OUR BLESSED HOPE (2)

Blessed hope 2PMT 2015-028 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In my previous article I began considering a common objection against postmillennialism: that it diminishes the second coming of Christ. Oftentimes, Paul’s statement to Titus is brought forward as if it is an objection to the allegation that postmillennialism is “this worldy” in orientation. In that passage Paul speaks of his “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.”

I have already considered two responses. I will add three more.

Third, this complaint overlooks our definition

The very name of our eschatological system demands the significance and the reality of the glorious second advent as the polestar of our eschatology. Postmillennialist Loraine Boettner includes in his definition of postmillennialism: “the return of Christ will occur at the close of a long period of righteousness and peace.” In fact, he points out that the very name “postmillennial” emphasizes “that He will return after the Millennium” (Boettner, The Millennium, 4). Postmillennialist John J. Davis agrees: “This perspective is called postmillennial because in this understanding Christ will return after the period of millennial blessing” (Davis, Christ’s Victorious Kingdom, 11)

Our system name speaks of Christ’s return! In fact, each of the labels given to the four main evangelical eschatologies highlight two and only two features of eschatology: the nature of the kingdom and the timing of Christ’s coming relative to the kingdom. The fact that “millennium” is in each label indicates the nature of the kingdom as being composed either of glorious earthly conditions (premillennial, dispensational premillennial, postmillennial) or no glorious earthly conditions (amillennial). The timing of Christ’s return relative to the kingdom is related by the prefixes “pre” and “post” (amillennialism does not hold that any “millennial” conditions will prevail).


Revelation, God and Man
(24 mp3 lectures by Ken Gentry)
Formal Christ College course on the doctrines of revelation, God, and man.
Opens with introduction to the study of systematic theology.
Excellent material for personal study or group Bible study.
Strongly Reformed and covenantal in orientation.
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Davis even declares the second advent as the fifth of his five “main tenets of the postmillennial position”: “Finally and simultaneously there will occur the visible return of Christ, the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked, the final judgment, and the revelation of the new heavens and the new earth” (Davis, Christ’s Victorious Kingdom, 10, 11). In my definition of postmillennialism in chapter 4, I include the following: “After an extensive era of such conditions the Lord will return visibly, bodily, and in great glory, to end history with the general resurrection and the final judgment after which the eternal order follows.” Does this sound as if I am diminishing the second advent? By definition, then, postmillennialism emphasizes the second coming.


Free downloadable Gentry sermon: “Here Comes the Sun.”
The significance of Day 4 of creation.


Fourth, this complaint forgets the point of the debate

The eschatological debate necessarily focuses on the differences between the millen-nial systems and the distinctives of the postmillennial viewpoint. Each of the four evangelical eschatological systems is anchored in the future, bodily return of Christ. This is not a point of dispute.

In postmillennialism’s case our distinctive lies in the kingdom’s victorious unfolding in history under Christ’s providential rule prior to his Return. Hence, we must emphasize the historical hope of victory in the debate, or else we are not defending postmillennialism as such. What is more, we press this distinctive blessing of the postmillennial view in that it involves very practical matters for the Christian’s current labor.

Marcellus Kik states the historical phase of postmillennialism well, then notes the postmillennial anticipation of the second advent:

The postmill looks for a fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies of a glorious age of the church upon earth through the preaching of the gospel under the power of the Holy Spirit. He looks forward to all nations becoming Christian and living in peace one with another. He relates all prophecies to history and time. After the triumph of Christianity throughout the earth he looks for the second coming of the Lord. (Kik, An Eschatology of Victory, 4)

Fifth, this objection is impractical

After affirming Christ’s coming as our “blessed hope,” then what do we do? What becomes of the many other Scripture passages urging our attention to issues other than the second advent? It may be that William Miller made his view of the blessed hope practical by sitting on a hill waiting for it on March 21, 1843, then again on October 22, 1844 — but surely the objection does not require this sort of activity!


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This six part sermon series covers the key issues for understanding tongues-speaking
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Very helpful even for eschatology, given tongues-speaking serving as
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Iain Murray points out that William Tennent, Jr. (1705–77) had a public disagreement with George Whitefield (1714–70). As he reports it, Whitefield asked Tennent if he rejoiced that our time of death is at hand when we “will be called home and freed from all the difficulties attending this chequered scene.” Tennent replied: “No, sir, it is no pleasure to me at all, and if you knew your duty it would be none to you. I have nothing to do with death; my business is to live as long as I can — as well as I can — and to serve my Lord and Master as faithfully as I can, until he shall think proper to call me home” (Murray, The Puritan Hope, 219)

In his sovereign plan, God put us in this world — not to wait, but to work. And he will not take us out of this world until the appropriate time (Jn 17:15; cp. Php 1:19–26). Yes, we are thankful for the ultimate hope in Christ’s coming, and we long for it as our blessed hope. But we have work to do now in the circumstances to which God has called us. And the biblical expectation regarding the church’s future on earth encourages that work. Is it wrong to commit to furthering the Great Commission with hope for its fulfillment in time and on earth? Is it a misguided hope to pursue Christ’s directives with enthusiasm and anticipation? Surely not! Indeed, Christians must “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1Co 15:58).

Conclusion

I very much disagree with those who would complain that postmillennialism must deny Paul’s blessed hope in Titus 2:13. And I believe these five reasons are more than sufficient to dismantle this objection.

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