Eschatology

 

 

Amillennialism

 

 

 

Amillennialism (which literally means ‘no millennium’) is a doctrine according to which the thousand years of Revelation 20 extend from the first coming of Christ to just before His second coming, when Satan will be loosed for a short time. Amillennialists hold that Christians who are now living are enjoying the benefits of this millennium since Satan has been bound for the duration of this period. When was Satan ‘bound’ according to Amillennialists? He was bound at the time of the first coming of Christ. Jesus bound the devil when He triumphed over him in the wilderness, and Jesus’ casting out of demons was evidence of this triumph. However, the fact that Satan was bound does not mean that Satan can do no harm whatever while he is bound. It means only that while Satan is bound he cannot deceive the nations in such a way as to keep them from learning the truth of God. In other words, it means that throughout the gospel age in which we now live the influence of Satan, though certainly not annihilated, is so curtailed that he cannot prevent the spread of the gospel to the nations of the world. Because of the binding of Satan during this present age, the nations cannot conquer the church, but the church is conquering the nations.

According to Amillennialism, the first resurrection is not the physical or bodily resurrection which is yet to come, but rather the transition from physical death to life in heaven with Christ. For the words “they came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4 – NIV) mean that the souls of people who have died – martyrs for the faith and other Christians who have remained true to Christ to the very end of their lives – are enjoying life in heaven in fellowship with Christ; it follows that the thousand-year reign is a reign with Christ in heaven of the souls of believers who have died. This reign is not something to be looked for in the future; it is going on now, and will be until Christ returns. However, it must be said also that to some Amillenialists the first resurrection is the spiritual resurrection experienced by Christians at the time of their water baptism or conversion.

As for the rest of the dead who “did not come to life until the thousand years were ended” (Revelation 20:5 – NIV), they are the unbelieving dead who did not live or reign with Christ during this thousand-year period. Whereas believers after death enjoy a new kind of life in heaven with Christ in which they share in Christ’s reign, unbelievers after death share nothing of either this life or this reign.

As for the resurrection which will take place at the end of the thousand-year period, it refers to the general resurrection, both of believers and unbelievers, which will occur at Christ's second coming when Satan is finally defeated. The general resurrection will be followed immediately by the one general Judgment and then the eternal state (the "new heavens and new earth").

The Roman Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church, the Reformed Church, the Church of Christ, the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana), and other Churches hold amillennialism.

Among Amillennialists we find the following men: Dr. Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Revised Edition, 1941); Dr. Geerhardus Vos, The Pauline Eschatology (1930); Dr. Albertus Pieters, Studies In The Revelation of St. John (1937), and The Seed of Abraham (1950); Professor Floyd E. Hamilton, The Basis of Millennial Faith (1942); Dr. George L. Murray, Millennial Studies (1948); Dr. William H. Rutgers, Premillennialism in America (1930); Dr. Abraham Kuyper, Chiliasm or the Doctrine of Premillennialism (pamphlet); Dr. Martin J. Wyngaarden, The Future of the kingdom (1934); Dr. William Hendriksen, More Than Conquerors (1939); Dr. William Masselink, Why Thousand Years?; Rev. William J. Grier, The Momentous Event (1945); and Prof. Everett I. Carver, When Jesus Comes Again (1979). Prof. Anthony Hoekema, ‘Amillennialism’, in The Meaning of the Millennium (1977).

 

Confutation

 

The apostle John wrote: “And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations any more until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time. I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth – God and Magog – to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:1-10 – NIV).

Therefore, in the light of what John saw and wrote we are bound to reject Amillennialism for the following reasons.

1) John says that Satan was bound with a great chain for a thousand years and thrown into the Abyss, which was locked and sealed over him to keep him from deceiving the nations any more until the thousand years were ended. This means that when Satan is bound and thrown into the Abyss, he will not be able to seduce those who live on the earth for a thousand years. John did not say that the devil will not be able to continue deceiving the nations the way he did in the past, but he said that he will not be able to deceive them. The meaning of the words of John is very clear. Now let me put you this question, ‘Is Satan deceiving the nations now in the Gospel era?’ Of course he is. For there are billions of unbelieving people all over the world whose minds have been blinded by Satan, the god of this age, as it is written: “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4 – NKJV). Why is Satan called “that serpent of old who deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9 – NKJV)? Is it not because he is very active in this present world and by his craftiness he deceives all those who are not in Christ? Why is Satan called “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2 – NKJV)? Is it not because he is the one who prompts all those who do not obey the Gospel to commit all kinds of sins? Therefore, we can’t say that Satan was bound at the time of the first coming of Christ. If Satan had been bound by Jesus Christ and thrown into the abyss, he could by no means deceive the whole world as he is doing now. Why is there so much wickedness in this world? Why are there so many false prophets and false teachers who teach damnable heresies? Why are there millions of idolaters, fornicators, adulterers, homosexuals, slanderers, blasphemers, liars, people who are involved in astrology and occultism and spiritism, etc. all over the world? Is it not because Satan is the prince of the power of the air and he is deceiving all the nations? In the light of what the Scripture says about the work of the devil, which can be clearly seen with our own eyes, therefore, we conclude that Satan is not bound at all, but rather he is ‘free’ to accomplish his evil purposes. The fact that the Gospel is preached all over the world and that there are people who turn to Christ, does not prove that Satan was bound at the time of the first coming of Christ, but rather proves that God is stronger than Satan and thus He is able to snatch people out of Satan’s hands. God does whatever He wants in this world, and Satan can’t prevent Him from saving people. Nor can he prevent the Gospel from being preached all over the world, for God will do all His pleasure. I said before that Satan deceives all those who do not obey the Gospel, however the Scripture says that in these last days he deceives even some believers, for the apostle Paul says: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth” (1 Timothy 4:1-3 – NKJV). Therefore Satan, by these deceiving spirits, who are under his power and direction, deceive even some believers. We are sure then that he tries to deceive all of us who have believed in the Lord. That’s why we are commanded to be sober and vigilant; because he walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (cf. 1 Peter 5:8). Therefore, once again I say that we can’t affirm that Satan has been bound, for the binding of Satan will occur when Jesus Christ returns from heaven. When he is bound, he will not be able to deceive the nations for a thousand-years.

2) John says that he saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God; they came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. These words of his mean that John saw that those souls were reunited with their resurrected bodies. In other words, John saw the resurrection of those people who had been beheaded because of their testimony and because of the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark. That John saw their bodily resurrection and not their transition from physical death to life in heaven with Christ is evident from the following words of John concerning those who did not take part in that resurrection: “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended” (Revelation 20:5 - NIV), and also from the following ones: “This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:5-6 – NIV). I would like you to note the following thing. Amillennialists affirm that the words “they came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4 – NIV) mean that the souls of people who have died – martyrs for the faith and other Christians who have remained true to Christ to the very end of their lives – are enjoying life in heaven in fellowship with Christ. However, it can’t be so, for John wrote: “They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years,” which means that before they came to life those people were dead, their bodies were lifeless on this earth while their souls were in heaven, but at a certain point they were raised from the dead, that is, their souls were reunited with their resurrected bodies, and they reigned with Christ on earth for a thousand years. And this is confirmed by the fact that John immediately after says that the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended and that this is the first resurrection. Now let me say something about the interpretation given by Amillennialists to these verse “the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended”. They say that these words mean that the unbelieving dead did not live or reign with Christ during this thousand-year period. However, if it were so as they say, that would mean that the unbelieving dead will live and reign with Christ after this period has ended. Whereas the Scripture says that the unbelieving dead will never live and reign with Christ, for when they die they go to hell and when they are raised from the dead they will be cast into the lake of fire (cf. Revelation 21:8).

In the light of what I have said, the millennium spoken of in the twentieth chapter of the book of Revelation is a literal thousand-year period which will begin when Jesus comes back. The millennium will be preceded by the resurrection of the just (the first resurrection) and followed immediately after by the resurrection of the unjust. All arguments according to which the thousand years are symbolic of the period which extends from the first coming of Christ to the second coming of Christ are vain. Reject them and expose them.

 

 

 

 

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