Just a few encouraging passage on this include Luke 12:22-32, Psalm 27, Hebrews 12:5-6, and Matthew 10:28-42.
The early church took comfort in the promises of Psalm 27. Peter, in his first sermon, reminded the early church of that Psalm in Acts 4:24-29.
Look at the disciple’s question once more in Luke 21:7 When Jesus prophesied in Luke 21:6 the total destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, the disciples asked Him in verse 7 when this would occur and what signs would precede the end of this age.
First, I should remind you that the dismantlement of the temple, stone by stone was literally fulfilled forty years later in 70 AD when the Roman soldiers burned the temple and then dismantled it stone by stone to take the gold that had melted between the stones. You can see the ruins of the temple in Jerusalem today. That is an indication to me that everything else Jesus warned of in this chapter has been and will be fulfilled just as literally.
Jesus answered their questions by first of all warning them not to be deceived by false messiahs who would appear. Then through the rest of chapter 21 He described the course of this age and it is a bleak description of the future. He warned them of escalating deception, wars and commotions, as nations rise against nations and kingdoms against kingdoms. He warned of disasters such as earthquakes, famines, pestilences, as well as fearful sights and signs in the heavens.
But before any of this would happen, in verse 12 Jesus warned about impending persecution of Christians before the Jewish judges in the synagogues and also before the gentile kings and other political rulers.
Jesus encouraged them in verse 13-15 that this persecution would give them opportunities to witness for Christ. He encouraged them not to worry about how they should answer in times of trial and persecution. God would give them the right words to say.
Thank God, we can take comfort that He is always with us in trials and persecutions. In Matthew 28:20 in His Great Commission to us, He promises us the support of His presence. In John 16:33 He promise us His peace in our tribulations. In fact, Romans 5:3 teaches us that we can glory in our tribulations, knowing that they are working in our lives to produce patience.
In II Corinthians 4:17 Paul, who suffered as much or more than most Christians, said he gloried in his tribulations, recognizing that in the balance scales, they were not nearly as heavy as the glory that awaited him in Heaven.
In Colossians 1:24 Paul counted it a privilege to suffer in the place of Jesus who had returned to Heaven. Because Jesus was not present, His enemies were taking their wrath out on Paul who reminded them of Christ.
Though we suffer tribulation in this life, the Bible teaches us that as Christians we will be caught up into Heaven in what Christians refer to as The Rapture just before The Great Tribulation occurs on this earth. We escape The Great Tribulation because that is the time of God’s wrath being poured out on this and God has not appointed His people to His wrath, but to obtain salvation. Read and rest in the promises of I Thessalonians 4:13-19 and 5:1-11.
Other comforting promises of the Rapture are found in John 14:1-6, Matthew 24:36-44, I Corinthians 15:51-58, Philippians 3:20-21, Titus 2:11-14. and Hebrews 9:28.
JESUS HAS FULL CONTROL OF THE FUTURE
When Jesus, God in human flesh, hung dying on a cross one hot afternoon, it appeared to His followers and to the masses, that His life had ended in horrible failure. However, His life had been totally successful. He had accomplished His purpose in coming into the world.
1. He had purchased our redemption with His own shed blood.
2. He had sealed the future doom of Satan.
3. God vindicated Jesus’ sacrifice by raising Him from the dead three days later.
4. He returned to Heaven, as Lord of all, according to Philippians. 2:9-11.
5. He sent His Holy Spirit, as promised, to be our comfort and guide and to empower us for service.
As Christ was successful in His First Coming, so it is just as certain that He will accomplish every purpose of His Second Coming.
But before Jesus returns, bad things must take place, so expect them and don’t be terrified.
As true Christianity grows throughout the world, false Christianity is growing side by side with it. Jesus taught that in His Parable of the Wheat and the Tares in Matthew 13:24-43. The counterfeit Church will come to its full expression during the Tribulation as the Harlot Church of Revelation 17. That Church will be destroyed by the Anti-christ, so that he alone can be worshipped.
Sometimes false Christianity, like the tares, cannot be distinguished from the True Church, characterized by wheat. We are warned not to attempt to pull up the tares for fear of pulling up wheat with it. God will judge in the proper time and will separate the wheat from the chaff.
IT ONLY GETS WORSE
During the Tribulation as the seals are broken starting in Revelation 6, God’s judgments will be poured out on this earth like never before. Wars, famine, pestilence, earthquakes, fires and demonic torment will break out beyond anything man has ever seen or experienced before.
In Revelation 16-19 God will use demons to call the nations of the world together to attempt to fight against Christ in the Battle of Armageddon in the fields of the land of Israel. This is no local battle such as the Roman attack against Jerusalem in 70 AD. This is global warfare against Christ.
Christ will be victorious. His enemies will be killed and Christ will usher in His one thousand year reign of peace, prosperity and righteousness.
At the close of this Millennium there will be one final battle with Satan. He will be cast into the Lake of Fire where the Anti-Christ had been cast one thousand years earlier. Then Christ will destroy this earth and the heavens as we know them in one giant explosion, as described in II Peter 3:9-13.
In this nothingness, a Great White Throne will appear with Christ sitting on it. Before Him will be brought all the unsaved dead. They will be judged for their works. Because they have rejected Christ as their Saviour in life, their names will not be found in the Book of Life and they will be cast alive into the Lake of Fire with the Beast, False Prophet and Satan.
Christ will create new Heavens and a new earth on which Christians will live with Christ, perfected and free from sin and temptation forever. Read again the 3rd chapter of II Peter and learn how it is all going to end. Note that the reason Christ has held off this judgment so far has been because He is long-suffering and not willing that any should perish. If you are an unbeliever, how much further are you going to push His patience?
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