Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Good Place to Start

    Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne.
    Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own.
    Awake, my soul, and sing of Him who died for thee,
    And hail Him as thy matchless King through all eternity.
We're all familiar with that hymn. It is one many of us have sung all our lives, and it is undoubtedly featured in thousands of churches across America on Easter Sunday -- which is one of the reasons why I believe that, to an extent, all Christians are amillennial.

Think about it. Even the most ardent dispensationalist won't deny that Christ is currently reigning. Rather, he will stand up in church and belt out praises to "the Lamb upon His throne" with every bit as much joy and enthusiasm as the amillennialist brother standing next to him.

But the most fundamental aspect of amillennialism is the recognition that Christ is (present tense) reigning. To deny that is to deny scripture. Besides, how can one be a king if one has no kingdom? As his royal title implies, Christ is reigning now.

Let's take a look at just a few passages that deal with the immediacy of Christ's kingdom. Perhaps the first thing we should note is that Jesus was worshiped as a king from the moment he was born (Matthew 2:2). From the beginning of his ministry -- even before he called his first disciples --- he preached the message, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17).

Jesus himself spoke of his reign as a present reality. In Matthew 12:28-29, he said, "But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you."

Jesus spoke about his death and resurrection to a crowd gathered around him, saying, "Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power" (Mark 9:1).

Even the thief on the cross recognized Christ's kingdom as a present reality: "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom" (Luke 23:42).

The Apostle Paul was confronted by a group of people in Rome, and "he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets" (Acts 28:23).

Paul referred to his Christian brothers as "fellow workers for the kingdom of God" (Colossians 4:11).

We read in Hebrews 12:2 that Christ "is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."

Now, to be sure, you will find disagreement all across the theological spectrum as to the extent of Christ's present reign. But I think the realization that he is reigning is a good starting point on the road to understanding amillennialism, or "inaugurated eschatology."


Anonymous said...

Because of the Church/Israel distinction in dispensational theology, many who hold this view see Christ descending His exalted and heavenly throne in the future to reign over an earthly/political and imperfect Kingdom.
Is this not the same misconception about the Kingdom that the Jews of Jesus' day had?

Anonymous said...

When I was a dispensationalist I was told by my MBI educated pastor that with the Jews rejection of Christ as Messiah the kingdom program was placed on stasis until the time of the gentiles (the church age)was finished.

Rachel R. said...

Could you summarize what the amillenialist view is, and how it affects/applies to those events that a pre-millennialist would view as happening in the end times? My husband and I (having been raised somewhat mindlessly as pre-trib pre-millennialists) have been studying eschatology to determine what our own position is. It's hard, though, to find something that breaks down just what each of these views is, as a starting point. If you could summarize it for us, or direct us to a good resource, it would be very helpful. :)

Lee Shelton said...

Oh, Rachel, that is such a loaded question! If only it could be summarized easily. There are distinct differences between the premil and amil views, but once you begin to look at them you'll discover that even amillennialists have very different views.

I guess if I had to sum up the main difference between amillennialism and premillennialism, I would say that the amil view center on Christ and the premil view centers on Israel. All of scripture (prophecies, promises, etc.) must be read through the lens of the New Testament. After all, even the authors of the OT weren't fully aware of the meaning behind what they were writing.

I'm planning a brief post that will hopefully give people a good reference point when interpreting the book of Revelation. Like any passage of scripture, it needs to be read in the proper context if we are to understand it. I'll even include some links to other resources. It's not an easy subject, and there are a lot of point on which I'm kind of fuzzy, but I do think it's important to study.

I don't know if that helps, but stay tuned. Hopefully we'll get some good discussions going. :)

Rachel R. said...

Thanks, Lee; I'll keep my eyes peeled. :)

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