When Will Christ Return?
A defense of Reformed A-millennialism
by Dan Harris
Taken from http://www.mountainretreatorg.net in compliance with their copyright.
When will Christ return? Will He return before or after the Great Tribulation? This is a question that has baffled many, and has been the source of much debate among Christian groups. Historically, there were as many, or more who believed in a post-tribulation return of Christ as believed in a pre-tribulation return of Christ. Today, with the tele-popularization of dispensational pre-millennialism by tele-evangelistic groups, including those of Pat Robertson, Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, Ed Dobson, Jack Van Impe and John MacArthur, by the growth of the charismatic movement, by the popularity of the Scofield, and the Ryrie reference Bibles, and of late with the popularity of the Left Behind series of novels, little more is heard of the historic teaching of a-millennialism. Many would give a strange look to a Christian who would say that he does not believe in a Pre-tribulation rapture, nor in the future re-establishment of Israel as the people of God. Yet such was the doctrine of most of the great reformers, including Martin Luther, John Calvin, and William Tyndale, is presented in the Westminster Confession, and is the position held by most Reformed, Presbyterian, Reformed Baptist, and Lutheran churches.
Very few people today question the teachings of their churches or of their educators. People on the most part have a blind-faith in what they have been taught. Yet the Bible forbids that we should trust in what we are taught, especially when it comes to the Bible. Rather we’re to be as the Bereans and search the scriptures to see if the doctrines are true (Acts 17:11). “Study to show thyself approved unto God”( 2 Timothy 2:15 ).
Certainly the author would not suggest that all who adhere to the Pre-Tribulation, pre-millennial return of Christ fail to diligently search the scriptures. Certainly there are also those among the reformed groups that have accepted a-millennialism because their church teaches it. Yet pre-tribulation, pre-millennialism is gaining much ground among those who do not search the scriptures because of the tele-popularization of this teaching.
What are the differences between Pre-tribulation-Pre-millennialism and A-millennialism?
The main difference between Pre-millennialist (whether Pre-trib, Mid-trib, or Post-trib) and a-millennialist is their interpretation of Revelation chapter twenty.
In Revelation 20, there is a period of 1000 years (a millennium) in which Satan is bound, and in which the believers reign with Christ. The pre-millennialist believe that this era follows the return of Christ. Hence they believe Christ will return pre-millennially. The a-millennialist believe that the millennium is symbolic of the whole New Testament era. Hence they believe that Christ will return a-millennially, that is, there will be no future millennium era.
Which view does the Bible teach? Both of these groups will say that the Bible clearly teaches its view. How can both of these groups be totally convinced that they are correct? Certainly we cannot say that one of these groups is not composed of diligent Bible students. Certainly both of these groups have those among them that do diligently study the scriptures. The main difference between these groups is how they go about interpreting the scriptures.
The one group primarily interprets prophesy by looking at the New Testament as a parenthesis within the Old Testament prophesies, (hence the Old Testament prophesies are complete in themselves, and the New Testament is a separate plan of God that was not revealed in the Old Testament. [This is what they call the "mystery" of Ephesians 3:3-6 and Revelation 10:7] ). While the other group uses the New Testament in its interpretation of the Old Testament. This group believes that the key to interpreting Old Testament Prophesy is found in the New Testament. The first group is the Pre-tribulation Pre-millennialist, the second is the A-millennialist.
In this essay the author will show why he believes that the second group is preferable to the first. This will require a diligent survey of the scriptures. For this, one must put aside what he has been taught and search the scriptures for himself and see what the Bible teaches.
Certainly the author of this essay is not infallible. Hence one should not put trust in what is written herein, but should diligently check to see if this is supported by the scriptures. If it is not faithful to the scriptures, then it, along with anything that one has been taught which may not be faithful to the scriptures must be disregarded.
Here are reasons why the author believes in a Post-tribulation, a-millennial return of Christ:
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