CALVIN’S POSTMILLENNIALISM? (3)

PMW 2019-092 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Isaiah 19:18ff is an encouraging prophecy that relates the postmillennial hope of the gospel conquering the world. It shows the gospel will even overwhelm the historic enemies of God. Calvin’s exposition of this passage is extremely helpful for encouraging the postmillennial outlook. I am continuing citing Calvin’s material, beginning now with Isa 19:21.

And the Lord shall be known by the Egyptians (Isa 19:21).

Isaiah now adds what was most important; for we cannot worship the Lord, or call upon him, till we have first acknowledged him to be our Father. “ How” says Paul, “ can they call on him whom they know not?” (Rom 10:14.) We cannot be partakers of the gifts of God for our salvation without previously having true knowledge, which is by faith. He therefore properly adds, the knowledge of God, as the foundation of all religion, or the key that opens to us the gate of the heavenly kingdom. Now, there cannot be knowledge without doctrine; and hence infer, that God disapproves of all kinds of false worship; for he cannot approve of anything that is not guided by knowledge, which springs from hearing true and pure doctrine. Whatever contrivance therefore men may make out of their own minds, they will never attain by it the true worship of God. We ought carefully to observe passages like this, in which the Spirit of God shews what is the true worship and calling of God, that, having abandoned the inventions to which men are too obstinately attached, we may allow ourselves to be taught by the pure word of God, and, relying on his authority, may freely and boldly condemn all that the world applauds and admires. Continue reading

CALVIN’S POSTMILLENNIALISM? (2)

PMW 2019-091 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

I am continuing my citation of John Calvin’s postmillennial-like exposition of Isaiah 19:18ff. Calvin does an excellent job on these important verses.

In that day shall there be an altar in the midst of the land of Egypt (Isa 19:19).

Isaiah continues what he had said in the former verse, and states more clearly that the aspect of Egypt will be renewed, because there true religion will flourish, the pure worship of God will be set up, and all superstitions will fall to the ground. He employs the word altar to denote, as by a sign, the worship of God; for sacrifices and oblations were the outward acts of piety. By the midst of Egypt he means the chief part of the whole kingdom, as if he had said, “the very metropolis,”or, “the very heart of the kingdom.”

And a statue to the Lord. Let it not be supposed that by statue are meant images which carry the resemblance of men or of saints; but memorials of piety; for he means that they will be marks similar to those which point out the boundaries of kingdoms, and that in this manner signs will be evident, to make known to all men that God rules over this nation. And indeed it usually happens that a nation truly converted to God, after having laid aside idols and superstitions, openly sets up signs of the true religion, that all may know that the worship of God is purely observed in it. Continue reading

CALVIN’S POSTMILLENNIALISM? (1)

PMW 2019-090 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In this and the following ones, I will be citing John Calvin’s commentary on Isaiah 19:18–25. We find in his exposition a strong encouragement to the postmillennial hope. Before I begin citing Calvin, I will cite Isaiah since he is almost as good as Calvin! 😉 Be aware, I am citing the NASB which Calvin refused to use.

“In that day five cities in the land of Egypt will be speaking the language of Canaan and swearing allegiance to the LORD of hosts; one will be called the City of Destruction. In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD near its border. It will become a sign and a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the LORD because of oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Champion, and He will deliver them. Thus the LORD will make Himself known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day. They will even worship with sacrifice and offering, and will make a vow to the LORD and perform it. The LORD will strike Egypt, striking but healing; so they will return to the LORD, and He will respond to them and will heal them. In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrians will come into Egypt and the Egyptians into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the LORD of hosts has blessed, saying, ‘Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.’” (Isaiah 19:18-25 NASB).

Continue reading

POSTMILLENNIAL UTOPIA?

PMW 2019-089 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

One PostmillenialWorldview read asks: “What is your response to the ‘Utopia’ charge leveled by (especially) Premills? This is a common charge levied against the postmillennialist. And the erstwhile postmil would do well to consider the matter.

Unfortunately, in the eschatological debate, postmillennialism is the easiest eschatological option to misconstrue. This is due to its going against the prevailing pessimistic expectations of the other millennial views. Hope for our historical future seems like Utopia to these folks. And as we know “Utopia” comes from the Greek: ou (“not”) and topos (“place”) and means “no-place.” So if postmillennialism is utopic, it is going no place. Continue reading

IS CHRIST’S RETURN “IMMINENT”? (2)

PMW 2019-087 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In my last blog article I began a brief analysis of the doctrine of the imminent return of Christ. I began setting up the matter and also showing its problems for dispensationalism. In this article I will conclude the study.

Often dispensationalists try to distinguish between Christ’s return being imminent and its being soon. This strives to protect them against charges of date-setting. This does not protect them from the charge, however, because it is inconsistently held.
In a letter to me dated June 1, 1994, from Thomas D. Ice, Executive Director of the Pre-Trib Research Center, Ice writes: “We distinguish between imminent and soon in the sense that soon would require a near coming, while imminent would allow, but not require a soon coming.” Bundled in that very letter was his first newsletter entitled: “The Pre-Trib Research Center: A New Beginning.” The first sentence of the newsletter (once past the headings) was: “Our purpose is to awaken in the Body of Christ a new awareness of the soon coming of Jesus.” The system giveth and taketh away. In fact, in a book edited by Ice, Tim LaHaye speaks of “the soon coming of Christ.” Continue reading

IS CHRIST’S RETURN “IMMINENT”? (1)

PMW 2019-086 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

A most remarkable feature of prophetic interest is the Christian’s conviction that we are living “in the shadow of the second coming,” that we are in a “countdown to Armageddon.” We often find linked with a radical misunderstanding of the last days the doctrine of the imminent return of Christ, especially among dispensationalists and premillennialists — but also even with amillennialists.

I will deal with the question in two articles. In this one I will set up the matter; in the next one I will answer it. I will focus largely on the dispensational approach to the question. Interestingly, the doctrine of imminence is simultaneously one of dispensationalism’s most potent drawing cards while being also its most embarrassing error.

John F. Walvoord explains imminency for us: “The hope of the return of Christ to take the saints to heaven is presented in John 14 as an imminent hope. There is no teaching of any intervening event. The prospect of being taken to heaven at the coming of Christ is not qualified by description of any signs or prerequisite events.” Continue reading

IS THE “END OF THE AGE” AD 70?

PMW 2019-085 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

I am not always able to engage in theological discussion by email, due to my time constraints and the number of requests for such that I receive. But occasionally I will engage a discussion briefly. Here is one I just had with a PostmillennialWorldview reader. It regards the two-age structure of history.

PMW reader wrote:

I have a question to throw in the works if I may: Matthew 24:3 says ” What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

This could mean the end of the Old Testament age. I back this up with Jesus comments on the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which will not be forgiven “in this age or the age to come” (Matthew 12:32.) Continue reading