A Guide to Christian Theology - Lesson 51

Eschatology and the Kingdom of God

From this lesson, you will gain a deep understanding of the Kingdom of God, its components, and the different interpretations regarding Christ's second coming and the eschatological events. You will explore the concepts of the inaugurated kingdom, the Messianic kingdom, and the millennium. The lesson underscores the importance of humility and mission in light of these theological discussions, emphasizing that there is no definitive answer to the timing of Christ's return or the nature of the tribulation. Ultimately, you will be equipped to engage in thoughtful discussions and theological reflection on these topics.

Gerry Breshears
A Guide to Christian Theology
Lesson 51
Watching Now
Eschatology and the Kingdom of God

I. Introduction

A. Overview of the Lesson

B. Addressing the Kingdom of God

1. Components of the Kingdom

a. Ruler: God or Jesus

b. Rules: Relational guidelines

c. Realm: People within the Kingdom

2. Types of Kingdoms

a. Eternal Kingdom

b. Messianic Kingdom

3. Definition of the Kingdom

a. Mission to rescue and renew

b. Establishing rule

c. Defeating evil powers

d. Lord to all relationships

e. Worship of the Lord

II. The Inaugurated Kingdom

A. Current Status of Jesus as Anointed King

B. Comparison with David's Anointing

C. Future Reign of Jesus as Ruling King

D. Role of Believers in the Inaugurated Kingdom

III. Analysis of Matthew 24

A. Two Questions Addressed by Jesus

B. Signs of the Times

C. Uncertainty of the Second Coming Date

D. Warning Against Date Setting

IV. Views on the Seven-Year Tribulation

A. Lack of Sufficient Biblical Data

B. Examination of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17

C. Ambiguity Regarding the Rapture

D. Importance of the Rapture's Timing

V. Understanding the Millennium

A. Symbolic Nature of Numbers in Revelation

B. Significance of a Thousand Years

C. Views on the Reign of Christ

1. Pre-Millennial View

2. Historic Pre-Millennial View

3. Post-Millennial View

4. A-Millennial View

D. Connection Between Millennial Views and the Role of the Church

VI. Acts 1 and the Restoration of Israel

A. Disciples' Question on Restoring the Kingdom to Israel

B. Luke's Response Regarding the Timing

C. Emphasis on Spreading the Gospel

VII. Clarification of Pre-Trib, Mid-Trib, and Post-Trib Views

A. Pre-Tribulation Rapture

B. Mid-Tribulation Rapture

C. Post-Tribulation Rapture

VIII. Relationship Between Millennial Views and Pre-Trib/Post-Trib Positions

  • In this lesson, explore the significance of systematic theology, blending academic insight with personal devotion. Learn to interpret biblical texts, understand how theology shapes beliefs, and fortify your faith against deception. This study fosters personal, biblical, and responsible theological growth, vital for spiritual development and discipleship.
  • Learn diverse ways to tackle theological questions, focusing on Holy Spirit baptism. Understand deductive, inductive, and retro-abductive methods. Acts 17:11 and Acts 15 show how community perspectives contribute to nuanced theological discussions, promoting unity amidst differing viewpoints.
  • This lesson provides insights into theological certainty levels, categorizing beliefs into "die for," "divide for," "debate for," and "decide for," highlighting essential doctrines, divisive issues, passionate debates, and less crucial matters, while underscoring the significance of understanding diverse perspectives and theological terms across different Christian tribes.
  • Explore general revelation through creation and conscience (Psalm 19, Romans 1). Responding leads to God, though not salvation alone. Special revelation possible. Diverse salvation views, favoring knowing Jesus. Seared consciences don't always void salvation.
  • Gain deep understanding of special revelation: history, divine acts, and communication revealing God's character and redemptive plan via Messiah. Lesson highlights Bible's key role, conveying God's nature, guidance, and transformative power, emphasizing ongoing divine-human communication.
  • This lesson delves into the concept of divine inspiration in Scripture, citing 2 Timothy 3:15-16 and 2 Peter 1:16-21. It explains "God-breathed" as a term highlighting God's creative influence on words, rejecting mere concepts or dictation. Inspiration involves human authors, their personalities, and styles, conveying God's message to the entire church.
  • In this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of the characteristics of God, including their definitions, biblical support, and implications and applications.
  • In this lesson you will gain insight into the Bible's clarity, sufficiency, and authority, and the Canon.
  • In this lesson, you'll grasp a deep understanding of God's character. His foremost quality is compassion, like a mother's love. He's gracious, patient, loving, faithful, and forgiving, extending favor even to the undeserving. Yet, He's just, not sparing the persistently rebellious. This lesson dispels misconceptions, urging contemplation of God's profound blend of love and justice.
  • This lesson delves into holiness via Isaiah 6, emphasizing dedication over separation from sin. It challenges misconceptions and calls for church reform.
  • This lesson delves into the fundamental characteristics of God, particularly the Trinity, emphasizing God's essential relational nature within Himself and its biblical implications, while also addressing theological controversies and highlighting the complexity of the Trinity.
  • This lesson explores different approaches to knowing God, inspired by Thomas Aquinas, discusses the doctrine of immutability, and highlights how God can change in his attitude and actions based on biblical evidence, emphasizing the value of in-depth Bible study and open dialogue in understanding God's nature.
  • This lesson covers key theological concepts: sovereignty, election, and free will. It explores differences between Calvinist and Wesleyan-Arminian views on God's sovereignty, impacting God's plan and human responsibility. Emphasis on defining terms to prevent disputes. Speaker is a "Calminian," blending Calvinism and Arminianism for a balanced perspective. Valuable insights into theological complexities and scripture interpretation.
  • Exploring various theological views and problematic issues surrounding the concept of providence, we will gain a comprehensive understanding of the role of prayer in providence, as well as the compatibility of God's sovereignty and human responsibility.
  • You will gain knowledge about anthropology and its biblical foundations, creation of human beings and the image of God in humans, fall and sin and their implications on human nature, redemption and sanctification, and human destiny and eschatology, including views on heaven and hell and the return of Christ.
  • This lesson offers valuable insights into the multifaceted nature of providence and its profound implications for our comprehension of God's role in the world.
  • The lesson touches upon various types of suffering, categorizing them into six different types: moral evil (e.g., rape), natural evil (e.g., cancer), persecution, sharing the suffering of another, punishment for sin, and suffering caused by the devil.
  • Learn to discern God's will by cultivating a Christ-like character, living by moral principles, seeking counsel, embracing uniqueness, and praying. It's about aligning with your long-term happiness and godly desires, offering a balanced approach to life decisions.
  • Explore Jesus' nature and incarnation. Learn how He balanced divine and human attributes, challenging traditional views. Reflect on His mission and ours, empowered by the Holy Spirit, bridging divinity and humanity.
  • This lesson delves into the incarnation of Jesus, explaining his dual nature as both God and man during his earthly mission, supported by Old Testament, Gospel, and epistle references. It acknowledges the complexity of his divinity and humanity, even after his ascension.
  • This lesson explores Jesus' dual nature, divine and human, delving into emotions, knowledge, sin, and his role as the Second Adam, offering theological insights.
  • Learn about Jesus' life and mission, challenging traditional beliefs like the virgin birth. Explore his spiritual journey, resurrection, and more, fostering critical thinking and alternative perspectives.
  • This lesson provides a comprehensive examination of atonement, its various dimensions, and the theological concepts surrounding it.
  • Learn about the Holy Spirit, baptism, and its role in Christian faith. Understand diverse perspectives on its workings in believers' lives, emphasizing its incorporation at conversion and empowering influence, supported by biblical insights.
  • Gain insight into the relationship between spirit baptism and conversion, the various terms used in Scripture, and the importance of ongoing fillings with the Holy Spirit for special ministry tasks, character, and as a command for all believers.
  • This lesson explores the role of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. It challenges traditional definitions, proposing that any ability empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in ministry is a spiritual gift. The primary gift is the Holy Spirit himself.
  • Learn about the theological debate on spiritual gifts like prophecy and miracles. Explore four perspectives: cessationism, continuationism, functional cessationism, and word of faith. The instructor, a continuationist, emphasizes discernment and scripture while promoting respectful dialogue among believers with differing views.
  • This lesson explores the Bible's view of humanity, emphasizing humans as God's unique creation, made from dust and breath, in His image. It delves into human origins, our role as covenant partners, and the interaction between spirit and body, supported by biblical passages, offering a holistic perspective on being human in God's eyes.
  • This lesson redefines humans as image-bearers of God, emphasizing the role of reflecting divine attributes in all work, gender equality, and growth in Christ-likeness. It promotes dignity for all, with potential for deeper reflection as faith matures.
  • In this lesson you will explore the origin of sin, rejecting dualism in favor of a Christian perspective where sin arises from the choices of morally responsible creatures. The lesson introduces the idea of a pre-creation rebellion by Satan, emphasizing that humans are called to engage in spiritual warfare by doing good and promoting Shalom in the world.
  • You will gain knowledge and insight into the nature, marks, purpose, structure, and sacraments of the Church and learn about the different views and definitions used to define it.
  • This lecture discusses the leadership offices of a church, including eldership, deacons, and church members, and how they function according to biblical principles of polity, which prioritize following what the Bible prescribes, closely following what it describes, and using wisdom and being Spirit-led in matters it is silent about, all with the aim of effectively sharing the Gospel and achieving unity and focus.
  • In this lesson, you will explore baptism's significance, modes, and theological perspectives, and learn its role in church membership, unity, discipleship, and spiritual growth.
  • This lesson provides an overview of the historical, biblical, and theological aspects of Communion, including practical considerations for its practice.
  • You will gain a good understanding of death and its theological implications, including the biblical view of death, consequences of death, and resurrection and the afterlife. The lesson covers the definition of death, cultural views, and the portrayal of death in the Old and New Testaments. You will also learn about the physical and spiritual consequences of death, as well as the Bible's teachings on resurrection and the afterlife.
  • From this lesson, you gain insight into the biblical concept of God's Kingdom, its significance in Christian theology, and its impact on eschatology, social justice, and the Church's role.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into eschatology, examine biblical perspectives, explore key events like the Rapture, Tribulation, Millennium, and Final Judgment, and learn the significance of eschatology for today's believers.
  • By studying the eternal state, you gain insights into the new heaven and earth, resurrection, judgment, and eternal life, deepening your understanding of Christian hope and assurance.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insight into the crucial role of church leaders, their essential qualities, and the challenges they face, while discovering the importance of support and encouragement for their growth and effectiveness in ministry.
  • In this lesson, you gain an understanding of the nature of Scripture and learn to interpret the Bible within its historical, literary, and canonical contexts while addressing challenges in biblical interpretation.
  • This lesson delves into the structure and authority of a church, examining different leadership models and emphasizing the overarching role of scripture as the final authority, while also highlighting the need for congregational involvement in decision-making processes and the unique nature of the apostles in early church leadership.
  • Learn Dr. Breshears' local church leadership principles: focus on equipping, inspiring, empowering, unifying, exemplifying, caring for, overseeing, and shepherding members. Rooted in biblical teachings, emphasizes servant leadership. The lesson discusses congregational decision-making, women in church leadership roles with respect for differing views.
  • Learn about church leadership principles, roles of elders and deacons, active membership, mutual commitment, gift utilization, and clear processes in this comprehensive lesson.
  • This lesson explores sacraments, focusing on baptism and diverse theological views. Baptism signifies a profound commitment to Christ within a believer community, emphasizing understanding and promptness post-conversion.
  • In this lesson, you'll grasp the essence of baptism, its questions, and debates. Discover belief's role, its confession, and the link to repentance and faith. Explore diverse views on baptism performers, methods, and locations. Gain insights and wisdom for informed baptism decisions in your faith community.
  • From this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of Communion, also known as the Lord's Supper or Eucharist. It will provide you with insights into the controversy surrounding its terminology and the theological background of Communion, primarily focusing on 1 Corinthians Chapters 10 and 11. You will learn about various theological perspectives on the real presence of Christ in the Communion elements and explore different viewpoints on the frequency, leadership, eligibility, and practical aspects of Communion. Overall, this lesson will equip you with the knowledge to better understand and participate in the Communion meal.
  • This lesson delves into two ends: individual death and the end of the age. It explores human death, material and immaterial aspects (Ecclesiastes 12:7, Genesis 3), fear, loss of autonomy, cremation, death determination, rewards, and urges preparation to meet Jesus, facing the undeniable reality of death.
  • Learn about the Kingdom of God, its aspects, Christ's return interpretations, and key concepts like inaugurated, Messianic, and millennium kingdoms. Emphasizing humility and mission in theological debates, it prepares you for insightful discussions on Christ's return and tribulation.
  • Learn about Christian views on heaven and hell. Hell is punishment for those who reject Jesus; heaven is eternal bliss with Him on a renewed Earth. Explore differing views respectfully.

Understand the core topics of systematic theology, from what we know about God to the future state of humankind. Special emphasis is given to such topics as Christ, salvation, the church, and the future.

A Guide to Christian Theology
Dr. Gerry Breshears
Eschatology and the Kingdom of God
Lesson Transcript

One of the big questions is the kingdom of God. And that's a whole study in itself. And so I'm going to leave a lot of this just for your study and other things. But when I look at the kingdom of God, you have the ruler, you have the rules, and you have the realm in the kingdom of God. So the ruler, of course, is God or Jesus. The rules are just the relational guidelines that He gives of how to live in such way that we have an intimate relationship to God and a good relationship with the members of the kingdom. And the realm is really the people who are part of that realm. And so you've got the dominion of darkness, the kingdom of Satan, you've got the kingdom of light, the kingdom of the Beloved Son, and they're two different kingdoms. So when we talk about God's kingdom, we're talking about Him as ruler, the people involved, and then the rules of relationship that are involved in that.

So when I think of things, I think about the eternal kingdom where God is the king, but then the Messianic kingdom is the idea that God is reestablishing His rule in a place where there's rebellion against Him, and in this world we have Satan as the prince of this world. So this is occupied territory, if you will, and it's a war zone as I understand it. And the Messianic work is Christ reestablishing the reality of His rule in a place where He is the rightful ruler, but it's a contested rulership. So my definition of the kingdom is the Lord's mission to rescue and renew His sin-marred creation. That's the heart of it. The Lord's mission to rescue and renew His sin-marred creation, establishing His rule, defeating the human angelic evil powers, being Lord to all relationships and being worshiped as Lord. That's the Messianic kingdom program, which is to bring the people of this realm back into right relation with Him as king. So the Messianic kingdom, there's a lot to be said at that spot.

And what I hold is what many people hold, and that's what's called the inaugurated kingdom. So the kingdom of God has begun in the coming of Jesus, but it's not complete. So what we're looking at here is, in my understanding, is that Jesus is the anointed king currently but not yet the reigning king. So the way I put it together, I followed the example of David in 1 Samuel 16, he was anointed by Samuel to be king. At that spot he is the anointed king, but if you check around and look at the Jerusalem times, Saul is the king, because he's sitting on the throne there in Jerusalem. He's got the crown and he's the guy who wields the scepter of the kingdom there in Jerusalem. And for 20 years David's trying not to get a spear put in him. So I would say during that time that he's the anointed king but not yet the reigning king. And it's not until after Saul is killed that David becomes the ruling king.

And that's the metaphor that I use for what it is with Jesus. He is currently the anointed king, so we see that in His baptism when He's anointed with the Holy Spirit to become Messiah. We see it in Daniel 7, when he is exalted to the right hand of the Father. So He's the anointed king now and He's in heaven but is not yet reigning here on earth. I think that will yet happen. I think there will be a time when He reigns physically, bodily, here on earth. And at that point I think He'll be the reigning king here. So I think we're in that intermediate space. And just like the mighty men of David's era who are loyal to him, even though Saul is the reigning king, we are the mighty men equivalent, that is people who are loyal to the king who's up in heaven and not visible yet, despite the fact that the prince of this world is Satan.

And if you want to get ahead in this world in many ways you need to be loyal to Satan and his ways. And we say no, we'll be loyal to Him who is in heaven, living a very different ethic, a very different lifestyle, and it'll be counter-cultural in a very real sense during this time because it's the inaugurated kingdom. So that's a fancy phrase. We find that in the kingdom parables in Matthew 13, for example, the parable of the wheat and the weeds. The people, they sow the wheat seeds but what comes up is wheat and weeds, and the caretakers are saying, "Should we go and root out the weeds so that the wheat will grow well?" And in the parable the Messiah figure says, "No, let them grow together until the day of the harvest then we'll separate the two." I think that's where we're at right now.

The kingdom work has begun and we see kingdom work in us as the church of Christ, we have kingdom outposts we call churches, but the fullness of the kingdom is not here yet. This is a very common view and I'll stand much with that. So that's the inaugurated kingdom. In the coming of Christ, we really believe that He's coming. He says as much. He makes it a promise. Acts 1 when he departs, the disciples are still standing up and staring up in the clouds and the angel says, "Why are you doing this? He's going to come as he left, personal and bodily," and I think the picture in Revelation 19 it's going to become a triumphant coming. But I did notice in Matthew 24, well, let's look at that. This is a good thing to do. Matthew 24.

Okay, Matthew 24, Jesus has left the temple. We have echoes of the Ichabod in Ezekiel 8 through 11. Jesus leaves the temple, is walking away, the disciples come up and say, "Look at these beautiful buildings." He says, "Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left another, everything will come down." I can just imagine what it would be to be a disciple to look at the temple, Herod's temple, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and say, "It's coming down? Jesus, don't you understand? That's where God is. It can't come down. It would be like the end of the age." So he said at the Mount of Olives, and again, the echoes of Ezekiel 11, "Because the glory of God leaves the temple and goes to the mountain to the east." We're just ringing of God departing the temple back then.

So the disciples said, "Tell us," and he says, "Tell us when this will happen and what will be the signs of your coming and the end of the age?" A more literal thing, when these things will happen, which is a reference to the destruction of the temple. And He goes through and gives a number of signs. And if you keep reading down there and read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, and you come down to verse 34, "Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will never pass away." Now, my understanding of Matthew 24 is there are two questions; when will these things happen, and that's the destruction of the temple, and in Matthew 24:3 through 34 is talking about what will happen before the temple is destroyed. And everything in that chapter happens before 70 AD. A lot more I could say at that spot, but take my word for it.

But the thing is there, Matthew 24:34, this generation, and that would be the people standing right there, will not pass away until all these things have happened. Well, historically that happened within that first generation. The gospel went to the entire world. All these things happened. Jesus exalted, all that. But then look at verse 36, "But about that day no one knows. Not the angels in heaven, not the Son, only the Father. As in the days of Noah so it will be the coming of the Son of Man." Now he's talking about the second question. The first question, when will these things happen, that's verses 3 through 35. The second question, what's the sign of your coming, that's verse 36 through all of chapter 25, I think. You have a similar pattern in Mark except he didn't say as much about the second coming there. And what He says about the day of the coming is nobody knows, not even Jesus standing right there. Jesus does not know the date of the second coming.

So what that says to me is His date, it's certain that it's going to happen, however not even Jesus knows when. So quit the doggone date setting. I see that constantly. People are saying, "Oh, we've got to be in the last days. Look at all the stuff that's happening." What I see happening there in the signs of the times in Matthew 24 are things that happened in that first generation, and they all happen then; wars, rumors of wars, famine, pestilence, all those things happen, and they'll happen in every generation after that. "So the time of Christ coming has to be near." Wait a minute, Jesus didn't know when. Let's calm down. I don't think you know when either. "But look at the signs of the times." That's true of every generation, it seems to me. When would Jesus come back? Well, He describes it as a thief in the night.

Now we'll be looking for it because we're believers and we anticipate every day, it could be today. So in one sense we'll not be surprised because we're expecting it. In another sense we'll be surprised. Wow, there He is. So that's my take on things. Matthew 24:3-35, the primary reference is the destruction of the temple. 36 through the end of chapter 25 is talking about His second coming and how to be prepared for that. So I think it will be personal, physical, visible, eminent, any day, triumphant and glorious. So that's what I think about the coming of Jesus Christ. What relationships have to do with the seven year tribulation, pre-trib, pre-wrath, post-trib, mid-trib, I've got a lot of data in there. I'll just tell you where I come out. I don't think there's enough biblical data to make a decision on this. I don't think there's enough biblical data.

It does talk about a time of tribulation. So let's look at it. 1 Thessalonians 4:13. 1 Thessalonians 4:13, "Brothers and sisters, we don't want you being uninformed about those who sleep in death so that you do not grieve like the rest who have no hope." We grieve but not like the rest. "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again so that we believe God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him." So that's those who are dead at the time of His coming will come with Jesus. "According to God's Word, we tell you those who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who've fallen asleep." So we're here on earth when He comes, the dead in Christ will come with Him. "The Lord himself will come down from heaven," verse 16. So here's the coming Christ coming down from heaven, "With a loud command, with the voice an archangel, and with the trumpet call of God." That's a noisy process right there.

And I'll tell you, I grew up with the secret rapture, the Left Behind movie, where did he go? He's closer to Him, he's gone. No, no, no, no. When Jesus comes back it's going to be everybody will see it. It's not going to be some secret rapture, sorry. No, I'm not sorry at all. I think it's just nonsense. "The Lord himself comes down from heaven with a loud command, the voice of an archangel and the trumpet of God. The dead in Christ will rise first." So that's the bodily resurrection. They're coming with Jesus, bodily resurrection will happen then, as I read this. "After that, we who are alive and left will be caught up together." That's the rapture. The Latin is raptura, it's the eagle, the raptor, comes down and grabs people, grabs fish out of the Columbia River I'm looking out at here. I've watched that happen, it's quite dramatic.

And that's the rapture, we will be caught up with Him to meet Him in the clouds. Now, that's the only rapture passage in scripture. Is that metaphorical or is that real? I'm inclined to think it's real. I'm not going to die for it, but I'm inclined to think it's real. I think if we are alive we'll be caught up and we'll meet Him. Then what? And that's where I don't know, because one, meetup, the word there apantésis, meet him in the air, apantésis, he's using Acts 28 when Paul is coming into Rome and the people go out and meet him then come back into Rome with him. That'd be a post-trib interpretation. If it's a marriage type thing, the groom comes and we meet him and we go to the bride's house and come back to the groom's house. It depends on which metaphor you put it with if it's pre-trib or post-trib. And frankly, I don't care. I don't think there's any data that connects the rapture with the time of the coming of Christ in the air.

So I just leave it at that. If I'm pushed really, really, really, really hard, which I was when I came to Western Seminary 40 plus years ago because they had a pre-trib rapture, and I could sign that but I was very clear I don't think there's enough biblical data to make this decision, but if you push me, Revelation 3:10, relation three 10, be protected in the time of tribulation, be taken out of the time of tribulation, I'll come out pre-trib, but I don't want to do that. So, I don't care. Who cares? Forget it. My view. Millennium, the millennium is the time of the Messianic kingdom on earth. The thousand years in Revelation 20, in my judgment, the numbers in Revelation are symbolic not statistical. So a thousand years is more like the seven head of dragon. I don't think necessarily there's a literal seven heads on that dragon. It's a number. The 42 months, the three and a half years is a symbolic number.

So the thousand years to me is not clock time. It could be, but I don't think it has to be. It's a suitable period of completion, that thousand years, so it's a time of reign on earth where there is this time of the Messianic kingdom where peace and righteousness will happen under the rule of Messiah. That's an Old Testament promise primarily, and I think it's going to happen. I think there will absolutely be a time when Christ reigns on this earth. It's a promise in the Old Testament that's repeated a number of times. I think it's also repeated or alluded to in the New Testament. So I expect a time of Christ to reign on this earth. My particular view is that there'll be a restoration of Israel as a nation. You say, where do you find that in the Bible, Gary? Okay, glad you asked. Let's look. Ezekiel 32. Sorry, Ezekiel 36. I actually looked at it before. Ezekiel 36:24 to the new covenant passage.

Here's what He says in Ezekiel 36:24, "I will take you out of the nations. I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land." That's clearly talking about Israel being regathered. Well, isn't that coming from Babylonian captivity? Because at least some of them did come back, a lot of them didn't. It could be. What about the next verse? "I'll sprinkle clean water on you and you'll be clean. I'll cleanse you from all your impurities, your idols, I'll give you a new heart, a new spirit and remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh with a new spirit in you. You will be careful to keep my laws." Did you have that kind of spiritual renewal when the people came back from Babylon? No. Read the post-exilic prophets. Israel comes back and there's still a bunch of disobedient kids. There is not a spiritual renewal. The new covenant does not happen at that time. So the gathering from Babylon is not what He's talking about here, at least not in His fullness.

When is the new covenant inaugurated? Well, Peter's sermon in Acts 2 is very clear. This is that, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit Acts 2 is at least an inauguration of the new covenant. Is it completed? I don't think so. I think there will be a time of Christ's reign on the earth, personal, bodily. The question is will it be on this earth now or will it be on the new earth? So my view is it'll be on this earth and there will be a regathering of Israel and fulfillment of this promise, as repeated many times in the Old Testament. I think there will be that regathering that will happen because I think God will bless His firstborn people with a double blessing as He blesses all the nations in the millennium, this time of universal peace and righteousness. So I come out as what's called a progressive dispensational pre-millennial view, and I'm quite comfortable with that.

I think you can defend it against anybody, though some people think I can't because they don't agree with me. I tried to convert Greg Beal to my view, who is a personal bodily reign of Christ on the new earth. He does not see a gathering of Israel as a nation. He sees a renewal of the Jewish people, but he sees that on a new earth not on this earth. And at one of our ETS banquets we were both on the exec committee and we're down toward the end of table and I was trying to convert him and he was trying to convert me. We had a great conversation. Neither one of us relented to the other. But see, what we were agreeing on, and I think this is important, there'll be a time when there'll be a reign of Messiah, personal and bodily, a reign of Messiah, and it'll be on the earth and be a time of universal peace and righteousness.

I come out at a pre-mil view. I think there'll be a second coming after that. He comes after, it's actually all millennial, so he sees it after the second coming of Christ on the new earth. We disagree, but there's a lot of agreement between us at that point. So pre-mil, I've got it down here, dispensational is the idea that there'll be a national future for Israel. I think that will be the case. Miller Derrickson, my good friend, is a historic pre-mil, so he thinks there'll be a millennium but no restoration of Israel as a nation. Post-mill, the preaching of the gospel, when a century ago everybody was post-millennial. I don't know many post-millennials today that think the gospel is going to take over the world. And there a lot of a-mil, there will be no time of universal peace and righteousness on this earth, that there may be on the new earth. Big, big, big debate over this. On one level it doesn't make any difference because we're not going to be there and it's not something that impacts us currently.

It does strike me though that we do have an issue coming up here because how we see the millennium, the purpose coming out impacts significantly how I see the role of the church today. If you're an a-mil person that often goes with a transforming view, the church should be transforming the world now through political action. Many a-mil people end up becoming... We accomplish the work of the kingdom now through political means. Many don't go there, but a number do. If you're post-mil, you believe and really hope if you preach the gospel you can transform the entire world to Christianity. There's still some post-millennial people around. They tend to be triumphant people often associated with the more thoroughgoing Pentecostal movements. Pat Robertson was post-millennial believing that we could win the world for Jesus Christ through preaching the gospel. So that's where the personal impact of that comes out.

I think God will regather his people with a double blessing because that's just the kind of God He is. He keeps His promises. I really think He does. In one last passage in this lesson, Acts 1, Luke here is speaking in Acts 1 and he talks about his prior thing and Jesus preaching the kingdom for 40 days. He said, "Don't leave Jerusalem but wait for the gift my Father promised, for John baptized with water but in a few days you'll be baptized with the Holy Spirit." Now, what are the gospels hyperlinked to when they hear the baptism of the Holy Spirit? I think they hyperlink back to Ezekiel 36 and passages like that. "Then they gathered around and said, 'Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?'" That sounds like Ezekiel 36:24 and 28 to me. Is Ezekiel 36:24 and 28 going to happen today? Is that what you're talking about?

There's the entire new covenant promise regathering the people in spiritual renewal together. And Jesus said, "It's not for you to know the times or date the Father set by His authority. What you're going to do is take the gospel to the ends of the earth because we've got to get all Gentiles saved." In my understanding, Luke picks this question to come back and say, "When will the promise of God be fulfilled?" I think he's saying, "Not today. I don't know the date. You don't know the date. We've got a job to do in the meantime, take the gospel to the world." But it will happen someday, the date is coming but we don't know the date. That's the way I put it together. Other people think Jesus is saying, "Oh gosh, you guys still think the kingdom's restored in Israel? Like get over it guys."

I have trouble thinking of that after 40 days of teaching the kingdom they're still that disastrously wrong in what they're doing. I think Luke puts it in to say, "Yeah, he's going to keep his promise but don't worry about it. Our job is take the gospel to the nations today and when He comes back He'll take care of the rest of it." So that's where I leave it. So pre-trib, post trib, all that kind of stuff, not to worry about it. I'm not worried about it at all, frankly. God would never let us go through tribulation. Try living like people living in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Try living like people living in Sri Lanka. Try living like the people living in North Korea. God would never let you go through persecution or difficulty, that's rich Americans who live in peace exporting our comfort onto the world. Jesus, doesn't call us to comfort, He called us to mission. That's where I'm at. I see that hand.

Could you just succinctly define, because I know the questions are going to come up, pre-trib, mid-trib, post-trib.

The question here is, and it's on your student guide here, what relation does the coming of Christ have with the seven-year tribulation? So pre-trib, Christ comes before the tribulation, raptures the church and takes it back to heaven. Mid-trib, Christ comes in the middle of the tribulation before the great tribulation and takes His church out and back up into heaven. Post-trib, He comes after the tribulation and comes down to earth and we go out and meet Him and come right back with Him. That's pre-trib, mid-trib, post-trib.

And then how does that relate to post-millennial and amillenial?

Okay, millennium has to do with the universal time of peace and righteousness. Pre-mil says Christ's coming will be prior to the millennium and by His coming is what establishes the righteousness of the role of Messiah. Post-mil says the gospel will win and then Jesus will come back after the millennium to establish the new heaven and the new earth. A-mil says there never will be a time of universal peace and righteousness on this earth. Everybody who is pre-trib is also pre-mil. People who are a-mil many times are post-trib. They believe there'll be a time of great tribulation at the end of this age just prior to the second coming of Christ. Others don't see tribulation the entire time. There's a lot of different ways the dots are put together, but that's a very real question.


Log in to take this quiz.