Why our Statement of Faith
does not mention the 'millenium'
Some have asked why our Statement of Faith does not mention the word 'millenium'.
No Statement of Faith would normally mention the word. Statements of Faith concentrate on the central tenets of the Christian faith, ie, the work of Christ upon the cross, salvation, redemption, grace and what we may confidently say of the substance and character of God. The New Covenant, after all, concerns these matters and we need to say something which all of those convicted by the Holy Spirit should be able to agree upon.
One might turn the question around and say, Why should we mention the millenium?
After all, the word does not even occur in the Bible. The 1,000 years are mentioned only in Revelation 20, a book which even the most ardent biblical literalist will usually admit to being heavily symbolic. Leaving the topic of the millenium out of creeds, confessions and Statements of Faith also recognises that honest differences of opinion exist among Christians on this point. Holding one or another of the three main views on the millenium has little affect upon ones walk with Christ. The difficulty arises when one, foolishly and legalistically, attempts to impose their own view on other Christians!
Is there a particular position which Museltof tends to support? Yes, indeed there is, but we would not attempt to impose our view upon others.
Very briefly then what are the three positions on this topic?
Jesus will return before the millenium which is seen as a literal 1,000 year period following Christ's return to earth. There are two sub-divisions of this, one of these is 'historic premillenialism' which many claim was the view of the early Church (though there is very little evidence of this.) The other view was a late comer and is derived from the influence of John Nelson Darby, the Bible interpreter who is more or less credited with splitting the Brethren movement with his somewhat extremist views.
This is 'dispensational premillenialism' , this view speaks of the rapture to occur before the Second Coming. With the best will in the world, it is hard to escape the conclusion that much within this view is imposed, or read-into the Scriptures.
It is interesting too that while a nationalistic 'golden age' to follow the Messiah's coming was a Jewish hope, Jesus instructed his followers to wait for the coming of the Spirit in order to equip them to preach the gospel. (Acts 1: 6-8.)
This view believes that the Church will be more or less successful in converting the world, after which Christ will return. Some of the Puritans supported this position, indeed even today some Reformed people support it, but it lost considerable ground during the 20th century which witnessed so many wars and conflicts and also the loss of influence of the Christian gospel. But it is not true to say that no Scriptures exist which could be said to support the position, but they are not abundant.
The third view is the one that has probably been held by most Bible-believing Christians of all time. This view recognises that Revelation is steeped in symbolism and that if one takes a literalist view of Revelation 20 one comes to a position which is not in agreement with some things which Christ said. He said, for instance, that the judgement of all (good and evil) will occur at His return. See Matt25: 31-34. Paul too did not appear to see a time lapse. More serious is that while Paul painstakingly outlines so much Christian theology, no concept of a millenium can be found in his writings.(It has been said that just two verses in all of his theological expositions could be a reference to a 'millenium'.) This is not the place to go through these things in great depth, some excellent books are available which we could recommend to an E Mailer, but Amillenialism would see Revelation 20 as referring to the age of the Church with the 'binding of Satan' being tied in with those Scriptures which also clearly show a great restriction on the activities of Satan and his demons during the Church age. Think of Jesus' ministry of casting out demons and note such Scriptures as Luke 10: 17-20, Mark 16: 17 & John 12: 31-32. Also carefully note Matt 12: 25-29. The 'strong man' whom Jesus talks about binding here is Satan and the time setting is Jesus' preaching of the gospel! (His first coming.) So this view sees Satan's 'binding' as referring to the fact that he is unable to directly attack and destroy the Church. It is in this sense that he is unable to 'deceive the nations' yet he is able to influence them in other ways. At Museltof this is the position which we support without reservation as being the position which takes into account most Scriptures, but if you disagree thats fine. This is not an area which believers in the Christ should argue about!
'How can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? And then He will spoil his house'
(Matthew 12: 29)
In Luke's account the strong man is represented as armed and guarding his palace or residence. But once disarmed by a stronger opponent, he is deprived of his spoils (Luke 11: 21-22). Christ's claim, then, is crystal clear. He has 'bound' Satan and can plunder his house at will...Satan cannot successfully resist Christ. The tyrant has been defeated. He may and does counter-attack, but he has already lost the war. He knows that his time is short (Revelation 12: 12). So do his minions as they ask Christ, 'Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?' (Matthew 8: 29). They know that torment awaits them in hell, a place 'prepared for the devil and his angels' (Matthew 25: 41).
Satan is bound by the cross of Christ. There the serpent's head was crushed and the forces of evil routed. So certain was Christ of victory as He went to His cross that He could say emphatically, 'Now is the judgement of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out' (John 12: 31)..it (also) needs to be remembered that the atonement is retrospective...in its efficacy, as well as prospective. In other words, it relates equally to all post-Fall history, whether for us it is past or future. It is trans-historical.
Old Testament believers (too) were saved by that cross, exactly as are New Testament believers. The blood of bulls and goats could not, and did not, cleanse their sin, but it did prefigure Christ's effectual sacrifice on the cross. New Testament believers have vastly greater knowledge of what happened at Calvary than the saints of old, but in terms of justification they have nothing essential that Old Testament believers did not have.
Christ's death redeems from transgressions those who were 'under the first covenant' (Hebrews 9: 15)...the truth that the cross relates equally to all human history since the Fall, means that Satan has always been 'bound' by the cross and able to move only as God permits him (see Job 1: 12 and 2: 6). This does not mean that the sacrifice left the situation unchanged. There has been a significant change, in that Satan's activity has been further curbed and restricted, so that he can no longer deceive the nations (Revelation 20: 3)...(meaning) he cannot frustrate the Great Commission or prevent the spread of the gospel throughout the world...of course Satan is still a dangerous enemy. A dog on a chain is circumscribed in its movement, but within that sphere it can be dangerous. So it is with Satan. His movement is restricted by a sovereign God - as the book of Job makes clear - but the Christian is nevertheless exhorted to wear the armour of God. Only thus can he 'quench the fiery darts of the evil one' (Ephesians 6: 16)...Scripture strikes a careful balance between presenting Satan as 'bound', yet as dangerous as a hungry lion (1 Peter 5: 8).
Overall, Scripture sees Satan as clearly under God's power. Calvin sees Satan serving God in spite of himself, 'Because with the bridle of His power, God holds him bound and restrained, he carries out only those things which have been permitted to him; and so he obeys his Creator, whether he will or not, because he is compelled to yield Him service...' (Institutes, 1:14:17). That was supremely the case at Calvary (compare Acts 2: 23).
Because Satan is on a leash, and the Christian is delivered from his authority...(being) now indwelt by the Holy Spirit and 'sealed' by the Spirit until the day of redemption (Ephesians 4: 30), Christ's people can succesfully resist the devil (James 4: 7). But to do so consistently they must use the means that God has provided. Satan fears those who delight in God's Word and who pray believingly. Contrary to some modern teaching, the Christian is 'kept by the power of God' (1 Peter 1: 5)....Satan lays his snares and tempts the Christian, but he cannot compel him to sin. If and when the believer sins, it is his own doing to be confessed as such (Romans 6: 14; James 1: 14-15). ...to believe and teach, as some do, that a Christian can be demon-possessed is a monstrous error that runs counter to all that the Bible says about the believer. It is utterly grotesque to think that the Holy Spirit and an evil spirit can reside together in the same person...many so-called 'deliverance ministries' of our day are blighted by this false doctrine and are doing incalculable damage to anxious souls.
Another great result of Christ's victory over Satan and his underlings is the assurance the Church has in obeying the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 19-20). In going forth as Christ has commanded, the Church knows that Satan cannot frustrate God's purpose. His Word will not return to Him void, but will accomplish what God desires, gathering His Church out of the world until the end of the age (Isaiah 55: 11)...every time a sinner is saved, whether demon-possessed or not, Christ has ransacked Satan's house!
(This article comprises large excerpts from a superb
article by Frederick Leahy which appeared in the 'Evangelical
Times' of August, 1998).
If you want really deep reading on the topic of 'realised millenialism' (amillenialism), GO HERE
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