Our Blessed Hope: Why Premillenialism Matters

Recently, I have been taken frequently with the joy of realizing that one day, the Lord Jesus Christ will personally invade this world with all its confusion, discord, difficulties, and questions and setup His Kingdom on earth. This joy is called the premillennial return of Jesus Christ, when he returns before the Utopian Kingdom Age and then sets up this Millennial Kingdom as the heir of the Kingdom of Israel, reigning as King David’s Son. In the back of my mind, as I have meditated on this truth, I have been wondering if there is anything distinctive to the premillennial position as opposed to other Christian views about the Millennium. This being said, I would like to offer some of the thoughts I’ve had and defend why I believe there are elements of this doctrine that do make a difference from other views of the end times. In a word, Premillennialism does matter.

By way of brief introduction I define below the three main positions regarding the Millennium:

  • Premillennialism is the belief that Jesus’ Second Coming precedes the 1,000 year Millennium which will usher in the Utopian age on earth and then merge into the heavenly eternal state.
  • Amillennialism is the belief there is no actual 1,000 year Millennium and that Jesus’ Second Coming will come at some point in the future and that will usher in the heavenly eternal state.[1]
  • Postmillennialism is the belief that the church will usher in the Kingdom age by evangelization of the world until the majority of the world is Christian and then after this glorious age on earth, the Lord Jesus will return and usher in the eternal state.

With this introductions, I will offer four reasons why Premillennialism matters for our hope.

First, premillennialism preserves the glory of the Biblical prophecy of Jesus’ actual return to earth in Revelation 19. In this passage, the Scripture paints a glorious picture using figures of speech of the Lord Jesus Christ as a Warrior who invades and triumphs over the evil that had been on the earth. This picture of His Second Coming is lost especially in the postmillennial system. If the church establishes the Millennium, then there is no such Second Coming needed, albeit He does return again ultimately. The Biblical picture is one in which He personally comes back to setup His Kingdom on Earth.

Second, the sovereignty of God is also persevered in a special way in premillennialism. In premillennialism, God simply comes and invades the world. In essence, He says “It is time to make all things right!” The Almighty God’s actions are entirely in His power, not dependent on mankind’s actions in the way that postmillennialism depends on mankind’s actions. This is especially preserved when the pre-tribulation rapture is added to premillennialism with its doctrine of imminency (the “any moment” possibility of Jesus’ return for his church). Granted, it is not that God is not sovereign in postmillennialism. It is that the “any moment” concept of when the program for the end begins is lost.

Third, premillennialism preserves God’s day of triumph on the earth in which he restores His original created order. Romans 8:19ff shows how the current created order is suffering and waiting for the redemption of the world. This is not properly fulfilled in amillennialism, where the earth just merges into heaven with the accompanying judgment of this earth (as in 2 Peter 3:7) and the making of the new heaven and the new earth (as in Revelation 21). I think it is fitting to say that the glory of premillennialism is that Jesus Christ personally has His day on this earth in which He is the hero, He triumphs in the sphere in which he suffered, and he personally establishes the utopian-like age in which mankind can live on this earth as God originally intended. As said by old prophecy scholar Arno C. Gaebelein, “[T]he only answer, the completest and neverfailing answer to all our questions, is The Glorious Reappearing of the Lord Jesus Christ[.]”[2] (emphasis his) The answer to mankind’s present plight is the premillennial return of Jesus. In His return, mankind will be restored on this earth by the Lord Jesus’s direct intervention.

Finally, premillennialism properly recognizes that neither individual salvation nor heaven are the only points of emphasis in God’s plan for the ages.[3] This is a manifestation of the idea that the purpose of human history is God’s glory in multiple ways, not primarily or only in the salvation of the individual who is taken to heaven as the ultimate expression of his salvation. This is related to the preceding point regarding the Lord’s triumph on earth. Additionally, as a dispensational premillennialist, I would also add here that God’s plan, purposes, and promises for national Israel are another thing that depends on the premillennial position too.

In summary, premillennialism paints a distinctive picture for how the Lord Jesus will personally manifest Himself in the earthly realm as well as the heavenly realm to bring blessing to mankind and vindication to God’s person and accomplishment of God’s purposes. By these reflections, I do not intend to suggest that these other systems are without hope or that they deny God’s sovereignty or are against the glory of God. The point of this article is that premillennialism does matter. Premillennialism is a big deal, and I believe that it forms an important part of a theology of hope as found in the Scriptures. It is an integral part of the “blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” (Titus 2:12) Of course, this hope is only for those who have trusted in this Savior alone for their salvation, and I hope for the salvation of everyone who reads this blog post. In conclusion, I share these glorious words of Revelation 19:11ff:

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Rev 19:11-16 NASB)

[1] See “Amillennialism,” in The Dictionary of Premillennial Theology, ed. Mal Couch.

[2] Arno C. Gaebelein, Hope of the Ages, 54-76, cited in Mike Stallard, “Prophetic Hope in the Writings of Arno C. Gaebelein: A Possible Demonstration of the Doxological Purpose of Biblical History,” http://our-hope.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/acg2.pdf, pg. 12.

[3] This is another way of pointing out that premillennialism affirms and demonstrates the doxlogical purpose of human history as understood to be an essential of traditional dispensationalism in Charles Ryrie’s work Dispensationalism, pg. 48).