THEOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS OF POSTMILLENNIALISM

foundationsPMT 2015-039 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Postmillennialism expects that before the end of history, the vast majority of the world’s population will be converted to Christ as a consequence of the Spirit-blessed proclamation of the gospel. In light of present world conditions, though, many non-postmillennial Christians are surprised at the resilience of the postmillennial hope. In this article I will briefly show that though the hope of gospel victory sounds strange to the modern evangelical, the basic theology of Scripture is quite congenial to it. Indeed, these factors suggest the prima facie plausibility of postmillennialism.

God’s Creational Purpose

In Genesis 1 we find the record of God’s creation of the universe in the space of six days. As a result of God’s purposeful creative power, all is originally “very good” (Gen. 1:31). Of course, we expect this in that God creates the world for his own glory: “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen” (Rom. 11:36). “All things were created by him and for him” (Col. 1:16b). Frequently, Scripture reaffirms God’s love of his created order and his ownership claim over all things: “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” The postmillennialist holds that God’s love for his creation prompts his concern to bring it back to its original purpose of bringing positive glory to Him. Thus, the postmillennialist’s hope-filled expectation is rooted in creational reality.


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Formal seminary course developing and defending postmillennial eschatology.
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God’s Sovereign Power

Our evangelistic task in God’s world should be emboldened by the certainty that God “works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will” (Eph. 1:11). We confidently believe that God controls history by means of his decree, whereby he determines “the end from the beginning” (Isa. 46:10). Consequently, postmillennialists assert that God’s Word, as he says, “shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isa. 55:11), irrespective of the opposition of men or of demons, despite natural phenomena or historical circumstances.

The Christian, then, ought not use past historical factors or present cultural circumstances to pre-judge the prospects for future gospel success. Rather, he should evaluate its possibilities solely on the basis of the revelation of God in Scripture — for the success of the gospel is “not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit” (Zech. 4:6). Thus, the postmillennialist’s ultimate confidence is in the sovereign God.

God’s Blessed Provision

In addition, the Lord of lords amply equips his church for the task of world evangelistic success. Among the abundant divine provisions for the church are the following:

(1) We have the very presence of the Risen Christ with us (John 6:56; 14:16-20, 23; 15:4-5; 17:23, 26; Rom. 8:10; Gal. 2:20; 4:19; Eph. 3:17; Col. 1:27; 1 John 4:4). He is the One who commands us to “go and make disciples of all nations,” while promising to be with us to the end (Matt. 28:19-20). “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).

(2) We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit from on high (John 7:39; 14:16-18; Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 3:16; 2 Cor. 6:16). Thus, we believe that “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4b). Among his many ministries he causes the new birth, empowers believers for righteous living, and blesses their gospel proclamation in bringing sinners to salvation (John 3:3-8; 1 Cor. 6:11; Tit. 3:5; 1 Pet. 1:11-12, 22).

(3) The Father delights in saving sinners (Eze. 18:23; 33:11; Luke 15:10; 2 Cor. 5:19; 1 Tim. 1:15; 2:5). In fact, the Father “did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17).

(4) We have the gospel which is the very “power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16; 15:19; 16:25; 1 Cor. 1:18, 24; 1 Thess. 1:5). We also wield the powerful word of God as our spiritual weapon: “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:4-5; 2 Cor. 6:7; Eph. 6:17; 1 Thess. 2:13; Heb. 4:12).


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Formal Christ College course on Christian Theistic Ethics.
Demonstrates theonomic underpinnings of Christian ethics.

See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com


(5) To undergird and empower us to gospel victory, we have full access to God in prayer (Matt. 7:7-11; 21:22; Eph. 2:18; Phil. 4:6; Heb. 4:16; 10:19-22; 1 John 3:22; 5:14-15) through Jesus’s name (John 14:13, 14; 15:7, 16; 16:23, 24, 26; 1 John 3:22; 5:14, 15). Christ even directs us to pray to the Father: “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).

(6) Though we have supernatural opposition in Satan, he is a defeated foe as a result of the first advent of Christ. “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14; cp. Matt. 12:28-29; Luke 10:18; John 12:31; 16:11; 17:15; Acts 26:18; Rom. 16:20; Col. 2:15; 1 John 3:8; 4:3-4; 5:18). Consequently, we can so resist him that he will flee from us (Jms. 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:9); we can crush him under our feet (Rom. 16:20). Indeed, our God-given mission is to turn men “from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18). Thus, the church’s ample equipment is given by a gracious Savior.

Therefore, since God creates the world for his glory, governs it by his almighty power, and equips his people to overcome the Enemy, the postmillennialist asks: “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31). Our confidence is in the service of the Lord Jesus Christ, “the ruler of the kings of the earth” (Rev. 1:5). He sits at God’s “right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church” (Eph. 1:20-22). We have confidence that the resurrection of Christ is more powerful than the fall of Adam.

 

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One thought on “THEOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS OF POSTMILLENNIALISM

  1. […] Traducido y re-publicado con permiso. Artículo original aquí. […]

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