Premillennialism, postmillennialism, and amillennialism—these are words that tangle the tongue, and concepts that twist the brain. If there is one thing humans seem to be adept at doing, it is complicating simple situations. God tells us in straightforward language in Genesis 1 that He has created the heavens and the earth, but man invents evolution as his origin. The Lord tells us to simply believe and trust in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ and we will be saved, but man adds his own works and efforts in order to assist God in the work of salvation. Jesus plainly taught that He will bring this world to its conclusion when He returns to gather all believers to Himself, but man says, “Not so fast!”
Eschatology, the study of the last things, has prompted men to come up with many ideas and theories not supported by Scripture. Some of these theories again seem to attempt to assist God in His plan of salvation by holding out a second chance for people to come to faith.
Most of the confusion concerning the end of time, Judgment Day, and the resurrection of all people, comes from taking certain passages of the Bible out of context. Often these are from prophetic books such as Daniel or Revelation. We know that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). We also know that we allow Scripture to interpret Scripture. If there appears to be a “new” or contradictory teaching in one portion of God’s Word, we bring the light of the rest of Scripture to bear upon it.
The troubles millennialists get into by isolating certain passages or books are myriad. We have neither time nor space here to address all of the difficulties that arise from these unscriptural teachings, but we can see how they run contrary to Christ’s simple statements.
Jesus has promised that He will return unexpectedly, yet visibly to all men (Mark 13:32, Revelation 1:7). All the dead will be raised (John 5:28-29). He will come to judge all the nations of the earth (Matthew 25:32). Every knee will bow before Him, acknowledging Him as the Savior God (Philippians 2:10). Those who have rejected Jesus and His sacrificial work will be condemned to eternal suffering with Satan and his cohorts (Matthew 25:41). Those who have believed in Christ for their salvation will be gathered together with Him to enjoy the paradise He has prepared for them (Matthew 25:34).
These simple declarations and promises of our Savior say nothing of any secret return of Christ, nor of a merely spiritual return, as some millennialists teach. There will be no whisking away of some part of the populace while others are left behind to carry on. Jesus declares that His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36), so we will not see believers ruling under Christ on this sin-filled planet. There will be no second chances for people to believe—no do-overs. Judgment Day will be the final day; afterward comes eternity in heaven or hell. This helps us recognize the urgency of bringing the Lord’s Gospel to lost souls before the time of grace is spent.
The truly amazing and comforting truth that Scripture teaches us about the final day is that we have already been raised from the dead! When we were baptized into Christ, we were baptized into His death. But Jesus rose from the dead as the first-fruits of all believers, and when we emerged from the waters of Baptism, we too were raised to new life in Christ! This conversion work of the Holy Spirit in us was the beginning of our eternal life with Christ—we need only pass through the door of death to see its full realization.
So we work now, while it is day, using these simple, comforting truths to help us look forward to that great day all the more eagerly.
David W. Bernthal is the principal of Luther Memorial School in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.