The Millennium of Revelation 20

hoekemaExcerpt from The Bible and the Future by Anthony A. Hoekema

IN THIS CHAPTER AN ATTEMPT WILL BE MADE TO SET FORTH in some detail the amillennial view of the millennium described in Revelation 20. Before we look closely at Revelation 20, we should first concern ourselves with the question of the interpretation of the book of Revelation as a whole. The system of interpretation of the book of Revelation which seems most satisfactory to me (though it is not without its difficulties) is that known as progressive parallelism, ably defended by William Hendriksen in More Than Conquerors, his commentary on Revelation.452 According to this view, the book of Revelation consists of seven sections which run parallel to each other, each of which depicts the church and the world from the time of Christ’s first coming to the time of his second coming.

The first of these sections is found in chapters 1-3. John sees the risen and glorified Christ walking in the midst of seven golden lamp-stands. In obedience to Christ’s command John now proceeds to write letters to each of the seven churches of Asia Minor. The vision of the glorified Christ together with the letters to the seven churches obviously form a unit. As we read these letters we are impressed with two things. First, there are references to events, people, and places of the time when the book of Revelation was written. Second, the principles, commendations, and warnings contained in these letters have value for the church of all time. These two observations, in fact, provide a clue for the interpretation of the entire book. Since the book of Revelation was addressed to the church of the first century A.D., its message had reference to events occurring at that time and was therefore meaningful for the Christians of that day. But since the book was also intended for the church through the ages, its message is still relevant for us today.

The second of these seven sections is the vision of the seven seals found in chapters 4-7. John is caught up to heaven and sees God sitting on his radiant throne. He then sees the Lamb that had been slain taking the scroll sealed with seven seals from the hand of the one sitting on the throne, indicating that Christ has won a decisive victory over the forces of evil, and is thus worthy of opening the seals. The seals are now broken, and various divine judgments on the world are described. In this vision we see the church suffering trial and persecution against the background of the victory of Christ. When one asks, How do we know when one of these seven parallel sections ends (except for the first one, which forms an obvious unit), the answer is that each of the seven ends with an indication that the end-time has come. Such an indication may be given in terms of a reference to the final judgment at the end of history, or to the final blessedness of God’s people, or to both. At the end of this section we have both. There is a reference to the final judgment in chapter 6:15-17, “Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the generals and the rich and the strong, and every one, slave and free, hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand before it?'”

But there is also a description of the final blessedness of those who have come out of the great tribulation in chapter 7:15-17, “Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night within his temple; and he who sits upon the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

The third section, found in chapters 8-11, describes the seven trumpets of judgment. In this vision we see the church avenged, protected, and victorious. This section ends with a clear reference to the final judgment: “The nations raged, but thy wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, for rewarding thy servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear thy name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth” (11:18). Continue reading

Article: The Sin of Soft

Doug Wilson article (original source lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds” (Heb. 12:3).

Comes now the Ninth Short-Circuit Court of Appeals, upholding legislation in California that bans licensed counselors, pastors included, mind you, from helping young people who want to deal biblically with same-sex attraction. And since tyranny is never content with just a little bit, the law also bans counseling that seeks to steer young people away from gender confusion. Confusion. It’s not just a good idea. It’s the law.Reparative

And this reveals, in high relief, the ratcheting techniques used by the forces of totalitolerance. A howl was set up against reparative therapy, causing even some stalwart Christian leaders to back away from it, and now, since we have ceded that ground, they are proceeding to take it. It is now against the law in California for a godly pastor to urge a teenagers to mortify his perverse desires, and how did we get here?

Incidentally, taking a stand for reparative counseling does not obligate you to endorse anything and everything someone might do in the name of reparative therapy, any more than a stand for free speech means that you agree with every stupid op-ed piece ever written. There could be hucksters out there running Acme Reparative Clinics, and I don’t care because this was supposed to be a free country. Because not only is Acme out there giving us a bad name, but the apostle Paul is out there too.

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:9–11).

Some of you used to be gay, he says, but you called on the Lord, and prayed it away. Notice the tense of the verbs. Such were some of you. But you are washed. This does not mean that various temptations to lust just vanish, presto. But it does mean that it is no more permissible for Christians to claim a gay celibate identity than it is for them to claim an identity of celibate pedophilia, or the identity of being an incorrigible celibate flirt.

So what would we think of a celibate flirt? Suppose we were talking to a man who said he was maintaining the biblical standard of fidelity in marriage, but who said that he was also committed to the innocent recreation of flirting his head off with numerous women. All that matters, says he, is that the illicit and prohibited coitus does not in fact occur. That being excluded, all he ever does is tell a few inappropriate jokes, lower his voice confidentially, exchange a few knowing glances, and so on. Is he sinning? Continue reading

Before You Post Online

dever1-1024x682Mark Dever: 12 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Posting Something Online (original source before you post that blog, Facebook status, or tweet, what would be some indicators you might want to consider first? In such an instance, I want to offer 12 brief questions to ask yourself. You might think of them as indicator lights, the kind a pilot checks before taking off.

1) Will it edify? Or significantly inform a useful conversation? (Mk 12:29–31; 1 Cor 14:26)

Try to think of what will edify others. All we do is in obedience to the command to love God and others. How will it increase their knowledge, or faith, or love? Are you accurately representing any positions you disagree with? How sure am I of my facts? Trivialities hopefully fill up our lives less than they do so much of the Internet. John Piper has said that “One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove on the last day that our prayerlessness was not from lack of time!” He’s right.

2) Will it easily be misunderstood? (Jn 13:7; 16:12)

The privacy of a personal conversation limits misunderstanding. In public posts, some things will sound one way to those who know us, and another to those who don’t. Negative assessments are often best shared privately, or not at all. How many of us have learned at our workplace that email is a terrible way to share any kind of negative comments? And, thinking of more public postings, ask yourself: are there reasons why I may not be a good person to speak on certain matters?

3) Will it reach the right audience? (Mark 4:9 et al.)

If you’re correcting someone, should the audience for that correction be wider—or more narrow? Is that audience correctable? When you use social media, consider who is listening to what you’re saying. What if everyone in this room came over and eavesdropped on your conversations after the service today? Yet we do this all the time online.

4) Will it help my evangelism? (Col. 1:28–29)

Is what you’re about to communicate going to help or hinder those you’re evangelizing? Is it likely to diminish the significance (to them) of your commitment to the gospel, or enhance it?

5) Will it bring about unnecessary and unhelpful controversy? (Titus 3:9)

Think carefully about controversy. The line between vigorous exchange of ideas and a kind of social war is sometimes thinner than we may think. What is this particular controversy that I would be contributing to good for? When is it unhelpful? How much time will it take up? Is this an unavoidable primary issue, or a matter about which disagreement is fairly unimportant? Will this controversy play into any other division that threatens the unity of our local church? Continue reading

The Case for Christ

While I am pre-suppositional in my apologetics, that does not mean that I believe we as Christians do not have evidence for what we believe. Far from it.

Here is Lee Strobel on the Case for Christ:

Look What God is Doing!

Text: Ephesians 2:19-22

After revealing how Christ’s death for us has demolished every division between Jew and Gentile, Paul gives us three further analogies to show the ramifications for the people of God. Both Jewish and Gentile Christians are full citizens in His kingdom, cherished children in His family and are living stones in His Temple.

The Trinity in the Book of Revelation

stormsArticle by Dr. Sam Storms (original source but because the NT so clearly and repeatedly teaches it. One such place is the book of Revelation. There we see consistent and repeated evidence of the Deity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: three co-equal persons existing as One undivided God.

The first explicit reference to the Triune character of God is found in Revelation 1:4b-5a,

“Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.”

There are only two occasions on which God himself speaks in Revelation, and they are both declarations concerning his identity as God:

“I am the Alpha and Omega, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (1:8).

“I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end” (21:6).

What makes these important is that they correspond to two self-declarations of Jesus, thus testifying to their shared deity:

“I am the first and the last” (1:17).

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (22:13).

The words “the first and the last” are taken from Isaiah where it occurs as a self-designation for God (44:6; 48:12). One could hardly find a more explicit claim to exclusive deity than this. As the first and the last Jesus is not only claiming equality of nature with the Father but is declaring that he both precedes all things, as their Creator, and will bring all things to their eschatological consummation. He is the origin and goal of all history. Continue reading