We are Premillennial
The word "doctrine" may sound complicated or scary. It is not. It simply means "beliefs taught by the church." We need doctrine and we need to know what we believe. I will post doctrine updates from time to time.
Today's doctrine: Premillennial faith.
What does it mean to be Premillennial? Pre means before, and millennial denotes a period of one thousand years. Therefore, when we say we are premillennial, we believe Jesus Christ will return before the millennium.
The millennium is a one thousand year period of time on earth when Jesus Christ will set up His earthly Kingdom. He will literally rule and reign on earth, seated on His throne (the throne of David) in the capital city of Jerusalem.
The one thousand year period of time is what we call the Kingdom age. The Kingdom age will immediately follow the seven year Tribulation mentioned in the book of Daniel and the book of Revelation (and other places throughout Scripture).
Here is a basic timeline:
Rapture of the Church -- 7 year Tribulation -- Second Coming of Jesus -- Millennium
Is it important to know if we are premillennial?
It is very important. Many Christian churches and groups believe we are in the Kingdom right now. Some believe Jesus will return at the end of the millennium (post-millennial). Those who believe we are in the Kingdom now alter the divine design for the church.
Kingdom now people believe the mission of the church is to build the kingdom by making our world a better place to live, i.e., getting people out of poverty, building better parks, solving urban blight, cleaning up our environment.
There is nothing inherently wrong with any of those, but they are not the mission of the church. Doing these things means the church must align itself with worldly government to make them happen. History shows us that whenever the church has done that (think of the Constantine), the next step is to try and grasp reins of political power and rule by the sword (think of the Crusades).
Kingdom now people get the mission of the church wrong.
What is the mission of the church? It is clear, concise and threefold in Scripture:
- Glorify God (Ephesians 3:21) "To Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."
- Edify (instruct) and build up its members (Ephesians 4:11-16) "....for the edifying of the body of Christ...from whom the whole body, joined and knit together..."
- Word evangelism and fulfilling the Great Commission (Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:19-20). "Go into all the world and preach the gospel" "Go therefore and make disciples."
Yes, it is crucial to know we are premillennial. It is not our business to establish the Kingdom of God among men. Jesus Christ, upon His return, will accomplish that all on His own.
in his book The Greatness of the Kingdom, Alva J. McClain notes, "While it is important and appropriate for the church to positively influence fallen culture in some sense (Matthew 5:13-16), she is not called to rule and reign in the present age with kingdom authority."
Next time: What we believe about the Social Gospel (and what is it?).