Stephen Whitsett BA
Giving an orthodox apologetic answer for Preterism / Dispensationalism
Post Millennialism Defined
by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
For those new to this site and unacquainted with postmillennialism, I would like to provide a brief definition of modern, Reformed postmillennialism (which differs somewhat from the older Puritan form of postmillennialism). I would define it as follows:
Postmillennialism holds that the Lord Jesus Christ establishes his kingdom on earth through his preaching and redemptive work in the first century and that he equips his Church with the gospel, empowers her by the Spirit, and charges her with the Great Commission to disciple all nations. Postmillennialism expects that eventually the vast majority of men living will be saved. Increasing gospel success will gradually produce a time in history prior to Christ’s return in which faith, righteousness, peace, and prosperity will prevail in the affairs of men and of nations. After an extensive era of such conditions the Lord will return visibly, bodily, and gloriously, to end history with the general resurrection and the final judgment after which the eternal order follows.
With this working definition before us, I will expand on some of its key elements and implications.
First, postmillennialism holds that the Lord Jesus Christ founds his Messianic kingdom on the earth during his earthly ministry and through his redemptive labors. His establishing the “kingdom of heaven” fulfills Old Testament prophetic expectations regarding the coming kingdom. The kingdom which Christ preaches and presents is not something other than that expected by the Old Testament saints. In postmillennialism the church is the fulfilled/transformed Israel and is even called “the Israel of God” (Gal 6:16Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)).
Second, the kingdom’s fundamental nature is essentially redemptive and spiritual, rather than political and corporeal. Although it has implications for the political realm, postmillennialism is not political, offering a kingdom in competition with geo-political nations for governmental rule. Christ rules his kingdom spiritually in and through his people in the world, as well as by his universal providence.
Third, because of the intrinsic power and design of Christ’s redemption, his kingdom will exercise a transformational socio-cultural influence in history. This will occur as more and more people convert to Christ, not by a minority revolt and seizure of political power in history nor by the catastrophic imposition of Christ at his second advent from outside of history. As Rushdoony notes: “The key to remedying the [world] situation is not revolution, nor any kind of resistance that works to subvert law and order. . . . The key is regeneration, propagation of the gospel, and the conversion of men and nations to God’s law-word.” This is because “evil men cannot produce a good society. The key to social renewal is individual regeneration.” (R. J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, 113, 122).
Fourth, postmillennialism, therefore, expects the gradual, developmental expansion of Christ’s kingdom in time and on earth before the Lord returns to end history. This will proceed by a full-orbed ministry of the Word, fervent and believing prayer, and the consecrated labors of Christ’s Spirit-filled people. The ever-present Christ is directing kingdom growth from his throne in heaven, where he sits at God’s right hand.
Fifth, postmillennialism confidently anticipates a time in earth history (continuous with the present) in which the very gospel already operating will win the victory throughout the earth, fulfilling the Great Commission. “The thing that distinguishes the biblical postmillennialist, then, from amillennialists and premillennialists is his belief that the Scripture teaches the success of the great commission in this age of the church” (Greg L. Bahnsen, Victory in Jesus, 74). The overwhelming majority of men and nations will be Christianized, righteousness will abound, wars will cease, and prosperity and safety will flourish. “It will be marked by the universal reception of the true religion, and unlimited subjection to the scepter of Christ.” “It shall be a time of universal peace.” “It will be characterized by great temporal prosperity” (David Brown, Christ’s Second Coming, 399, 401)
Sixth, “we can look forward to a great ‘golden age’ of spiritual prosperity continuing for centuries, or even for millenniums, during which time Christianity shall be triumphant over all the earth” (Lorraine Boettner, The Millennium, 29). After this extended period of gospel prosperity, earth history will draw to a close by the personal, visible, bodily return of Jesus Christ (accompanied by a literal resurrection and a general judgment) to introduce his blood-bought people into the consummative and eternal form of the kingdom. And so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Key: The 1000 years have to be a literal time frame for it is during this time two things remain true; Christ rules from the city he loves on earth with his saints; Satan is bound up in chains and imprisoned.
Gentry states, " You must necessarily believe that physical death will continue to exist beyond the time of Christ's second coming".
In I Corinthians 15.23-26Open in Logos Bible Software (if available) we have these words, “Then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
The implication is that when Christ comes the end comes, which would indicate a postmillennial return that ends all other rule and breaks the cycle of death. But when we make a simple adjustment,
“Then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 24Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death." The proper emphasis is on His reigning UNTIL all enemies are placed under His feet.
Based on the fact the Bible does not contradict we cannot say death ends with His return and then see people die in judgment after he returns. The principle remians; Just because two events are spoken of does not mean they follow one another or happen at the same time. The one event happens and so this becomes the catalyst for the other to happen.
The case is very clear; Revelation 19, “11Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. He returns, the dead are raised.
Revelation 20, “I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded.. they came to life… This is the first resurrection. ….when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison… will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth…. they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, ”
-deception, judgment, death,
Christ returns to judge the beast and the false prophet at the end of the Tribulation period, He rules from the city he loves with the saints who “come to life” at His return. His ruling on earth IS the millennium reign. It ends when Satan is released, deceives the nations. These nations cannot be “Christian” as the camp of the saints is made up of “resurrected and changed saints” who cannot die” and therefore cannot be deceived. All last days events spoken of in the epistles must be harmonized with the chronological events of Revelation, NOT Revelation harmonized with the epistles.
Gentry states; "You must necessarily believe that the natural creation will continue, beyond the time of Christ's second coming, to be subjected to the curse imposed by the Fall of man. You must necessarily believe that the New Heavens and New Earth will not be introduced until 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ. You must necessarily believe that unbelieving men and women will still have the opportunity to come to saving faith in Christ for at least 1,000 years subsequent to his return. You must necessarily believe that unbelievers will not be finally resurrected until at least 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ. You must necessarily believe that unbelievers will not be finally judged and cast into eternal punishment until at least 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ.
Because Paul said that at His return we are gathered to him and will rule and reign with him and we will ever be with Him, Revelation 20 tells us the second army satan gathers they surround the camp of the saints, the city he loves, Paul said “we would ever be with the Lord from that point on” so if the camp of the saints is on earth (because the satanic army marches across the plains of the earth, not heaven) Christ is ruling from Jerusalem.
Three things become evident; Christians who have been “resurrected” cannot be deceived and become part of this army. The curse is still in effect and the new heaven and earth cannot have happened yet.
Revelation 20 when the thousand years are ended, Christ returned before this 1000 year time period in Rev 19. And killed the false prophet and beast (satan is thrown into the lake of fire where the false prophet and beast are, past tense)
Satan will be released from his prison.. when are prisoners free to roam the earth after being sent to prison?
8and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog,.. If the camp of the saints is of the resurrected and changed they cannot be deceived.. Only the ungodly, unchanged, unresurrected, can be deceived…
"To gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea…rebellion against God can only be of the unsaved, not saved people who have been gloriously resurrected or changed sinners do exist during the millennium.
9And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city,.. which means if they were “saved” they would be in the city, as we know no “sinners” will be living in the New Heaven and earth therefore this could not be describing life in the New Heavens and earth. but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 2 Peter 3.. People will die therefore death has not been removed, from the earth, at Christ return.
The Millennium cannot be a “spiritual time of the church age” from 70 AD on as satan has never been imprisoned and has been free to roam the earth and deceive the nations, ask any Muslim nation if they follow Christ. Nor is Christ ruling physically and bodily in Jerusalem. The 100 years HAVE TO BE a set time frame that is marked beginning and end with either resurrection. The whole tribulation is caused by the activity of satan in deceiving even the elect.
Gentry states; "In other words, in my study of the second coming of Christ I discovered that, contrary to what premillennialism requires us to believe, death is defeated and swallowed up in victory at the parousia, the natural creation is set free from its bondage to corruption at the parousia, the New Heavens and the New Earth are introduced immediately following the parousia, all opportunity to receive Christ as savior terminates at the parousia, and both the final resurrection and eternal judgment of unbelievers will occur at the time of the parousia. Simply put, the NT portrayals of the second coming of Christ forced me to conclude that a millennial age, subsequent to Christ's return, of the sort proposed by premillennialism was impossible.”… all of this is debunked because of three little verses,
“when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison 8and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 9And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them,” all of which is described to happen after he comes.
The key then is found in two things: The first resurrection happens of the “just” when Christ returns as I Cor 15 and II Thess teaches will happen at his return. You cannot separate the return from the resurrection of the just as happening at two different times nor can we redefine resurrection to mean anything else but the dead walking again, coming to life, on earth.
Revelation 20 demands the first resurrection happens before the 1000 years which then by default tells us the return also happens before the 1000 years. “he will appear a second time” and the definition of the word “parousia” demands this return is an extended period of time on earth, which leads to the end of all things.
Because satan is loosed, deceived the nations, and they are killed by fire tells us the there is no new heaven and earth, there is no end to death, no freedom from the curse as the “fire from God” destroys the world of the ungodly and all the works of man, remaking the earth brand new, with a new heavenly Jerusalem descending from heaven