glowing-crossPMT 2017-007 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

I am continuing a study on the millennial reign of Christ. In this article I will focus on:

Christ and the Postmillennial Hope

In Christ’s earthly ministry we witness the coming of the prophesied kingdom. For instance, in Mark 1:15 we hear the Lord himself proclaim: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Thus, not only does he declare that “the” time is fulfilled (the prophetically-expected time) and that the “kingdom of God is at hand,” but he also associates it with the proclamation of the gospel. Later in Matthew 12:28 we read him state: “if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”

This is why we hear of the early Christians being charged with preaching another king (Acts 17:7). This is why Paul informs the Colossians that “He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col 1:13). This is why John can say in Revelation: “He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father — to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever” (Rev 1:6).

But I want to focus on the Lord’s powerful statement in John 12:31–32: “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” This sort of statement is exactly what the postmillennialist would expect to hear from Christ.

Let’s note first:

Christ’s dethronement of Satan

As Jesus faces the cross he declares his judgment of the fallen, rebellious world system. Through the horror of the cross he sees the glory of victory. He soon will “cast out” Satan as “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31). What does this mean? Obviously it does not mean Satan is totally removed from any influence in the world, for we see later references to Satan operating in the world.

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To understand this statement in its redemptive-historical context we must understand that before the coming and victory of Christ, all the nations of the world except for little Israel were under the dominion of Satan. In Psalm 147:19–20 we read: “He declares His words to Jacob, / His statutes and His ordinances to Israel. / He has not dealt thus with any nation; / And as for His ordinances, they have not known them.” Similarly in Amost3:2a we read: “You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth.” Therefore Satan could legitimately say to Christ when he offered him “the kingdoms of the world” (Luke 4:5b): “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish” (Luke 5:6).

But now Christ declares to his people while standing in the shadow of the cross: “now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.” This dramatic reality appears frequently in the New Testament record. Consider the following four samples of Christ’s victory over Satan:

“But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.” (Matt 12:28–29)

“When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.” (Col 2:15)

“Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb 2:14)

“The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8)

This is why we notice that some New Testament passages referring to Satan show his curtailed influence in the presence of the Christian faith:

“Taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” (Eph 6:17)

“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” (Rom 16:20)

“Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (Jms 4:7)

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith.” (1 Pet 5:7–8a)

This can only be because of Christ’s casting out of Satan, his binding his power. And this leads to the ultimate result of Satan’s being cast out:

Christ’s enthronement over men

The Lord defeats Satan so that he is no longer able to dominate the world. The result is that Christ himself will “draw all men to Myself” (John 12:32b).

Notice that profound nature of this declaration. He states that if he is “lifted up” (on the cross, John 12:33) that he will draw “all” men to himself. Not some. Not just Jews. Surely not just a remnant. He is not plucking brands from the fire. Rather he is declaring that he will draw the great mass of men to himself.

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Christ’s kingdom will grow with more and more conversions. Daniel speaks of the kingdom’s coming in Christ during the Roman empire. He states that it will come as a “stone” (Dan 2:45) but that it will become “a great mountain” that fills “the whole earth” (Dan 2:35). Ezekiel sees its gracious influence trickling from the altar in God’s house (Eze 47:1). But it grows to ever greater depths (Eze 47:3-4) until “it was a river that I could not ford, for the water had risen, enough water to swim in, a river that could not be forded.”

Jesus declares this gradualistic advance of his kingdom by comparing it to a mustard seed and to leaven. “He presented another parable to them, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.’ He spoke another parable to them, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened’” (Matt 13:31–33).

Christ’s kingdom is a living principle. It carries within it a growth tendency. Indeed, it will tend to grown until it draws “all men” to Christ (John 12:32). Thus, as John puts it elsewhere: “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:17).

To be continued.

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  1. Dennis Gannon November 10, 2018 at 6:02 am

    Amen on Postmillennialism. I think the growth of the mustard seed could take 10,000 years to reach it’s full size. Maybe more, maybe less.

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