“Thus the study of the end-time is generally so overlaid with millennial predicates that the Biblical revelation is interpreted in the light of millennial theory rather than millennial theories being interpreted in the light of the Scriptures.”
Russell Boatman; What The Bible Says About The End Time
As a pastor, one of the things people want to know is what I believe about the End Time. This is sticky topic because there are many people who are passionate about what they believe. They have a view of what the End Time will be like, and if you don’t agree, your commitment to Scripture is put into question. This is why a pastor who holds a view that is contrary to the popular view may hesitant in answering the question.
My view on the End Time is different from the popular version that is taught in different Christian circles today. It seems to me that many American Christians hold to a premillennialist view of the End Time. This view is the basis for the Left Behind book series. I am not a premillennialist. There are different reasons why I find that view problematic, but that is not what I want to focus on today. Rather, what I want to do is explain why I hold the amillenialist or church-age millennialist view of the End Time.
Here are four reasons that are compelling for me:
1. The Church is God’s Kingdom.
But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are a kingdom of priests, God’s holy nation, his very own possession. This is so you can show others the goodness of God, for he called out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9; NLT).
The church is God’s kingdom. We are His people, called out of the world to live for Him. Through our faith and obedience to God’s will we bring God’s rule into this world and allow His Kingdom to expand throughout the earth (the fulfillment of the prophecy in Daniel 2). We are a Kingdom of priests who worship God and help other people in their worship.
“You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is among you.” (Luke 17: 21; NLT).
Another way to translate this verse is “For the Kingdom of God is within you.” No matter how you translate the verse we are able to recognize Jesus’ point: his kingdom is not a physical kingdom. It wasn’t the first time he came, and it won’t be when He comes again. His Kingdom cannot be marked off with boundaries, for it is made up of people from every tribe and every nation. The thing that separates us from the world is our faith in Jesus Christ. The Kingdom of Heaven is bigger than a physical kingdom, for it is the supernatural Kingdom of God. Jesus Christ is the recognized King of the Kingdom, for God has given him all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18; Ephesians 1:22).
Pilate replied, “You are a king then?” “You say that I am a king, and you are right,” Jesus said. “I was born for that purpose. And I came to bring truth to the world. All who love the truth recognize what I say is true” (John 18:37; NLT).
Jesus rules with truth. Those who hear his voice and obey the truth he teaches come under his Lordship. The people Jesus rules are those who are set free by the truth. Just as our salvation is an ongoing process (we have been saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved), the Kingdom of Jesus has not reached completion. The Kingdom continues to grow: it began on the day of Pentecost, it has expanded through the centuries, and it will ultimately reach fulfillment with Jesus’ second coming.
2. Satan is bound.
“Let me illustrate this. You can’t enter a strong man’s house and rob him without first tying him up. Only then can his house be robbed!” (Matthew 12:29; NLT)
The context of this verse is a discussion about the authority of Jesus to cast out demons. Some people claimed that Jesus’ authority comes from Satan. Others believed that Jesus was a great prophet from God. The response Jesus gave was a short parable. The meaning of the parable is quite clear, Jesus has bound Satan (which is evidence that he is more powerful than Satan), and that is why he has authority of the demons. Not only was Satan bound by Jesus’ presence in the world, but he was further bound through the death and resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection meant that Jesus defeated Satan’s greatest weapons: sin and death. Jesus made them ineffective to all who follow him. Wherever Jesus is made Lord, Satan is bound.
This is the weakest of the four points, because it is hard to see just how Satan has been bound. There is no doubt that Satan is still alive and active in the world. The kingdom of darkness still creates havoc all around us. In spite this reality, I think we need to believe Jesus’ teaching: he bound Satan.
3. The righteous and the wicked will be together until the end.
“Let them both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds and burn them and to put the wheat in the barn.” (Matthew 13:30; NLT)
In this parable (Matthew 13:24-30) there was a farmer who planted wheat. During the night his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat. When this treachery was discovered the workers wanted to go and pull the weeds, but the farmer said no. His command is that the two to grow side by side until harvest, then the weeds will be removed and burned, while the wheat is threshed and stored in the barns.
I take this to mean that there will be no rapture to remove the saints from the world. Jesus is clear in the parable, the two will live side by side until judgment. God will not remove the wicked from this world to make life easier for us, nor will He rapture us away to avoid the tribulations of life. One of the implications of this is that Christians are to influence this world, and that is why God has not removed us.
4. Jesus is our temple.
“I tell you, there is one here who is even greater than the Temple!” (Matthew 12:6; NLT)
“All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19, NLT)
“I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its Temple.” (Revelation 21:22: NLT)
The point here is that we don’t need to wait for a new temple to be built in Jerusalem. Jesus identified himself as the new Temple. He is greater than the ancient temple ever was, because he is not simply the place where God’s presence is located, but he is God. He is not only the place where the sacrifice happens, he is the sacrifice. The book of Hebrews reminds us that Jesus is superior to everything found in the Old Testament. All that came before were just shadows of the reality found in Jesus.
There is much more that could be written about this subject. Truth be told, my knowledge about what the Bible says about the End Time is very limited, but these are a few of the reasons why I am a church-age millenialist.
Everyone forms an opinion or belief based on the information that has been given to them. My encouragement to you today is understand the reasons why you believe what you do, not only about the End Time, but other things as well. One of the errors we can make is to accept a belief without really thinking about why we accept that belief to be true. Knowing why we believe what we do will help us become more confident in our faith, give us answers to commonly asked questions, and provide us with an understanding of other points of view.
The topic of the End Time can be a difficult one. Many people are passionate about their beliefs, and this passion can lead to divisions for those who disagree. Understand that there is more than one way to approach what the Bible says about the End Time and be gracious to those who might hold a different perspective. Know why you believe the way you do, and don’t demand that your understanding most be held by all true Christians.