A Premillennial Primer
(or…What we are NOT voting about in the special congregational meeting after church this Sunday)
This Sunday after church we will be holding a special congregational meeting to discuss and vote on one issue: “Should our church vote ‘yes’ on the proposed amendment to our denomination’s Statement of Faith at the upcoming national conference?”
You already received information about that proposed amendment. It is included again as an attachment to this email. The amendment proposes to remove the word “premillennial” from the portion of the SOF that addresses Christ’s 2nd Coming. The proposal is to replace it with the word “glorious.” The vote is about what we allow as accepted belief in our denomination’s leadership and teaching. It is not a vote to jettison the Premillennial view on the timing of Christ’s return.
We the pastors and elders have taught and will continue to teach the Premillennial position on the timing of Christ’s Return. The elders thought it prudent to take this moment to give the briefest explanations as to what Premillennialism is and how it compares to other views. If you have studied this issue before, you know it can become quite involved. Basically Bible-believing adherents land in one of three basic camps as they consider the question, “When will Christ bodily return to the earth and reign?”
There is a “millennium” period that is yet to come. This period is either 1000 years long or is a very long time. During this millennial time frame the church will grow, advance, and is spread victoriously over all the earth. And at the end of that period (“Post-“), Christ will return to bring in the eternal glorious state. This view has been held by many Christians and it seems to become more popular during periods of prolonged revival or evangelistic progress. Examples: John Owen, Jonathan Edwards, B.B. Warfield.
There is a “millennium” period that is yet to come. This period is either 1000 years long, or is a very longtime. During the millennial time frame the church prospers over all the earth. But this is because Christ has already returned to the earth before (“Pre-“) the millennium and is therefore here, present and reigning during the millennium. When the millennium ends, there will be one final great Satanic rebellion that Christ will defeat, bringing in the eternal glorious state. This view appears to be the majority view throughout church history.
Examples: Charles Spurgeon, John Piper, D.A. Carson.
We live in the Millennial period right now—the long period of time between Christ’s 1st and 2nd comings. During this period Christ reigns from heaven, causing the gospel to spread and the church to grow. When Christ returns, He will bring in the eternal glorious state. Many Christians have held this view—it is perhaps the 2nd most popular view. Examples: Augustine, J.I. Packer, Sam Storms.
Where are we—and where will we remain? Again, this is just the simplest of treatments, but we are Premillennial. Revelation 20, verses 1 to 6 is a good place to see the position.
Chapter 19—Christ returns—Pre-chapter 20. In other words, the return of Christ to reign occurs before chapter 20’s depiction of Christ’s reign. We are persuaded that these chapters are chronologically sequenced.
Chapter 20—vs 1-3 Satan bound for 1000 years. His deceiving ability is stopped. He is removed from the place of influence and power.
Vs 4-6 Christ, with His people, reign on earth for the Millennium.
Vs 7-10 The millennium ends, and Satan is released to mount one final attack. It is defeated and in victory Christ then initiates the Judgement.
Vs 11 and following: the glorious, eternal state is ushered in.
In presenting this so succinctly, we do not mean to diminish the other views held by other serious Christians. Nor do we diminish our own view. Certainly, if we were to be debating the merits of Premillennialism vs Postmillennialism vs Amillennialism, there would be much to talk about.
But that is the point: we aren’t debating the merits of these 3 views. We are voting to become something else. We are voting to expand to include the other views, based on the principle that our denomination has always tried to uphold: We seek to be a denomination for “believers only, but all believers”, united around the gospel itself.
It is our belief that this change will uphold what is critical with regards to eschatology—not the timing of Christ’s return, but the FACT of it: He will gloriously, bodily return, and in this Hope we rejoice and rest. All three of those evangelical Christian views believe this Hope. By allowing the other two to partner with us in the EFCA, we believe we can further gospel-centered ministry.
 The word “eschatology” simply means “the study of the end”, or of “last things”.