Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Why I Am Still Premillenial

I'll admit that I am a premillenial guy mainly because of Revelation 20, but there are other factors as well. But that passage is the clincher. Here's why:

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomles 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 yers; and he cast him in to 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.

Let's cut straing to the chase, shall we? For amillenialism to be true, then what is quoted above in Revelation 20:1-3 must be true at this very moment. That is, Satan must be "bound," "shut up," and "sealed" in the bottomless pit. That's pretty strong language for someone Peter depicts as currently stalking about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).

The amil position appeals to Jesus' parable of the binding of the strong man in Matthew 12: 29-30 and Mark 3:27. Here, they teach, Jesus clearly teaches that His ministry will bind the strong man, Satan, and take away his powers. In principle, I agree. Jesus has taken from Satan the power of death and sin (Hebrews 2:14). However, believe that the Revelation passage teaches a little more than this.

Specifically, Revelation 20:3 teaches that during this imprisonment, Satan will not have the power to decieve the nations. If Satan is currently decieving the nations, then we cannot possibly be in the millenial kingdom as the Amilleniallists claim. Well, I submit that there are nations who are decieved by Satan. If not, how do we explain the conduct of N. Korea, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Sudan, Indonesia, and others in their conduct towards Christians...to name a few!

Furthermore, Revelation 20 does not say that John saw Satan bound by Jesus. An angel binds Satan in Revelation 20. Certainly, Satan is bound by Jesus' authority, but this does not seem parallel with the accounts of Matthew and Mark. I believe that the "strong man" argument is rather weak. I cannot conceive of how Satan can be bound and sealed in a bottomless pit and yet roam the world seeking people to destroy.

Of course, the amil guy can counter that Revelation 20 should not be taken "literalistically". That is, John did see Satan thrown into a "literal" bottomless pit. That's absurd. He's just communicating that Satan was merely limited in what he could do since Jesus' resurrection.

Well, I don't buy it. Satan has always been limited in what he can do. (See Job's story.) And if John wanted to say that Satan was restricted, he could have done so. But he purposesly piled up the imagery of chains, bondage, deep, dark holes and sealed over pits. If John had wanted to say that Satan couldn't get away, how much more strongly could he have put it?

Further, if it is the work of Jesus in the world that guarantees Satan's bondage, then what happens to let him loose? Is the gospel message going to cease to be preached? What, exactly, must occur for him to be "loosed" for a little while? A period of apostasy in the Church? That's possible, but we know one thing about the Church for certain: She can never totally fail. Though things may get atrociously horrible, the Church will never fail. And as long as Christ's work is being done on earth, then Satan must be bound, according to the Amil position as I understand it. So, I cannot believe that we are currently in the millenium.

So that, in a nutshell, is the "seal" for me of the Premil position. Now as for a pre-trib, mid-trib, post-trib position....forget it. I'm still working on the millenium. For now I'm default pre-trib. And as for dispensational...barely. I'm barely dispensational. I see a distinction between Israel and the Church, though both are the elect of God. I see it like this:

Israel is the elect.
The Church is the elect.

Israel is not the Church.

Just like:

Cats are animals.
Dogs are animals.

Cats are not dogs.


We are related, and no one is superior to the other. We are as equal and complementary as we can be, just as male and female are. But while we are the same, yet we are different. And wonderfully so, as I understand it.

But I do not deny the Covenant of Works/Law and the Covenant of Grace. I see that clearly. So what does that mean? Well, it means I'm saying yes and leaning towards no. It means I'm doing the best I can to work this thing out. So, bare with me.

9 comments:

Jim said...

You poor guy, trying to balance reformed theology with Biblical eschatology.

At least you see Rev. 20 in a proper light. I think that one is quite plain in its narrative.

My million dollar question is; why is amil. teaching and reformed theology so closely intertwined? Does one lead to the other?

God bless,
Jim

Even So... said...

Good question Jim, hey Brad, why aren't we all presby's?

Sojourner said...

Jim,

They aren't necessarily intertwined. The Presby Reformed types also have folks in the Historical Premil and the Post-mil camps.

Even So,

I can't answer for the "we," but it's mainly because I remain a convinced credo-baptist.

Even So... said...

Me, too, and I see ordinances, not sacraments, and I see a literal fulfillment of Irael and land, and on, and on, etc., etc....

pilgrim said...

In one sense Israel is not the Church, depending on how you mean that.

God's people are God's people, and God has used different ways of administering that--the outward form wasn't always Israel either.

For example--when did Israel start?

God has always had one bride--outwardly the look may change--but they are God's one people-God is not a bigamist, nor does he have a plan B--all forms of saying Israel is not the Church seem to boil down to one or the other---that includes those who say the Church replaces Israel--that didn't happen either (That would make the Church plan B)

But the Bible sues a lot of the same words, concepts and prophecies about both. The cats & dogs analogy is not convinvcing as "the Elect" are a much more distinct and specific group than "animals."

Hebrews treats the Church as the continuation of Israel--as God's people.

The elect, or God's people consist of Adam and Eve down through the last soul saved before Christ's return.

But you know what? Despite differing in this area I still see you proclaim the truth here. I believe you are a believer, and we disagree in this secondary, but still important area.

All eschataological views have areas they seem to break down--none of them are perfect, but I have more issues with full preterism than any others--then Big D Dispensational pre-mill.

After that the differences are minor. I respect many men and women who are historical pre-mill, and post mill--and even many who are dispensational.

But Amill fits the Bible the best as far as I can see. And I leaned that way before I joined a Presbyterian Church--maybe that's part of the reason I became one. I don't know for sure...

Jim said...

Pilgrim, I think then the onus would be to explain Rev. 20 which here Brad clearly believes (as do I) is future tense.

That being the case, we could not possibly be in the millenium at this point.

pilgrim said...

Kim Riddlebarger does a much better job explaining that in his book "A Case for Amillenialism" than I could ever do myself.

In an article posted here-
http://www.graceonlinelibrary.org/articles/full.asp?id=9|24|693
He writes-
"The events in Revelation 20 do not take place on the Earth at all, for the thrones described in that passage are in heaven, and not on the Earth."

Read the article for how he unacks it. It makes a lot of sense.

Also check out William Hendriksen's More Than Conquerors.

I can't say I agree with every detail in either book--but they present the most coherent and straight forward views on Rev 20 I have ever seen.

stacy turbeville said...

clearly even in premillenial thinking sin is here when Jesus reigns 1000 literal years. saying satan is bound would be wrong by looking at it your way as you debunk amillenialism. in both cases sin is here. Clearly the number 1000 is never literal in scripture. all the words used in revelations 20 are symbolic words with a real meaning. If satan is truely bound by chains then what about paul? was he literally bound by the gospel? no, it was a figure of speech. The ones part of the first ressurection are all the saved ever who accept Christ who is the first ressurection (john 5). They are saved from the second death. This is the context of the passage. Satan is loosed after the 1000 years and he and the ressurected dead souls (the lost) will try to make war with us (in the new jerusalem- a spiritual battle). Its amazing once i discovered these truths I found out pretrib millenial believers wont debate the word. When i started using these facts and much more they run and hide so to speak. I think the reason is no verses ever really says what they preach unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

I guess it was not "finished", let's finish death & satan a second time!

So there was no victory over satan or death at calvary? or I guess it was just partial?